Féile special: Glen made their mark on the great competitions in the '70s

Féile special: Glen made their mark on the great competitions in the '70s
Glen Rovers All-Ireland Féile winners 1975.

IN his Examiner match report after Glen Rovers historic first Féile victory at Pairc Uí Naoineáin, Togher Michael Ellard wrote: “Many notable achievements have been attained by Glen Rovers in their illustrious history. Yesterday another was added when they were crowned kings of All-Ireland U14 hurling.

"They took the premier award in the 1975 Féile na nGael juvenile hurling blitz when they defeated Kilkenny representatives St John’s by a single point. It was a day savoured to the full by Glen Rovers. They stood on the wings as both Blackrock and Piarsaigh, on two successive occasions, lifted the trophy. The Glen began preparations just after Christmas and yesterday reaped the fruits of that endeavour.”

Before a huge attendance at the colour bedecked St Finbarr’s Grounds, inspired by a tremendous half-back line composed of Dan O’Halloran, Christy Marshall and Sean Wilson, soaked up the Kilkenny challenge and then succeeded in laying the groundwork for victory. 

Before they found their feet Kilkenny, aided by a strong wind, had raced into a three-point lead. A cracking goal by skipper Liam McCarthy had the Blackpool squad on level terms after ten minutes play. A point by Paul Moylan left the Kilkenny side 0-4 to 1-0 ahead at the interval.

As both sides struggled for supremacy it was in affect anyone's game. Defences remained on top and, with tension at a fever pitch, McCarthy pointed to equalise in the 27th minute, then three minutes later stamped Glen’s insignia on the trophy when he pointed again after connecting with a free taken by Christy Ring junior.

In the semi-finals, Glen beat the home team St Finbarr’s, conquerors of holders Na Piarsaigh, in a game of classical proportions while St John’s accounted for Midleton. Two horn tooting cavalcades paraded up great William O’Brien Street that night as the Division 2 competition was won, amidst emotional scenes, by the Glen’s closest neighbours Delanys. 

Ballinure made it a clean sweep for the Rebel county by capturing the Division 3 trophy. The camogie championship held in conjunction with the event was won by Knockanna (Wicklow). 

A total of 64 teams from 31 counties participated in a festival of hurling which above all else fosters and promotes everything that is good in Gaelic games.

Glen retained their title in 1976 when the competition which attracted two thousand players from the thirty-two counties assembled once more in Cork where the finals were played in the span-new Páirc Uí Chaoimbh. Glen were never troubled in beating a disappointing Clare side. 

Their full-forward line of Mulcahy, McMahon and Ring were much too strong and after leading 4-1 to 0-2 at the interval Glen coasted home in the second half. There were other historic Leeside winners with Na Piarsaigh bringing the camogie title to Cork and Faranree for the first time when defeating Thomastown (Kilkenny) by a point in a thrilling final.

Con Murphy, President of the GAA, lauded the organising committee who did a magnificent job over the hectic weekend and had special praise for Fr Bertie Troy, chairman of the executive committee.

Cork’s dominance continued in 1977 and ’78 with wins for Piarsaigh, (their third) and Barrs (a historic first). 

Kilkenny got the nod to host the games in 1979 and a record 400 teams represented by 10,000 players took part in the county stages sponsored by Coca Cola. 

The Cork finals were staged in St Finbarr’s grounds in front of a massive attendance. Once more the home team fell at the decisive hurdle when they were defeated by Glen Rovers 4-7 to 2-4. Glen, who were hosted by Erin’s Own, Castlecomer, were confident of continuing Cork’s stranglehold on the trophy.

Glen Rovers' Féile team in 1979. 
Glen Rovers' Féile team in 1979. 

They succeeded and in the process added another chapter to their illustrious history. In a typical Cork v Tipp clash, they had just one point to spare over the Premier County representatives at the end of an exciting encounter.

They led 0-4 to 0-2 at half-time and on the change-over increased it to five when Finbarr Murphy crashed home a stunning goal. A Glen lapse allowed the Tipp team score 1-1, setting the scene for a hectic last five minutes. 

Magnificent defensive work enabled the Leesiders to hold off the determined Tipperary onslaught. 

Centre-back John McCarthy was Player of the Tournament, while skipper Dave McCarthy added his own piece of history to the Féile as his brothers Liam and Jim already captained the Glen in their previous All-Ireland victories.

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