ON WEDNESDAY, April 30, 1980, True Temper and Roches Stores met for the second time at a packed Blackpool Park in a Division 2 championship decider, with promotion at stake.
I was in my second season with Roches Stores and that dramatic year is one of the highlights of my 12-year tenure playing in what was then the Cork and District Shipping League.
Both teams were new to league football.
True Temper had joined in 1974 and Roches two years later, in 1976, with both having suffered heavy defeats in their first few seasons.
In 1978, Temper surprised everyone by winning the third Byrne Cup, now the Jackie O’Driscoll Premier Cup. It was then a knockout competition played by teams in all three divisions, and Temper beat Youghal A 4-1 at The Showgrounds on May 21 to win it.
By the time the decade had closed, in 1979/80, the big guns had regained supremacy in the accumulation of honours.
True Temper’s and Roches Stores’ shield campaigns in the autumn of 1979 ended badly, with Temper winning only two of their ten matches and Roches three of theirs.
The teams met for the first time in section B on Sunday, November 25, at Southern Park, and drew 3-3 in heavy conditions.
Pat Downing sent Tom O’Donovan in for the opener for Roches, but within five minutes Tim Kelly had headed powerfully past Theo McAuliffe for the equaliser.
After Laurence Owens restored Roches’ lead, Temper added two goals, from Alfie Davis and Paul O’Connor, to go in 3-2 up at the break.
O’Connor’s sublime free-kick was only bettered by Davis’ marvellous run and finish.
As Temper tired in the heavy, underfoot conditions, I forced the equaliser from close range, in the 82nd minute, after Downing had touched on a cross.
Temper began their league campaign with a 4-1 win over Garda on Saturday, December 8, and followed up on the first Saturday of January by beating Aer Lingus 4-3 at Southern Park.
Davis and O’Connor both scored twice, as they had done against Garda, with Roches opening up the following day with a 2-2 draw against fancied CMP at Blackpool Park.
In a tight contest, all four goals were scored in the opening 45 minutes.
John Buckley gave CMP the lead in the 13th minute, before Pat Ring equalised seven minutes later.
After Dominic Heffernan scored from a through ball to give Roches the lead, Kieran Keane equalised on the stroke of half-time.
Temper and Roches locked horns the following week in a mud bath at Blackpool Park, the match being memorable for the excellent performance of Roches Stores’ goalkeeper, McAuliffe, and the dramatic equaliser by Davis three minutes from time.
Jim Cummins had earlier scored twice for Roches Stores.
Both teams recorded high-scoring wins in late January, Temper hitting Youghal Yarns ‘B’ for eight without reply, while Roches Stores edged out Aer Lingus 5-4.
Centre-forward Tony O’Brien grabbed a hat-trick, with Cummins and Dave Higgins, who hammered in the late winner, also among the goals. Noel Bradley (2), Timmy Murphy, and Daniel Healy scored for the visitors, who trailed 3-1 midway through the second-half, only to recover and have drawn level, at 4-4, by the 85th minute.
Roches Stores’ next outing resulted in a third 2-2 draw out of four, this time with Southern Health Board, at Southern Park.
Heffernan and Buckley scored for the hosts, with Noel Martin and Don O’Driscoll replying for Southern Health Board.
By the end of February, both Temper and Roches Stores remained unbeaten approaching the halfway mark.
Temper put five past Bank of Ireland and an inspired Dom Heffernan scored three from play and one from the penalty-spot in Roches’ 4-1 win over Southern Health Board at St. Anne’s Park.
Temper went two clear at the top in the era of two points for a win, with CMP, Roches, and SHB all bunched together on seven points.
All three title contenders won on the weekend of March 8, Temper ending SHB’s aspirations with an eight-nil drubbing, CMP overcoming Bank of Ireland 3-2, and Roches getting the better of Garda 3-0, courtesy of goals from Cummins, Downing, and O’Donovan.
In later March, Temper capitalised on a weekend of postponements, due to torrential rain and snow. On the Sunday morning, they opened up a three-point lead after goals from Jerry Murphy (3), Paul O’Connor, Tim Kelly, and Timmy Tabbs consigned SHB to a fourth defeat.
Despite Temper drawing twice with CMP, when the teams met in the first two weeks of April, Roches lost their unbeaten record when they went down 3-2 to a resurgent CMP. That set up a winner-takes-all encounter with Temper, at Blackpool Park on Wednesday, April 30.
After Cummins and Davis exchanged first-half goals, Temper clinched their first league title with a three-goal, second-half blitz.
Dom Heffernan’s penalty came too late to inspire a comeback, but Roches had the consolation of finishing runners-up and getting promotion, with wins over Garda and Bank of Ireland, pipping CMP by two points.