Shared names a common thread in Cork GAA circles

Both Castlehaven and Nemo Rangers had a Kevin O'Donovan on the pitch in Sunday's final
Shared names a common thread in Cork GAA circles

Nemo Rangers' Kevin O'Donovan in action against Jack Cahalane of Castlehaven in Sunday's Bons Secours Hospital Cork Premier SFC final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

With two minutes of normal time to go in Sunday’s 2020 Bons Secours County Premier SFC final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Castlehaven made a substitution.

Unfortunately for them, Kevin O’Donovan – on for Cathal Maguire – couldn’t come up with a game-saving intervention, but his arrival did mean that the game finished with two Kevin O’Donovans on the pitch, one for each side.

Of course, there was also one in the stand, the county board secretary/CEO – the ideal scenario would have been for the namesake players to be their teams’ captains and the administrator presenting the Andy Scannell Cup. As an aside, it would have been a nice touch if the last county chairperson, Tracey Kennedy, had been offered the chance to present the trophy as it officially marked the end of the 2020 season – in an ordinary world, she would have been doing so last October.

The Haven team featured attacker Conor O’Driscoll (a former Ireland underage soccer player) and their sub goalkeeper was Colm O’Driscoll – both of those names have appeared in the Cork senior football panel over the past decade, also West Cork men, from Tadhg Mac Cárthaigh and Ilen Rovers respectively.

Nemo weren’t short of their own examples of players to share their names with other top players of the past. It’s only in the last few years that defender Alan Cronin has been able to drop the ‘Junior’ suffix, having come into the team when the older attacker going by that name was still around, while corner-back Briain Murphy follows a strong lineage that shows that some names are destined to play in a particular spot.

The Cork panellist goes by the Irish version of Brian so we are cheating somewhat, but the evidence is otherwise substantial. The original Nemo Brian Murphy was a byword for defensive excellence, winning four All-Irelands – three hurling and one football – and two All-Stars in each code, all at corner-back. He wasn’t even the first Brian Murphy to play at corner-back for Cork, though.

In the late 1960s, Brian Murphy from Crosshaven did so, having made his debut in goal in 1965. Maybe it was the spelling of the name that meant Bishopstown’s Bryan Murphy – a dual Cork minor in 1985 – didn’t push on to senior level with the county or maybe it was the fact that he wasn’t a corner-back, but instead he ended up with Kildare, winning Leinster SFC medals in 1998 and 2000.

By that stage, Clonakilty’s Brian Murphy had played corner-back for the Cork football team, captaining the side in 1997, while the 2000s would see the Bride Rovers version claim two All-Ireland hurling medals and an All-Star.

The Rebels panel that Murphy featured on had two Kieran Murphys, one Sarsfields and one Erin’s Own, who were Cork minors together in 2000 and 2001 and who both went on to captain the county.

Further afield, one of our favourite GAA trick questions is regarding the two namesakes who played for different counties who won All-Stars in the same position 30 years apart, with the kicker being that it was Dermot Earley Senior and Junior.

A variation on that question, with an answer avoiding blood relatives and just a 15-year gap, involves the use of Irish – Antóin Ó Tuathail being the translation for Dublin’s Anton O’Toole and Derry’s Anthony Tohill. By the same token, Kerry’s All-Ireland-winning managers roll of honours includes Páidí Ó Sé and Pat O’Shea.

Similarly, in 1998 and 2000, the All-Ireland senior finals in each code featured translational namesakes – Kilkenny’s John Power and Galway’s Seán Óg de Paor. Incidentally, there has been another John Power on the Cats side since, while both Tommy Walshes to have featured for Brian Cody’s side hail from the same club, Tullaroan.

A curious Kilkenny namesake was John Dooley, who had a short inter-county career but it did encompass the 1998 Leinster final against Offaly, who had the more famous Johnny Dooley. Later, the Offaly panel would include Joe Bergin for a decade and a half, unrelated to the Offaly footballer by the same name.

A modern example of the same name on two county squads is made better by the fact that the Evan Comerfords from Dublin and Tipperary both play in goal.

Back in February of last year, when Covid-19 had yet to impact upon on, Dublin played Donegal in the football league and their Evan Comerford made a fine save, later shared online shared by Eir Sport, who were broadcasting the clash.

Like any proud Irish Manny, Anna Comerford commented underneath, “Well done Evan, some save.” All good, except Anna is the mother of the Tipperary goalkeeper.

The Premier County native didn’t miss the opportunity to shine the light on the error: “Thanks Ma. Pity you have the wrong Evan, though! #hasntaclue #mothersoffacebook”

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