FLASHBACK: The day Newtown landed Cork's last All-Ireland hurling club crown

FLASHBACK: The day Newtown landed Cork's last All-Ireland hurling club crown
Newtownshandrum's Ben O'Connor strikes a free in the All-Ireland final in 2004. Picture: Dan Linehan

All-Ireland Club SHC final, 2004: Newtownshandrum 0-17 Dunloy (Antrim) 1-6 

TOMORROW marks the 13th anniversary of a Cork side last winning an All-Ireland Club SHC title, when Newtownshandrum crowned themselves as champions.

When grouped with the droughts at senior, U21 and minor grades at a national level, it makes for a grim package, but at the same time, while there is a link, the club championship is a competition that can be decoupled from the intercounty fare.

Obviously, the dominance of Blackrock, Glen Rovers and St Finbarr’s in the competition in the 1970s aided Cork’s All-Ireland three-in-a-row and Munster five-in-a-row in that decade, but before Newtown’s 2004 win, one had to go back to Midleton’s triumph of 1988 for the last Cork win.

There were minor wins in 1995, ’98 and 2001, with final defeats in 1988, ’90 and ’94, while at U21 Cork won 1988, ’97 and ’98 and there were senior victories in 1990 and ’99. All the while, the Munster – and obviously All-Ireland club titles – remained elusive and it wasn’t until 2003 that the drought would be ended.

Newtownshandrum had won their first county title in 2000 and lost the ’02 decided to Blackrock before turning the tables on the Rockies the following year (incidentally, the city side are still waiting to add to their tally of 32).

Munster glory would be achieved when Toomevara were seen off by 0-15 to 1-9 in the provincial decider in November. Against O’Loughlin Gaels in the All-Ireland semi-final, a replay was needed before Newtown prevailed, with Antrim’s Dunloy providing the opposition in the final on St Patrick’s Day.

As was the case against Toomevara, Newtown’s opponents wore green and gold jerseys, necessitating a change. In the Munster final, the actual Cork jerseys, with O2 sponsorship, were worn, but this time it was a bespoke red and white strip featuring the club name in Irish on the front. Dunloy wore the Antrim colours, effectively a reversal of their usual style.

Colm McGuckian opened the scoring for the men from the Glens inside the first minute, but poor shooting – in the form of six first-half wides – was to hamper them while Newtown eventually began to find their feet.

Liam Richmond would get Dunloy’s second point in the 19th minute but Newtown got on top, with Ben O’Connor’s free-taking very impressive while the hardworking Alan T O’Brien also got on the scoresheet.

It was 0-7 to 0-2 at half-time, but the opening stages of the second half brought hope for Dunloy after Martin Curry was fouled for a penalty, which goalkeeper Gareth McGhee fired to the net to reduce the gap to just two points.

Ben O’Connor had a wide just after that and Richmond got another Dunloy point to leave the minimum between the teams but Newtown in their pomp never resorted to panic and they wouldn’t do so on the biggest stage, either.

That Ben O’Connor wide proved to be just an aberration as his free-taking reliability returned while his brother Jerry more than made his presence felt too, despite an ankle injury hampering him towards the end of the game.

As the points continued to go over with the end nearing, the subs on the sideline began to replace their red shirts with the usual green and gold, and at the whistle the team followed suit before following captain John McCarthy to accept the trophy that confirmed them as the best team in Ireland.

Scorers for Newtownshandrum: B O’Connor (0-10, 0-7f), AT O’Brien 0-3, I Kelleher, Jerry O’Connor, J Bowles, M Morrissey 0-1 each.

Scorers for Dunloy: G McGhee (1-0 penalty), L Richmond, P Richmond 0-2 each, C McGuckian, A Elliott 0-1 each.

NEWTOWNSHANDRUM: P Morrissey; J McCarthy, B Mulcahy, G O'Mahony; I Kelleher, P Mulcahy, P Noonan; AT O'Brien, Jerry O'Connor; D Mulcahy, B O'Connor, JP King; J Bowles, D O'Riordan, M Farrell.

Subs: John O'Connor for Farrell (half-time), M Morrissey for O'Riordan (51), D Naughton for JP King (58), AG O'Brien for O’Mahony (60).

CUCHULLAINS, DUNLOY: G McGhee; S Mullan, Gary O'Kane, F McMullan; M Molloy, M McClements, D McMullan; C Cunning, P McMullen; L Richmond, C McGuckian, P Richmond; M Curry, Gregory O'Kane, A Elliott.

Sub: D Quinn for Curry (39).

Referee: B Kelly (Westmeath).

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