Flashback: The Barrs passed an epic test in Clones cauldron in 1980

Flashback: The Barrs passed an epic test in Clones cauldron in 1980
John Allen, Cork, in action against Gerry Hargan, Dublin, in the 1983 All-Ireland football semi-final at Croke Park. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

St Finbarr’s 0-7 Scotstown 0-4

THE Cork and Munster champions felt the full force of Ulster football in a tempestuous 1980 All-Ireland club semi-final in Clones.

It’s remembered out Togher direction not for the quality of football displayed but the manner in which they kept their composure under the most extreme provocation.

After the game Mick Carey, who was one of the stars at right half-back, had to receive pain-killing injections while midfielder Michael Lynch’s cut lip required stitches.

Several other Barrs players suffered cuts and bruises while the hamstring injured sustained by Jimmy Barry-Murphy cast a doubt over his availability for Cork’s national hurling final replay against Limerick at Páirc Uí Chaoimh the following week.

JBM in action for Cork against Kerry.
JBM in action for Cork against Kerry.

It was patently obvious from the start that the Monaghan champions were intent on trying to rough-up the visitors from the south with some of the worst short-arm tackles seen for ages.

And yet Scotstown lived to regret this negative approach because the Barrs were there for the taking after struggling to make use of the wind in the first-half.

Despite Richie Kenny kicking the opening point after only 15 seconds, the Barrs could only be on level terms, 0-1 each, five minutes before the break.

A tactic of pumping the ball high into a full-forward line which thrived on it coming in low and an inability to convert chances left the Cork side vulnerable.

Even James O’Callaghan’s brace of points approaching half-time did little to ease Barrs’ nerves as they turned around only 0-3 to 0-1 in front and facing the elements.

It was a different story on the resumption, however, the visitors putting together a flowing move which led to Finbarr Twomey’s point.

The Barrs showed their class when moving the ball quickly and picking out colleagues with low accurate passes which only increased Scotstown’s frustration.

Meath referee Ciaran Campbell was a busy man, taking the names of three Scotstown defenders as the Barrs began taking control.

And in the 10 minutes after the interval, Barry-Murphy’s influence on proceedings was there for all to observe, displaying his genius as a supplier of scores.

A race to the left touchline led him to waltz past three defenders before laying the ball for O’Callaghan to kick his side four points in front.

Barry-Murphy repeated the trick moments later and the Barrs could sense a place in their first All-Ireland club decider.

Scotstown were reeling at being 0-6 to 0-1 in arrears and getting no room at all from a stout Barrs defence in which all six backs gave keeper Bertie O’Brien plenty of protection.

Even a disallowed goal didn’t knock them off their stride. John Allen’s pass teed up O’Callaghan, who fisted home only to be whistled up for a square infringement.

Richie Kenny was another stand out player at centre-forward and while the Barrs were forced to defend deep and in numbers in the closing five minutes, Scotstown were never really going to trouble them.

A couple of late points left a goal between the sides, but time eventually ran out on the home side, leaving the Barrs set for a long, though happy journey back to Leeside.

Scotstown could only manage two points from play over the hour, an indication of how Carey and company organised matters in defence.

The Barrs team that won the county in 1985, featuring some survivors from '80. Back: Mick Slocum, Christy Ryan, Jimmy Barry Murphy, John Kerins, Kevin Scanlan, Declan O'Mahony, Brendan Searls, Damian Philpott, Tony Leahy. Front: Paddy Hayes, John Cremin, Gene Desmond (c), Dave Barry, John Meyler, Mick Carey. 
The Barrs team that won the county in 1985, featuring some survivors from '80. Back: Mick Slocum, Christy Ryan, Jimmy Barry Murphy, John Kerins, Kevin Scanlan, Declan O'Mahony, Brendan Searls, Damian Philpott, Tony Leahy. Front: Paddy Hayes, John Cremin, Gene Desmond (c), Dave Barry, John Meyler, Mick Carey. 

Scorers for St Finbarr’s: J O’Callaghan 0-4 (0-2 f), F Twomey, R Kenny and M Lynch 0-1 each

Scotstown: J McCabe 0-2 f, C Morgan and G McCarville 0-1 each

ST FINBARR’S: B O’Brien; D O’Grady, G Desmond, N Aherne; D Brosnan, P Philpott, M Carey; C Ryan, M Lynch; F Twomey, R Kenny, F O’Mahony; J Barry-Murphy, J Allen, J O’Callaghan.

Sub: C Myers for O’Mahony.

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