Cork senior hurling clubs have failed to fire in Munster in recent years

Blackrock never got the chance to buck the trend after county success in 2020
Cork senior hurling clubs have failed to fire in Munster in recent years

John O'Sullivan, Blackrock, takes on Steve Moylan and Donnacha Murphy, Douglas last season. The Rockies never got the chance to compete in the Munster hurling series.  Picture: Jim Coughlan.

The biggest casualty of the Covid crisis where the GAA is concerned was the cancellation of the various provincial and All-Ireland club championships.

Those games at all levels added substantially to the season and provided some wonderful end of year entertainment and subsequently when the new year began.

It’s over 50 years now since the senior club championship was introduced in both codes and on the hurling front, the early years were dominated by Cork teams, the city’s big three, Blackrock, Glen Rovers and the Barrs.

The Cork club champions were frequent visitors to Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day and had a great success rate.

In fact, in the early years of the competition, the provincial and All-Ireland trophies were almost the sole preserve of one from the Rockies, Barrs or Glen.

Of course, those teams were made up of some of the finest hurlers ever to don the red jersey of Cork and a lot of them subsequently went on to play a major role in the three-in-a-row years of 1976, 1977 and 1978.

Ten years later a very good Midleton team followed in the footsteps of the city sides and on a very emotional day in 1988 took the ultimate prize open to senior club teams.

Newtownshandrum had success too a few years later, bringing back the big pot to Leeside but the well has run dry since.

In fact, the Cork representatives of recent years have had little success.

Blackrock would have been back in the chase again this time if the competition had gone ahead and it would have been very interesting to see how they would have fared against the best from the rest of the province.

Given their pedigree in the competition, one would like to believe that they would have given a very good account of themselves and maybe have gone the full distance.

We’ll never know, of course, but the Church Road outfit would have loved to have pitted themselves against Limerick’s Na Piarsaigh, Tipp’s Kildangan, Clare’s Sixmilebridge and Waterford’s Ballygunner.

It would have been a tough ask for the Cork champions against some of the competition’s most seasoned campaigners in Na Piarsaigh and Ballygunner.

But the Rockies would have gone in on the back of a very successful campaign on the home front and with more to gain than to lose.

Maybe they’ll get their opportunity at the end of this season if they can retain their Cork title and if that was the case they’d certainly be a year older and a year wiser.

GLORY IN 1972

Let us reflect for a moment or two on the Rockies first success in the All-Ireland Club championship which arrived in 1972.

In the All-Ireland final at Walsh Park in Waterford, they faced the Wexford champions Rathnure and came out winning by a point in a very high-scoring encounter, 5-13 to 6-9.

Here's an extract from the match report: 'In a high-scoring hour of hurling Blackrock survived a late rally by Rathnure to take the All-Ireland title to Cork for the first time.

'The Leinster champions were in arrears by 12 points at one stage, however, the Rathnure men launched a stunning comeback to cut the deficit down to one point.

'Two of the scores, a goal and a point, came in the last two minutes of play.

'Blackrock retired at half-time with a deserved 4–5 to 3–4 lead.

'Rathnure fought back, however, they squandered some easy chances as Blackrock stubbornly held on.

'It was a star-studded affair with the Rathnure team having eight inter-county players on the team.

'Blackrock also had more than their fair share of inter-county stars and held on for a one-point win after an eleven-goal thriller.

Scorers for Blackrock: J Rothwell 3-1, P Moylan 0-8, D Prendergast 2-0, D Collins 03, R Cummins 0-1.

BLACKROCK: B Hurley; P Casey, P Geary, J Horgan; S Murphy, F Cummins, F Norberg; M Murphy, P Kavanagh; D Collins, R Cummins, P Moylan; D Prendergast, B Cummins, J Rothwell.

Sadly, quite a few of that Rockies team have been called to their eternal reward but they will be remembered as trailblazers in that year for others to follow.

Meanwhile, Blarney would have been Cork’s representative in the Munster and All-Ireland IHC and would surely have been one of the favourites for those competitions.

One from Lisgoold, Dromtarriffe, Clonakilty, Harbour Rovers or Kilshannig would have been the Cork representative in the Munster and All-Ireland JHC.

Of course, it’s all very much a case of what might have been but here’s hoping for a return at the end of this season.

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