Cork GAA Jersey Wars: Erin's Own v Ilen Rovers

From now until August 28, your votes will narrow down 32 contenders to crown a winner
Cork GAA Jersey Wars: Erin's Own v Ilen Rovers

Jersey Wars: Ilen Rovers' Kevin O'Sullivan and Erin's Own's Brian Corcoran.

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 15 versus 18, which is Douglas-Kiskeam, 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:

ERIN'S OWN

WHILE green would seem to be the colour most commonly appearing in club GAA jerseys, red and blue – paired with white or gold, usually – are not at all unusual. However, the two primary colours together are quite rare.

In Cork, Dripsey – founded in 2005 – have a mainly red jersey with blue trim and, apart from that, Erin’s Own are the only other club to pair those shades.

Back in the 19th century, Caherlag competed in ‘goaling’, a forerunner to hurling, and the battle-cry of their supporters acknowledged the colours used: “Come on Caherlag/ And don’t be in dread/ For we are the men/ In green and red.”

By the time the first Cork county championship draws were made in 1887, there were two clubs in the parish of Glounthaune, Knockraha and Little Island, and this local rivalry persisted until the early 1960s, though in the intervening period different teams such as Brooklodge, St Patrick’s and Leeside had sporadically competed.

In 1963, an U14 team, under the Little Island name but including players from all of the parish, won the East Cork title and that was the catalyst for discussions to take place regarding a merger, led by the parish priest, Canon McSwiney.

October 1964 saw the committees of the two clubs decide to join forces, with Rogha Éireann, or Erin’s Own, chosen as the name ahead of the other option, Glenmore.

The original colours of the new entity were white jerseys with green collars and cuffs but after a few years the dye in them ran and there was no money for new ones so the blue and red set used by Knockraha was called upon again and became the first choice.

Success was slow arriving at first but the 1970s was a fruitful period for the club as the Imokilly junior A hurling title was claimed in 1973, 1975, 1977 and 1979, reaching the county final in 1977. The decision was taken to go intermediate for 1980 and that championship was won in 1984 – after which they opted not to move to senior – and again in 1987, when the step to the top grade was taken.

County senior glory was achieved in 1982, wearing Henkel-sponsored adidas jerseys, while there was a two-in-a-row in 2006 and 2007. By that stage, Michael O’Connor Motor Factors was the name on the chest and it’s a relationship which has endured to the present day, albeit with the business’s new ‘Mickio’s’ logo now present.

Erin's Own's Eoghan Murphy in the club's new jerseys against Blackrock in 2020. Picture: Howard Crowdy
Erin's Own's Eoghan Murphy in the club's new jerseys against Blackrock in 2020. Picture: Howard Crowdy

Having had the same design for more than a decade, featuring a red chevron on the upper half of the torso and a hoop lower down, a more traditional look was restored in 2020. When colour-clashes occur against the likes of neighbours Sarsfields and Carrigtwohill or St Finbarr’s, red jerseys with blue trim are called upon.

ILEN ROVERS

ILEN Rovers was founded 1973, a coming together of players from the parishes of Aughadown and Rath & the Islands. Both bound the estuary of the River Ilen, so it was logical that the river should provide the name for the new entity. Previously, the parishes had sought to enter independent teams but ensuring sufficient human resources was always an impediment.

In that first year, the club only fielded underage sides – U14, U16 and minor – with the latter claiming the West Cork B title, prompting the decision to expand to U21 and junior B level for 1974. 

While the U21 side won a West Cork B championship in 1976, after two successive final defeats, it took until 1983 for the club to win any junior B championship game but, with that duck broken, they won the Carbery title and ascended to junior A level.

After four years there, they dropped back to junior B, winning West Cork and making it to the county final, losing out to Abbey Rovers after a replay.

The modern success story of the club can be traced back to the 1995 county minor B football win, which was followed by a first Carbery junior A title in 1996. Then, three more came in 1999, 2000 and 2001, losing the 1999 county final to Youghal before overcoming Kinsale in the 2001 decider, paving the way to compete at intermediate level.

After just two years there, they were champions, beating Carrigaline in the final, and going on to claim Munster and All-Ireland honours.

While the first few years at senior level were used to find their feet, the fourth – 2007 – was to be a memorable campaign. Though beaten by reigning champions Nemo Rangers in the first round, they beat Douglas, CIT, Dohenys and Duhallow to make it to the county final, where Nemo – seeking a three-in-a-row – would provide the opposition again. While Ilen led in the second half of that game, they were overhauled by Nemo, who had to earn a 0-12 to 0-9 victory. The next year, Ilen made it back to the semi-finals, losing out to Douglas.

More than a decade on, Ilen remain in the top grade of Cork football, now known as premier senior, while the club won their first and second West Cork U21 A titles, in 2009 and 2016, and there has been further success at underage levels.

Dan Mac Eoin on the ball for Ilen Rovers. Picture: Denis Boyle
Dan Mac Eoin on the ball for Ilen Rovers. Picture: Denis Boyle

With a difficulty in maintaining numbers to compete in hurling, Ilen merged with neighbours O’Donovan Rossa, Tadhg Mac Cárthaigh and Kilmacabea to form St Patrick’s HC in 2013.

The club’s colours have been white and green since the beginning, with O’Neills kits worn until recent years, when Masita took over. Ballydehob-based Skeaghanore Duck Farm are the current shirt sponsors.

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