Cork GAA Jersey Wars: Clonakilty v Mallow

From now until August 28, your votes will narrow down 32 contenders to crown a winner
Cork GAA Jersey Wars: Clonakilty v Mallow

Cork GAA Jersey Wars: David Lowney, Clonakilty, and Cormac Murphy, Mallow.

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 12 versus 21, which is Clonakilty-Mallow, 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:


While the green and red colours of Clonakilty achieved renown with the claiming of nine county senior football titles between 19369 and 2009, the club wore various different combinations before settling on the Mayo-like strip sometime in the late 1910s.

Tom Lyons’ club history gives a comprehensive record of the different colours used. An early match report notes that “green and gold uniforms” were seen, with an 1892 picture showing green jerseys with gold sleeves from shoulder to cuffs.

Then, the match report for the 1893 West Cork final against Kinsale in Bandon say that “the Clonakilty men, in a uniform of green, were all fine, strapping fellows,” and later calls them “the Emeralds” – so it would appear that the gold part was severely reduced, perhaps just to the collar.

It is thought that the green and gold came from the fact that supporters of William O’Brien’s United Ireland League were in powerful positions in the club at the time, but there was also a faction that favoured John Redmond’s Irish National League, who used green and white.

It is likely that avoiding dissent between the two groups was the main reason behind a switch to blue and white hoops between 1904 and 1907 before the Redmondites got the upper hand and introduced a white jersey with a green sash. This style was still in place when the club won the Railway Shield in 1914, but of course, the 1916 Rising changed the political landscape.

There were stormy meetings regarding club colours and it is said that Jack Cullinane, the club’s delegate to Cork County Board, was the man who suggested green and red as a compromise.

The colours became known far and wide as Clon became established as one of the top clubs in the county, reaching six county finals in the 1930s before finally breaking through to go all the way in 1939.

With the glass ceiling broken, a three-in-a-row was achieved from 1942-44 before back-to-back titles in 1946 and 1947. While the rate of success slowed down, the club continued to be periodical contestants in the county final and, one occasion, the Clon appeared in the showpiece despite Clon’s absence. When the Carbery divisional side took on UCC in 1964, there was a dispute between members from O’Donovan Rossa of Skibbereen and the Dunmanway element from Dohenys, so once again the green and red was used as a comprehensive, though it wasn’t a lucky charm as the Students triumphed.

Clonakilty's Conrad Murphy chased by Nemo Rangers' Derek Kavanagh. Picture: Richard Mills.
Clonakilty's Conrad Murphy chased by Nemo Rangers' Derek Kavanagh. Picture: Richard Mills.

Clon have worn O’Neills jerseys for most of the modern era, though they were in kit made by Connolly for the 1996 SFC win and had a Kukri strip in the md-2010s before a return to O’Neills. When a change is required, they wear a white jersey with a green hoop. Clonakilty Black Pudding have been long-term shirt sponsors.


Last month, Mallow stalwart Cian O’Riordan, who retired after the recent Bons Secours Hospital Cork Senior A Football Championship final, shared a letter on Twitter.

Honoured that the club’s committee had voted to bestow him with life membership, he wrote: “It’s a feeling I don’t think I will ever get over, putting on that Mallow jersey.” In O’Riordan’s career and lifetime, that jersey has been red and yellow and that has been the case ever since the club was founded in 1887.

A florid piece in the Tralee Liberator of August 14, 1934 stated: “If one walked into the GAA club-rooms today, one would see hanging on a line red and yellow jerseys of the victors of many a hard-fought hurling contest.” 

At that stage, Mallow were an established senior hurling club following the 1923 intermediate championship win and they reached the senior semi-finals in 1926 before making the 1928 final, losing out to Éire Óg, though that year’s win over Blackrock was such a notable event that it inspired a song, When Mallow Beat Blackrock. 

The semis were reached again in 1930, losing to Glen Rovers, and when the clubs were paired together in the 1931 first round, the night before the game the Mallow secretary received a telegram purporting to be from Cork County Board informing him that the game was off – the telegram was a hoax and the misinformation may have contributed to a 9-4 to 2-0 loss. They regraded in 1937 and while they won the intermediate again in 1959, their three-year senior stint was without success and dropped down again. It was a similar tale following the 1972 intermediate win, staying senior for five years but again deciding to regrade.

While the club reached the intermediate football final in 1924, they would have to wait until 1992 – three years after another final loss – to make it to the top flight. The qualified for the semi-finals in 2004 but just two years later were relegated after a four-team round-robin. There was an immediate return, winning the premier intermediate in 2007, only to experience the drop again in 2009.

Mallow footballer Cian O'Riordan. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Mallow footballer Cian O'Riordan. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

After winning the second tier championship again in 2017, Mallow were unlucky to be outside the top 12 ranks when the restructuring occurred at the end of 2019, but hopes will be high that they can make an assault on the senior A again this year.

Mallow share their colours with Éire Óg, who beat them in the 2020 senior A final in June, and there is a good reason for the similarity.

In the early 1950s, Mallow ordered a set of jerseys from Denis Desmond, a draper in the town, but when they were not collected, Ovens native Desmond offered them to his home club at a reduced price.

They gladly accepted and have had the colours since. The final meeting in Páirc Uí Chaoimh was the clubs’ second meeting of that championship, with Mallow having won the group-phase game last autumn. Éire Óg had worn a yellow alternative set that day and so Mallow obliged by doing the same for the final. 

Currently, the club opt not to have a shirt sponsor.

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