Cork GAA Jersey Wars: Youghal v St Finbarr's

Your votes will decide which club geansaí goes into the semi-finals
Cork GAA Jersey Wars: Youghal v St Finbarr's

Youghal's Vincent Murray and St Finbarr's Robert O'Mahony in action in 2005. Picture: Cillian Kelly

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 and we're now down to the last eight. 

Full details of the competition are here.

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


THE Youghal colours are unique, and for good reason.

The orangey-gold elements – usually, but not always, a hoop – separate them from the plain maroon of the likes of Bishopstown, Argideen Rangers and Rockchapel and, while there might be similarities to the red and yellow combinations of Mallow and Éire Óg, the East Cork side’s outfit has a darker hue.

The original club jerseys were a knitted maroon jumper with a yellow stripe and these were mostly manufactured by players’ mothers, wives or girlfriends. When the time came to purchase a proper set of tops, the club’s money was short and so a fundraising terrier-coursing event was held in Copperalley in 1924. The money raised enabled the club to buy a full set but the colours chosen were green and gold.

However, that patriotic colour-combination is a popular one across the county and country while the Imokilly division also has the likes of Aghada, Killeagh (plain green) and Fr O’Neills (green and red). So it was that a decision was taken in the 1960s to revert to the maroon and gold to avoid clashing with other local clubs. It is believed that the inspiration for the ‘new old’ colours were those of Youghal CBS, though the decision was not a unanimous one at the time.

However, the switch has stood the test of time and Youghal won county intermediate hurling titles in 1969, 1988 and 1993 and the premier intermediate in 2013 while wearing maroon and gold as well as the intermediate football title in 2000.

Youghal forward Bill Cooper tackled by Na Piarsaigh defender John Gardiner. Picture: Des Barry.
Youghal forward Bill Cooper tackled by Na Piarsaigh defender John Gardiner. Picture: Des Barry.

The club have played at a number of venues in the parish. The then Blackwater Rangers played their first competitive Gaelic football match against Waterford outfit Clashmore/Piltown/Kinsalebeg at Bill Farrell’s Field at Frogmore.

In 1894, the club then transferred to Jimmy Lynch’s, around the time it was decided to become affiliated with the GAA, adopting the name Youghal Gaelic Athletic Cycling Association.

In 1899, when the once-famous Youghal Cricket Club became defunct, GAA club officials saw the potential of the grounds at Copperally. After renting there for many years, negotiations began for its purchase in 1966 and, after much work, the grounds were opened by the then-president of Ireland, Erskine Childers, in 1974. Then, in 1985, the club bought its current headquarters at Magniers Hill, adjacent to St Raphael’s Hospital, from the Southern Health Board. This land was bought for IR£75,000, a sum collected inside three years, and the premises has been developed further over the years, giving the club a fine home to call its own.

The current jersey design is a durable one, first produced by manufacturers O’Neills in the mid-2000s, albeit in a much baggier fit.

The name of Brookes SuperValu adorns the front while there are fine gold pinstripes in addition to the hoop around the midriff.


ONE of the most iconic jerseys in Cork GAA is the blue of St Finbarr’s, with the club’s supporters tending to wax lyrical in French with their, “Allez les bleus” chant.

The origins of the choice? The story on the club’s website, which is acknowledged as being unverified, comes from a letter written by Johnny O’Herlihy to Con Neenan in the 1970s.

Johnny had played with the Fr O’Leary Hall hurling team but transferred to the Barrs in 1910 and his father Patrick had played for the club in 1870s. Back then, players often competed in their work clothes, with sashes or caps used for identification. Patrick’s wife happened to be walking through Paddy’s Market on North Main St one Saturday and bought a blue jersey for him for the price of one shilling and sixpence. The following day, he wore it to Cuffe’s Field near the Lough where a decision was being made as to the club’s colours and they were so taken with his blue hue that it was adopted.

Seán Beecher’s book ‘The Blues’ notes that there has also been a suggestion that because the Lough parish church is called The Church of the Immaculate Conception, blue was chosen because blue is always associated with Our Lady.

Of course, the Barrs also played an indirect role in Cork wearing red as, in 1919, when the Fr O’Leary team merged with the Togher outfit, their old red tops were donated to the county board in the wake of their original set – blue and saffron – being confiscated or destroyed by British troops, who had raided the board offices on Cook St.

The Barrs’ blue, trimmed with gold, has enjoyed lots of success, with the club the only one in Ireland to have won All-Ireland senior club hurling and football titles. There is one outfit distinction between the two codes, though – white shorts are favoured in hurling while all-blue has prevailed in football since the 1979 county final win over Castlehaven. Previously, football jerseys had a harp whereas hurling ones did not.

For the most recent All-Ireland club title, the 1987 football win, the Barrs were up against Roscommon’s Clann na nGael, who also play in blue and gold and a white set of jerseys was worn. However, after the victory in Croke Park, team captain John Meyler donned a traditional top for the presentation of the cup.

Barrs talisman Ian Maguire.
Barrs talisman Ian Maguire.

Nowadays, gold jerseys are the second choice – in a modern style compared to the first-choice jersey, which remains unsullied by any superfluous designs. Across the chest is the club name in Irish along with the harp – a sponsor’s name has never appeared on the jerseys in a top-class game, though Ryan’s SuperValu in Togher do enjoy a close relationship with the Barrs and sponsored the off-field gear when the 32-year wait for an SFC title was ended in 2018.

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