Corn Uí Mhuirí title long overdue for Cork with four schools in contention

Corn Uí Mhuirí title long overdue for Cork with four schools in contention
Sean McCarthy, Coláiste Choilm, Ballincollig breaking between Tim Twohig and Colm O’Donovan, Hamilton High School, Bandon. Picture: Dan Linehan

THE Corn Uí Mhuirí, Munster’s premier second-level Gaelic football competition, resumes tomorrow with the quarter-finals.

Four Cork schools — St Francis College, Rochestown, Clonakilty Community College, Ballincollig’s Coláiste Choilm, and Hamilton High School of Bandon — remain, though a maximum of three of those can progress to the semi-finals, because Rochestown are playing Clon’.

A Cork victory in the competition is overdue. Not since a Coláiste Chríost Rí side featuring Luke Connolly, Conor Horgan, Kevin Fulignati, John Kerins Jr, Stephen Cronin, Ciarán Dalton, Alan Nolan, and Enda Dennehy beat Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne, in 2011, has Kerry’s domination been pierced. The four previous were won by St Brendan’s College, of Killarney (two), Tralee CBS, and Coláiste na Sceilge, and of the eight since, six have gone to Corca Dhuibhne and two to Brendan’s.

You have to go back to 1958-67 to find a longer period when Cork didn’t win: then, Waterford’s De La Salle claimed five, the ever-competitive Brendan’s won two, and Limerick CBS and St Flannan’s College, of Ennis, won one each.

There was a Cork golden period from 1978-85, when Críost Rí won six in eight years and St Fachtna’s, of Skibbereen, and Baile Bhúirne’s Coláiste Iosagáín also won. While Brendan’s won in 1986 — they have won 22 titles, though have had droughts from 1947-63 and 1994-2008 — the next five were all Cork, too: Skibb and Críost Rí twice and North Monastery taking the other. The same period was good for Cork at senior inter-county level.

Since the Skibb’ win in 1991 — they went all the way to All-Ireland glory, incidentally — Kerry schools have won 20 titles, Clare have one (Flannan’s in 1995), and Cork have six (Críost Rí four, and De La Salle Macroon and Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh, of Bishopstown, one each). The Munster senior inter-county tally over the same period isn’t too different: Kerry 18, Cork nine, and Clare one.

Cork wins in the Corn Uí Mhuirí probably have a knock-on effect at inter-county level. Look at the hurling equivalent, the Dr Harty Cup: Cork haven’t won an All-Ireland since 2005 and it was only last year that a Harty drought, stretching back to 2006, was ended. Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne haven’t qualified for this year’s Corn quarter-finals, but St Brendan’s are there, taking on St Flannan’s, so we can’t guarantee a ‘new’ name on the roll of honour.

Ray O'Halloran, St Francis College, Rochestown in action against Skibbereen. Picture: Larry Cummins
Ray O'Halloran, St Francis College, Rochestown in action against Skibbereen. Picture: Larry Cummins

Hammies and Rochestown topped their groups, with Clonakilty and Coláiste Choilm runners-up, but the formbook can’t be taken as a reliable indicator when the knockout stages start: last year, the Hammies were favourites against Clon’, having been imperious before Christmas, but Clon’ won their West Cork derby in Newcestown.

Coláiste Choilm have the shortest straw, going up against Pobalscoil Sliabh Luachra, of Rathmore, who won all three games in a group featuring Clon’, Macroom, and CBS High School Clonmel.

Nevertheless, before losing to Hammies in their group decider, the Ballincollig school had beaten Corca Dhuibhne and Tralee’s Mercy Mounthawk, so Kerry opposition hold no fears for them.

Rochestown and Clon’ could be a cracker, with the guarantee that there will be at least one Cork representative in the semi-finals. Even aside from the eight years without a victory, in the last four editions of the competition, the final has been a Cork-free zone, with Macroom twice losing finalists, since the 2011 Críost Rí win, while Rochestown lost to Corca Dhuibhne after a replay.

Putting that final stat right would be some consolation and it’s what happened with the Harty, as Midleton’s win last year came after they, Rochestown, and St Colman’s College, of Fermoy, had appeared in deciders in the seasons before that. We knew before last year’s Harty final that it would be a Cork win, as Midleton and Christian Brothers College contested it. We would take it if something similar happened with the Corn Uí Mhuirí this year.

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