Cork GAA Jersey Wars: Bride Rovers v Sarsfields

Your votes will decide which club geansaí goes into the next round
Cork GAA Jersey Wars: Bride Rovers v Sarsfields

Sarsfields' Daniel Roche and Bride Rovers' Shane Walsh tussle for the ball in 2014. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

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 four versus 29, which is Blackrock-St Finbarr's, 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:

BRIDE ROVERS

WHEN Bartlemy and Rathcormac merged in the autumn of 1928, there were two issues to be decided — the name of the new entity and the colours that would be worn.

David John Barry suggested Bride Rovers, based on the river that runs through the parish and, though there were some concerns that the ‘Rovers’ part was a bit too closely associated with soccer, it was adopted.

Blue and white were chosen as the colours and club member Billy Barry, who was working in Cork at the time, was tasked with buying a set of jerseys. Having priced a few options, he found a cheaper alternative in one shop — however, instead of the agreed colours, they were a green, white and gold horizontal tricolour. Financial considerations won out and the club adopted the patriotic colour-scheme, with players paying 1d a week to cover the cost.

The club disbanded in 1950 but was revived in 1964 and history repeated itself as, once again, blue and white were nominated as the colours but this time a suitable blue set of jerseys could not be found and once again the green, white and gold prevailed.

It was in these colours that the club’s emergence as a force in Cork began with the winning of the junior championship in 1998, the intermediate following in 2003 along with the Munster title. Then, in 2008, Bride reached the county senior final for the first time, taking on Sarsfields, but they fell to a late surge from their Glanmire opponents.

 Cian O’Connor of Bride Rovers in action against Newcestown in 2020. Picture: Dan Linehan
Cian O’Connor of Bride Rovers in action against Newcestown in 2020. Picture: Dan Linehan

In 2015, it was decided to seek an alternative strip for games where Bride clashed with opponents such as Newtownshandrum, Blackrock and Ballymartle. The senior hurling management team of Joe Delaney, Daniel Lane and William O’Leary were given the task of choosing the colours of the second jersey and, cognisant of the fact that blue had been originally intended as a central colour, they opted for a blue shirt with a green band. The senior players purchased this set of jerseys from their own resources at the time and so the tops don’t have a sponsor’s name, with the club’s name appearing in Irish instead. On the primary set, Rathcormac Tyres takes up the advertising space.

While the club found itself in senior A after the county championship restructuring at the end of 2019, there are talented youngsters coming through, as evidenced by the U21 A title of 2018. With things going well off the pitch too — the club’s headquarters in Rathcormac has been upgraded while 13 acres of land have been purchased for back-up pitches – hopes are high that the green, white and gold can be raised high once more.

SARSFIELDS

WHILE it feels like Twitter has been around forever at times, it’s still a relatively new invention and not every club has mastered the use of hashtags just yet.

Sarsfields have no problems in that regard, with the unique #BBAWS on posts acting as a shibboleth for those in the know. At first glance, it looks a bit alphabet-soupish but there’s a meaning behind it — blue, black and white Sars.

The club’s colours are unique in Cork — well, in Cork GAA at any rate, because there is a suggestion that they were inspired by another famous entity that uses those three colours. When Sars were formed in 1896, one of the founder members was Willie O’Neill, who would go on to win All-Irelands with Cork in 1902 and 1903. As well as hurling, and football with William O’Briens, O’Neill was a talented rugby player for Cork Constitution, who of course also hold blue, black and white dear to their hearts.

Con favour white jerseys, so perhaps the link is reverse-engineered, with Sars favouring blue jerseys with black collars and cuffs and a white hoop, with white shorts and black socks traditionally worn.

In 1947, Sars made it to the county final for the fourth time, having lost the previous three, twice to Glen Rovers and once to Dungourney. On this occasion, they were up against St Finbarr’s, who also play in blue and so the Riverstown side donned the red of Cork but they would again be unsuccessful, losing by 4-6 to 4-4. However, glory arrived in 1951 and again in 1957. By the time Sars would next claim the Seán Óg Murphy Cup, in 2008, they had a very different look.

The first round of that year’s championship paired Sars with Ballinhassig and both clubs had to change, with the south-east side in white and Sars in a new all-black kit. Having won that match, they decided to retain the strip all through the championship, culminating in victory over Bride Rovers.

The following year, the black continued to do the trick but, after defeat in the final against Newtownshandrum, the traditional jerseys were reinstated as first choice. However, the black shorts have remained the default for the senior team since then.

Sarsfields underage players Luke, Ethan and Isabelle O'Brien with their father Finbarr, coaching officer, (left); Tadhg Murphy, club chairman, and Daniel Kearney, senior club captain. Picture Denis Minihane.
Sarsfields underage players Luke, Ethan and Isabelle O'Brien with their father Finbarr, coaching officer, (left); Tadhg Murphy, club chairman, and Daniel Kearney, senior club captain. Picture Denis Minihane.

After a long association with O’Neills, Sars will be clad in McKeever gear for the 2021 championship. The first outing in McKeever kit came in last year’s quarter-final loss to neighbours Erin’s Own — the Armagh firm moving away from black as a second option bu providing a new change shirt that reversed that normal look.

Regardless of the colour of the jerseys, one constant apart from the crest is the O’Connell name on the front, with the transport group having been generous sponsors of the club for more than two decades.

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