With seven county senior hurling titles, Midleton sit fourth in the Cork roll of honour, behind the city old firm of Blackrock, St Finbarr’s and Glen Rovers.
The first two wins were achieved in 1914 and 1916, but a 67-year hiatus had to be endured before the next victory came in 1983, a win which led to John Fenton captaining Cork to the centenary All-Ireland the following year.
That led to two more in the 1980s as back-to-back wins followed in 1986 and ’87 – the latter followed by Munster and All-Ireland glory, with Newtownshandrum the only Cork club to all the way since then – but the Barrs, the Glen and Na Piarsaigh were all victorious as the 1980s gave way to the 1990s and the city looked to have re-asserted its supremacy.
In 1991, though, the Magpies made it back to the county final, where they met the Glen – as they will do on Sunday afternoon, with the east Cork club hoping for a repeat of that decider 30 years ago.
While the scoreline tells us that Midleton were triumphant by nine points, it was only in the final seven minutes that they really began to pull away – but at the same time, two points was the lowest the Glen narrowed the gap to in the second half.
It was a day when defences were on top, as evidenced by the fact that Glen wing-back Kieran McGuckin won man of the match for his performance, with his brother Christy at corner-back also shining.
At the other end, Pat Hartnett was outstanding at centre-back for Midleton, while inside him the full-back line of Michael Boylan, Denis Mulcahy and Sean O’Brien held the Glen’s full-forward division of Tomas Mulcahy, John Fitzgibbon and Johnny Buckley scoreless.
In fact, only one of the Glen’s starting forwards, Christy Ring, would score, and only one other point of their final tally came from play. The goal came in the sixth minute, when, with John Boylan having given Midleton an early lead, Ring put the Glen in front after he shook off Pat Hartnett’s attentions and sent an acutely angled low shot into the corner of the net.
Playing against the breeze, it was the tonic the Glen needed, but with John Fenton and John Hartnett gaining supremacy in midfield for Midleton, they powered on to lead 0-8 to 1-2 at half-time.
At the start of the second half, with both defences continuing to shine, the game, played in front of a crowd of 18,300, seemed to be turning into a free-taking contest between Fenton – who scored one from over 100 metres – and Ger Riordan, who accounted for six of the Glen’s total.
The relocation of Ger Fitzgerald back to the Midleton half-forward line greatly aided them though and it proved to be the catalyst for them to finally pull away from their opponents.
Points from Fenton, Kevin Hennessy and Fitzgerald – three of the six All-Ireland-medal winners on the Midleton team – finally gave them some breathing space before sub Cormac Quirke produced a cracking finish for the clinching goal to round off a nine-point victory.
At the time, it would probably have been hard to believe that Midleton would not be on the winner’s rostrum for another 22 years and harder still to conceive that the Glen would not add a 26th title until 2015.
One of them will be bridging a shorter gap this Sunday.