Cork GAA Jersey Wars: Éire Óg v Kanturk

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

Aidan Walsh, Kanturk, battles with Daniel Goulding, Éire Óg, in 2012. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

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 14 versus 19, which is Éire Óg-Kanturk, 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:

ÉIRE ÓG

A club by the name of Bride Valley competed against Inniscarra in a Mid-Cork championship game in Coachford in April 1891, meaning that codified Gaelic games have been present in the parish of Ovens for 120 years.

Divisional boards were established in the mid-1920s and Bride Valley, who wore blue jerseys with red cuffs, were the winners of the first two Muskerry junior titles in 1925 and 1926 before combining with Cloughduv to form Éire Óg, an outfit capable of competing at senior level.

In 1928, the new entity defeated Mallow in the county senior hurling final at the Athletic Grounds, but eight years later the merger was reversed. However, the team composed of the former Bride Valley players kept the Éire Óg name, now wearing mainly red jerseys with blue accents.

Those colours remained until the mid-1950s when the red and yellow we know today came to be the club’s identity, albeit in fortuitous circumstances. While the set of jerseys the club possessed falling into disrepair, funds to purchase a new set were low but Kilcrea native Denis Desmond – grand-uncle of current hurling goalkeeper Dylan Desmond – was a draper in Mallow and the local club had yet to collect or pay for the red and yellow set that they had ordered. Desmond offered the jerseys to his home club at half-price and so the tradition was born.

Éire Óg players celebrate the 2020 Bons Secours Cork SAFC final win over Mallow. Picture: Ger Bonus
Éire Óg players celebrate the 2020 Bons Secours Cork SAFC final win over Mallow. Picture: Ger Bonus

County junior hurling titles followed in 1962 and 1977, with intermediate glory coming just two years later, against Mallow – both clubs wore their first-choice kits, with Éire Óg’s yellow band around the chest providing differentiation.

They played at senior for a few years before regrading at the end of 1982 and, while the intermediate title was claimed again in 1985, on that occasion they opted not to move up to senior level.

In the interim, football has become stronger in the club, with the Muskerry and county junior wins of 2008 setting the train in motion. The intermediate championship followed in 2014, having lost the final in 2012, and then they came out on top in the premier intermediate grade in 2019.

Normally, such a win would have meant promotion to the top tier but, as the championships were restructured ahead of 2020, Éire Óg would compete in the senior A grade. Put in the same group with Mallow, Éire Óg wore yellow when the clubs met – a white change jersey had been used earlier in the 2010s – and while Mallow won that, Éire Óg still qualified for the knockout stage and the two clubs progressed to the final.

Due to Covid-19, there would be a long wait for that to be played, with the match eventually taking place in June 2021. On this occasion, Mallow changed to yellow and the Éire Óg’s first-choice kit served them well as they made it to the premier senior grade.

The club’s jersey sponsors are Blackwater Motors Volkswagen.

KANTURK

LOCAL legend holds that the last wild boar in Ireland was slain at the place where Kanturk now stands the Irish name for the two, Ceann Toirc, literally means “the boar’s head”.

The GAA club’s crest features a boar on a green and white background and those colours have been used since the club’s inception in 1882. When Kanturk reached the Cork SFC final in 1897, losing to Dohenys after a replay, the jerseys were green and white hoops, the same style used by Valley Rovers nowadays, but in the early part of the 20th century a mainly green shirt with a white band around the middle, like Macroom or Aghabullogue, was favoured. This was the look for the 1949 county junior hurling final defeat to Bandon and again 20 years later when Mayfield were beaten in the decider.

As the new millennium began, Kanturk were junior A in both codes but the 2003 divisional hurling win led to them being part of the revamped county intermediate hurling championship after the introduction of the new premier intermediate grade.

It was the second year in a row that Kanturk had won the Duhallow junior hurling title and in the first of those finals, in 2002, mainly green jerseys had been worn against Meelin, who were in their usual Kerry style of green with a gold hoop.

However, by the time the county junior football title followed in 2011, a new jersey — white with green hoop, introduced as a change kit — had overtaken the green as the first-choice option.

By accident or design, this coincided with a golden age for the club. After winning the 2011 JAFC, wearing white against Mitchelstown, the club won the intermediate hurling in 2013, beating Éire Óg in the final, while there was as double achieved in 2017 — intermediate football, beating Mitchelstown in the final again, and premier intermediate hurling, where Mallow were seen off.

That latter run went all the way to Croke Park, with the Munster championship followed by the All-Ireland as Ballyraggett of Kilkenny were overcome in the final in Croke Park in February 2018.

While they ascended to senior hurling, they only had two seasons at the top before the restructuring of the championship, unable to amass sufficient points to avoid being placed in the new senior A grade. In the delayed 2020 championships, the football team reached the final of the premier intermediate, but that clash against Duhallow rivals Knocknagree wouldn’t take place until August 2021.

Unfortunately for Kanturk, they missed out on becoming dual senior as they lost out — wearing new green jerseys against the white and blue of their neighbours.

On that jersey and the predominantly white one, the name of Twohig’s SuperValu proudly stands out as main club sponsors.

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