FOR a new generation, St Finbarr’s participation in the Munster club football championship is indeed novel.
They’ll be giddy with excitement and anticipation as plans are made for tomorrow’s trip to Killarney for the semi-final against Dr Croke’s on their own pitch.
And for those not in the know, it’s across the road from Fitzgerald Stadium, but parking is very restricted, so be prepared.
And yet, for older generations, following the Barrs on their travels around the province and places further afield came as a matter of course, especially during the golden era of the 1980s.
Their involvement could be broken down into two categories, when they were Cork champions and Leeside’s representatives, having been defeated by divisional teams in county finals.
The ‘Barr’s were last champions in 1985, when they defeated Clonakilty in a wind-affected final, not having scored in he second-half.
Their first venture out in Munster pitched them against Tipperary’s Arravale Rovers, who couldn’t live with the Barrs, as reflected in the 2-11 to 0-3 scoreline.
Tony Leahy and Christy Ryan bagged the goals a 0-7 to create a semi-final with Kilrossanty from Waterford.
A Declan O’Mahony goal together with Dave Barry registering 0-7 led the ‘Barr’s to a decisive 1-16 to 0-6 victory.
Nobody knew at the time that the clubs would clash again 12 months later in a far more eventful match.
Three days before Christmas, the Togher club travelled to Bruff in Co Limerick to try and dethrone Castleisland Desmonds as Munster and All-Ireland champions. It turned out to be a nightmare.
An early goal drove the Kerry champions to 1-8 to 0-4 half-time time after playing with the strong wind and the ‘Barr’s could only manage one more point on the resumption to complete a miserable afternoon, Desmonds winning by 1-11 to 0-5.
It’s the first time the new Cork champions will be competing in Munster since 1991, when Dr Croke’s also provided the opposition in a quarter-final played in Ballincollig.
Duhallow had defeated the Barrs in the county final, but couldn’t represent Cork in Munster, so their opponents went forward and gave it a right go despite the circumstances.
Ryan scored 1-2 for the Barrs, who were only denied an injury-time winning point from Danny Cooper as Croke’s progressed to the semi-final on a 2-8 to 1-10 scoreline.
The Barrs were in the same position in 1986. They lost their grip on the Andy Scannell, when Imokilly stunned them with a shock one-point defeat, 2-4 to 0-9, in the county final.
Yet, the Barrs went all the way to All-Ireland glory on an epic journey that had many twists.
Despite not being the Cork champions, they shocked Austin Stacks in Tralee in the Munster semi-final, leading from start to finish.
Barry kicked six of their 11 points with Stacks managing just five to set-up a final with Kilrossanty in Dungarvan.
A 2-15 to 1-5 victory suggests a comfortable ride to the title, but it was far from that because the Barrs had two players sent-off and were struggling to contain the Waterford side.
Yet, the star-filled visitors had enough quality to more than cope with their numerical disadvantage and dominated the closing stages for an emphatic victory in the end.
Barry top-scored with 0-9 and Ryan was among the goals again with Paddy Hayes chipping in with the other. Mick Barry added an important 0-3.
There was further drama in the All-Ireland semi-final against Castleblaney-Faughs with Mick Slocum coming to the rescue with an injury-time equaliser in a 2-9 to 1-12 draw after the Barrs looked likely winners from way out.
The replay back in Cork was also very close with goals from Slocum, Ryan and Declan O’Mahony helping the Munster champions to 3-5 to 2-7 triumph.
The Barrs won the final by 0-10 to 0-7 victory, the first of four successive final defeats for Clann na nGael (Roscommon).