Cork GAA Jersey Wars: Ballincollig versus Valley Rovers

Your votes will decide which club geansaí goes into the next round
Cork GAA Jersey Wars: Ballincollig versus Valley Rovers

Ballincollig player John Dwyer on the attack against Valley Rovers in the 1999 intermediate semi-final. These days the clubs wear their alternative jerseys when they meet. Picture: Des Barry

WE want to know what your favourite GAA geansaí is.

From here until the end of August, your votes will decide the best design in our Cork GAA Jersey Wars competition.

Our resident jersey expert Denis Hurley compiled a list of 32 clubs, based on those involved in the senior tiers and a selection of wild cards. We put them in alphabetical order and paired them up, number two versus 31, which is Ballincollig-Valley Rovers, and mapped out the path to the final. 

Full details of the competition are here.

Voting will run from 8am each day for 24 hours on the link below:

BALLINCOLLIG

IT MAKES sense that a club known as ‘the Village’ should wear a primarily green kit, but it hasn’t always been that way for Ballincollig.

The first instance of a club in the area was in 1886, with Carrigrohane entering the 1887 championship, while the name Ballincollig Gladstonians was used by a team in the 1891 competition. Victory in the 1895 Bride Valley Tournament put the club on the map, but, as was so often the case in those days, clubs went through fallow periods that left them on the brink of extinction, or at least dormancy. For Ballincollig, the 1903 closure of the town’s gunpowder mills had a severe effect on the local economy and it wasn’t until 1909, and the arrival of Fr Dan O’Donovan as parish priest, that things began to pick up again.

As far as can be ascertained, the club’s colours in that early part of the 20th century were red, white, and black hoops, but 1919 saw the adoption of green and white; perhaps a choice rooted in nationalism, given the time that the change occurred.

However, there was a return to the red, white, and black, not long after that, before the final switch to green in 1954. Journalist Aubert Twomey, a font of knowledge on all things Ballincollig, does not think there was any deep rationale behind the change, bar personal preference.

Aubert also makes the point that red, white, and black would be less troublesome from a colour-clash point of view, as it’s a distinctive combination, while there are so many clubs that have green as a dominant colour.

To that end, Ballincollig are able to have the best of both worlds. While plain red jerseys were worn when the club lost the 1991 county IFC final against Aghada — also usually green, but blue on that occasion — since the mid-1990s, the red, white, and black have been adopted as the official alternative.

Ballincollig's Seán Kiely. Picture: Larry Cummins
Ballincollig's Seán Kiely. Picture: Larry Cummins

The club were ahead of the times, as, back then, most clubs were still in the habit of borrowing sets of jerseys when the need arose, but the red, white, and black stays associated with them, while also removing the ‘colour anxiety’ of teams that are unwilling to don a second strip unless it is absolutely necessary.

That was proven on the ultimate stage, as Ballincollig opted to wear the back-up kit against Carbery Rangers when they won the 2014 county senior title for the first time.

The current first-choice shirt is made by Masita and features white and darker green as accent colours, with Quish’s SuperValu providing the sponsorship.

VALLEY ROVERS

WHILE green and white kits are quite popular in Cork and beyond – often with gold added — Valley Rovers’ colourway is a rare if not unique one.

Formed in 1919 as a result of the merger between Innishannon and Knockavilla, the two clubs in the parish of that name, it would appear that the Rovers have worn their colours since the beginning.

Though more associated with soccer, where Celtic and Shamrock Rovers are both known as the Hoops due to the strong sense of identity that comes with having such a combination, Valleys have made the green and white horizontals notable in Cork, especially as a result of the success enjoyed over the past decade and a half.

Beginning with the county IFC title in 2008, the club followed that with the premier football championship a year later, when the intermediate hurling was won for the first time since 1989.

Valleys competed at senior football level for two years and, though they suffered relegation back down to premier intermediate, there were green shoots in the form of county U21 football titles in 2013 and 2015, with another PIFC title coming in the year in between.

Since then, they have become established at senior, unlucky not to reach at least one semi-final. In addition, the premier intermediate hurling final was reached in 2015, with the club losing out to Newcestown in the quest to become the only non-city dual senior club.

And it’s not just in men’s Gaelic games that recent times have been good — on the camogie front, Valleys won the county senior B championship in 2017 while the same year saw the claiming of ladies’ football county junior league, with the junior A championship claimed in 2020 after two final defeats prior to that.

Fiachra Lynch on the ball. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Fiachra Lynch on the ball. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Over the past decade, when a change of jerseys has been required – against teams such as Dohenys and Kanturk — Valleys have fielded in navy tops, though prior to the purchase of that set, the 2008 season brought what must surely be a record as the team wore four different jerseys in the adult men’s county championship.
As well as the regular green and white hoops, they wore the yellow and black of their division Carrigdhoun in the IFC first round against Aghabullogue, then the hurlers unusually wore the purple and gold of Carbery when they took on St Vincent’s while the footballers, clashing with Macroom in the quarter-finals of that successful IFC run, were in blue and green — the Garda Credit Union kit for inter-firms competitions.

The current shirt is the modern O’Neills style, featuring solid green sleeves, with Kevin O’Leary Motor Group the sponsors.

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