Flashback: Fr O'Neill's were hurling kings of Croke Park in 2006

Flashback: Fr O'Neill's were hurling kings of Croke Park in 2006
Fr O'Neill's Colin Buckley celebrates their victory over Erin's Own at Croke Park in 2006. Picture: Dan Linehan

IT’S a second day out in Croke Park for Fr O’Neill’s on Saturday in the All-Ireland Club IHC final, 14 years since they were successful in the junior club final of that year against Erin’s Own from Carlow.

A trawl through the club’s archives brings back golden memories of that epic occasion on Jones’ Road. 

It reads: 'Croke Park beckoned on Feb. 12th for an All-Ireland final against Carlow and Leinster champions, Erin’s Own.

Twice as many people travelled to the final, as did all the year. Practically all households from the parish were represented in headquarters that day along with our growing number of fans from Eas Cork. Hotels, guesthouses, family relations and friends were called upon to house the crowd that descended on the Capital on that Saturday evening.

The buzz around Croke Park prior to the game was something to behold. From babies to parents, from grannies to grand dads, sisters and brothers, all decked out in the colours of Green and Red.

The game was one of the most hotly contested games, outside of the county final against Kilworth this team had in a 15-month campaign.

Eddie Holland had the honour of scoring the first point after 27 seconds. It was nip and tuck in the first half with a goal coming from Eoin Conway after Gary Doyle had goaled for Erin’s Own.

The half time score stood at 1-8 to 1-4 in our favour.

The second half was again evenly contested but a man-of-the-match display by Ger O’Leary sealed an historic occasion in the annals of the club by being crowned All-Ireland champions for 2006.

John Flavin, Fr O'Neill's knocking this ball over the bar from John Rogers, Erin's Own. Picture Dan Linehan
John Flavin, Fr O'Neill's knocking this ball over the bar from John Rogers, Erin's Own. Picture Dan Linehan

Grown men and women, children of all ages, wearing the green and red, embraced each other in scenes unlikely to be seen in our lifetime again.

Some of those in attendance, were men who had played in previous Fr. O’Neill’s teams that were unsuccessful in years gone by, shed a tear, and their lips quivered when spoken to. This is what it means to all involved in their club over the years.

Jer Holland, in accepting the cup, spoke of the sacrifices of so many people who were instrumental in getting Fr O’Neill’s to Croke Park.

You could sense the emotion filling the stand as he spoke and when he lifted the cup aloft, the shouts of the large attendance, echoed around Croke Park as if there were 80,000 people there. This was a moment in each of our own lives to savour.'

Picture: Richard Mills.
Picture: Richard Mills.

On Saturday all those loyal supporters, some far too young to be present that day 14 years ago, will hope for a repeat of that never to be forgotten occasion, a day for the ages.

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