Imokilly, Sarsfields, Carrigtwohill and Midleton made it a decade of dominance for eastern hurling

Imokilly, Sarsfields, Carrigtwohill and Midleton made it a decade of dominance for eastern hurling
Imokilly’s Paudie O’Sullivan with James Nagle of Midleton. Picture: INPHO/Oisin Keniry

Kieran Murphy breaks down the stats behind Imokilly hurling teams’ amazing success from 2010 to 2019...

IT has been a decade of hurling to remember with great affection in East Cork.

At all levels, teams from the barony have resounding tales of success to tell, from senior to premier intermediate, intermediate, junior and U21.

During the 2010s, five different sides have gotten their hands on the Seán Óg Murphy Cup, with four from East Cork.

Imokilly, Sarsfields, Carrigtwohill, and Midleton delivered, with the divisional outfit finishing the decade in style racking up the three titles on the bounce, the first since St Finbarr’s from 1980-1982.

The Glen were the only club to break the East Cork dominance, and in both years they defeated clubs from the region — Erin’s Own and Sars.

The 2000s had concluded with East Cork side lifting three of the last four championships.

This decade saw two all-eastern finals, Midleton beating Sars in 2013 and Imokilly defeating the Magpies in 2018.

When dissecting the 2010 campaign, straight away the amount of East Cork derbies sticks out immediately — seven. On top of this, five of the eight quarter-finalists hailed from the barony, before the cup ended up in Riverstown for the second time in three campaigns.

The side who play in blue and white weren’t done for the decade, reaching a further four finals, winning two.

In the 2012 season, Sars were in fine form, defeating Cloyne, CIT, Carrigtwohill, and Blackrock en route to the final.

They were clinical in front of the goal, scoring 11 goals. They overcame Bishopstown in a really close final on a score of 1-15 to 1-13. Sadly from an East Cork perspective, Cloyne were relegated.

2014 was a relatively poor year as Youghal and Sarsfields were the clubs to make the quarter-finals. Sars went on to the final though, where they thrashed the Glen, with Kieran Murphy and Tadhg Óg Murphy raising green flags to cap off a run of four titles in seven years!

Glen Rovers recovered brilliantly from the defeat of course, going on to win two titles on the bounce, ending a 26-year drought in the process.

Rewinding back to 2011 we saw one of the greatest underdog stories of the century as Carrigtwohill raised their second senior crown.

A last-minute point in the final from substitute Seánie O’Farrell grabbed the victory for Carrig as they overcame CIT, the win bridging an incredible 93-year gap.

They defeated neighbours Midleton, Cloyne, Muskerry, and Ballinhassig en route to an iconic victory, led by captain Brian Lordan and senior players such as Michael Fitzgerald and Niall McCarthy.

Interestingly, defending champions Sars were knocked out in the quarters by Newtown.

In the lead-up to the 2013 season the question was — could Sars do two-in-a-row, after failing to achieve the same feat in 2009 and 2011?

They did manage to reach the final again, however they were pipped at the line by a young Midleton side with Cork star Conor Lehane to the fore. Pádraig O’Shea got the honour of lifting the Sean Óg Murphy Cup — a first for the club since 1991.

Lehane stole the show, scoring 2-10 as he finished as the top scorer in the championship with 5-48.

Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Rounding the decade, we have the record-setting Imokilly. In 2016, Imokilly had exited the championship in the fourth round after losing out in an absolute classic against Erin’s Own. Eoghan Murphy notched 13 points in a 2-21 to 2-20 success. The game marks the last time Imokilly were defeated. Since then, they’ve gone 18 unbeaten with only two ending in a draw.

Those two draws were all the way back in 2017 in the quarter- and semi-final stages. In the quarters, they overcame Erin’s Own in the replay after a stunning 3-16 to 2-19 draw in the first game.

Dalton and Mulcahy found the back of the net for Imokilly while Murphy was yet again an absolute menace for Erin’s Own, notching 1-8.

The semi-finals were in a pair of epic derbies against Sarsfields. The initial tie ended 1-24 to 2-21 as Jack O’Connor and Tadhg Óg both contributed 1-2 each for Sars. For Imokilly, Aghada ace Cian Fleming was superb, scoring 1-5.

In the second affair, Paudie and Harnedy were the stars of the show scoring 2-3 each as Imokilly reached their first SHC Final since 2001.

They saw off the Rockies in the final with Harnedy, Fleming, and Mulcahy hitting the net.

A year later, the divisional powerhouse were triumphant yet again. They swept past CIT, Bishopstown, Newcestown, and UCC to book their place in the final against Midleton.

Imokilly’s exploits in front of goal turned out to be the difference as they ran out 4-19-1-18 winners.

Cloyne man Paudie O’Sullivan and St Ita’s Seamus Harnedy were the standout players, scoring 1-6 and 2-1 respectively.

Incredibly, Imokilly ended the championship with three players in the top 10 scorers — Paudie O’Sullivan 7-9, Will Leahy 0-30, Séamus Harnedy 3-18.

They were favourites this year and duly defeated Carrigdhoun, Carbery, Midleton, Sars, and St Finbarr’s before facing Glen Rovers, edging them 2-17 to 1-16. Seamus Harnedy’s goal in first-half injury time was crucial.

The East Cork class goes much deeper than the eight senior titles. The East Cork region has had 35 representatives in the quarter-final phase. The remainder of Cork has had 45.

The semi-finals have seen 21 sides from outside the region compete, while an East Cork team has been involved on 19 occasions.

The most stunning stat is that it has produced 12 finalists this decade, four more than the rest of the county combined.

Moving down the competitions, in Premier Intermediate, two of the winners have hailed from the east. Youghal defeated Castlelyons in 2013 while this year Fr O’Neill’s were successful against Kilworth.

East Cork had six PIHC teams this season, O’Neill’s, Watergrasshill, Castlelyons, Youghal, Cloyne, and Aghada.

Moving down further to intermediate, two of the last four winners have been from East Cork. Fr O’Neills lifted the Paddy Walsh Cup in 2016 and a year later, Aghada beat Éire Óg in the final.

As for the Junior Hurling Championship, four of the last six winners have been East Cork outfits. Also, all of the last six finals have featured a team from the Barony with Russell Rovers losing out to Cloughduv last season while Sarsfields fell just short against Mayfield in 2016.

In 2014, Castlemartyr bridged a 50-year gap and 12 months later, near-neighbours Dungourney were crowned junior hurling champions for the first time in their history.

In 2017, St Catherine’s got it done after a replay and this season we experienced an all-East Cork final as Russell Rovers got the better of a gallant Carraig na BhFear outfit. The sides also faced off in the Jamesy Kelleher Cup final this season.

This success adds up to 16 trophies this decade for Imokilly clubs. The next best you ask? Avondhu and Carrigdhoun, both with five.

As for the U21 championships, Premier 1 has seen four East Cork winners this decade thus far. Of course, this season’s campaign is just after commencing with Midleton considered the favourites after just being pipped at the line last year by East Cork counterparts Fr O’Neill’s in a classic where, after extra-time, Deccie Dalton was the standout player as he put on an exhibition from placed balls.

The year before, it was another all- East Cork final as Sars overcame Killeagh/Ita’s. Earlier in the decade, the Magpies were victorious twice, in 2011 and 2013.

In the U21 A grade, two of the last three champions have been East Cork teams — Bride Rovers and Erin’s Own.

Since its inception in 2010, there have been six East Cork winners of the U21 B Hurling Championship — Castlelyons, Watergrasshill, Sarsfields, Killeagh/Ita’s, Dungourney, and St Catherine’s have all gotten their hands on the Gene Fitzgerald Cup.

Shifting to the minor scene, this season saw Midleton land the P1 title and Kiltha Óg the P2.

A total of 25 different players from the barony have been selected on the Cork panel. That’s eight more than next best, Seandún. Amazingly, third on the list is Duhallow with just six.

The Imokily players come from a total of 12 clubs.

Going down the age groups with Cork, the performances of Midleton CBS in recent years in the Harty Cup have came as breath of fresh air.

A total of six players from the CBS side this season have had involvement with Cork throughout various ages, whereas with the 2018 squad, eight players have been selected by the county at one stage or another.

Sean O’Sullivan, Aaron Walsh Barry and Ger Millerick are just some of the players who have made an impact on the inter-county stage.

It’s much of the same this season with three players from the Cork minors also a part of the Midleton CBS Harty squad.

Sean Walsh of Carrigtwohill, Brion Saunderson from Midleton, and Isaac Walsh of Lisgoold all had starring roles for Cork minors this season.

In the last two seasons, a further eight players from the East Cork district that have not played for CBS Midleton have made an appearance for Cork minors.

Players include Bride Rovers’ Paddy O’Flynn, Midleton’s Aaron Mulcahy, and Daire O’Leary of Watergrasshill. In comparison, for Cork U20s’ six starters this season were from East Cork: Liam O’Shea (Lisgoold), Sean O’Leary Hayes (Midleton), Shane O’Regan (Watergrasshill), Ger Millerick (Fr O’Neills), Eoin and Brian Roche (Bride Rovers).

There’s an abundance of young talent coming through from East Cork, like Ross O’Regan who played for Cork in the Munster League and is a regular starter with the Midleton seniors.

A total of 25 inter-county players, eight senior hurling championships, two PIHCs, two intermediate triumphs, and four junior crowns sums up what has been a decade of dominance for East Cork.

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