IT was a golden age for divisional sides in the Cork County SHC, four titles between the years 1994 and 1998. Carbery won it out in 94, Avondhu in 96 with Imokilly triumphant in 1997 and 1998.
Imokilly and Avondhu would always have been seen as hurling strongholds but Carbery’s breakthrough in 94 surprised many.
That’s not saying that there was not good hurlers in the Western division but football would have been the formidable force in the area.
Same as ever.
Carbery’s march to glory in the ‘94 campaign culminated with a victory over a far more fancied Midleton team, a Midleton team that contained members of their ‘86, ‘87 and ‘91 title-winning sides.
It’s, of course, 25 years on from that wonderful Carbery victory and it’s worth recalling it again.
One of the stars of the side was Newcestown’s Pat Kenneally who was selected as man of the match in the aftermath of their superb triumph over the east Cork team.
“As yes, it was a great year for us, no doubt about that, Kenneally told the Echo.
“We had a very good management team who had us brilliantly organised and the players bought into that.
“I suppose we’d have been looking up at Midleton and the players that they had and what they had achieved in the past number of years and now we were going in to play against them in a county final. And beating a side like that in the final made it all the sweeter.”
Twelve months earlier, Carbery had been beaten by just a point by the Barrs, the last occasion as it has turned out that the city side lifted the trophy.
“Yes, it wasn’t an overnight thing for us, we had lost by a point a year earlier against a very good Barrs team so we knew that we were not that far off it.
“We had a very strong team behind us, Noel Crowley, Peter O’Halloran, Pat Ryan, John Joe Crowley and they put a huge amount into it.
“We had a fine side, players from strong hurling clubs in the division and you had somebody like Mark Foley who had won an All-Ireland a few years earlier with Cork on the bench.
“I must mention too that in 1993 we had Justin McCarthy with us and he did some fantastic work in getting us into the final that year. His training was so different, you were coming to training to learn, not just to have a puck around. Great credit must go to him and then it all came right for us a year later.”
Kenneally remembers marking Pat Hartnett in that county final of ‘94 and that was a huge personal challenge for him.
“It was, Pat was a top-class, inter-county hurler. Marking him was a challenge for me personally, going in to measure yourself against the best as he was.
“So to win it in that situation was great and I ended up being selected as the man of the match, so I must have done something right.”
And that was a nice honour for a player who was wholehearted in everything that he did, a warrior of his time.
“It was all about the team but it was a nice honour and now 25 years later, good to look back on.
“As I said, the management, it was their personality that gave us so much, they brought us along and it all worked out well for us in the end.”
That night the squad celebrated in the Munster Arms Hotel in Bandon.
Sadly, one of the stars of that great Carbery victory, Michael Holland went to his eternal reward a number of years ago but he will be remembered next Sunday when the team is presented to the attendance before the meeting of the Glen and Imokilly.
The teams on that September day 25 years ago were:
CARBERY: C Wilson (Newcestown); A White (Barryroe), G Ryan (Ballinascarty), J Wilson (Newcestown); M Holland (Kilbrittain), T Crowley (Argideen), J O’Sullivan (Newcestown); C Murphy (Ballinascarty), D O’Neill (Kilbrittain); D O’Donoghue (Bandon), P Kenneally (Newcestown), P Crowley (Bandon); D O’Connell (Kilbrittain), G O’Connell (do), B Harte (Argideen Rangers).
Sub: M Foley (Argideen Rangers) for White.
MIDLETON: G Power; Colman Quirke, M Boylan, E Murphy; P Smyth, P Hartnett, W Wallis; K Roche, D Quirke; G Fitzgerald, P O’Brien, Cormac Quirke; G Manley, K Hennessy, M O’Mahony.
Referee: J O’Leary (Na Piarsaigh)