Star-studded St Finbarr's did the damage early in 1985 county final against Clon

The Barrs team featured iconic GAA figures Jimmy Barry-Murphy, John Meyler, Dave Barry, John Kerins and more
Star-studded St Finbarr's did the damage early in 1985 county final against Clon

Clonakilty forward Eoin O'Mahony wins the ball from John Meyler in the 1985 Cork SFC final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

TOMORROW at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, St Finbarr’s and Clonakilty will battle it out for the Bons Secours Hospital Cork Premier SFC title and, barring a draw, one of them will move to ten titles.

That would meant joint-third place on the roll of honour along with UCC and Macroom, with Lees (12 championships, the last in 1955) and Nemo Rangers (22 wins) the only sides with more.

It will the third successive time that the clubs have met in a final with the same number of titles under their belts. Their last final clash, in 2009 – revisited by Mark Woods – came with both on eight. Clon won that and it took until 2018 for the Barrs to join them again.

Clon’s first seven wins, between 1939 and 1952, came before St Finbarr’s got off the mark at all, but the Togher side quickly built momentum after their maiden victory in 1956 and a purple patch in the late 1970s and early 1980s brought them to seven by 1982.

By that stage, Clon were 14 years without a final appearance but in 1983 they made it back to the decider, losing to Nemo Rangers. In 1984, their place was runners-up was taken by the Barrs, who lost out to Imokilly, and then in 1985 both clubs made it through to the final.

The Barrs had beaten St Nick’s, UCC, Castlehaven after a replay and Duhallow, while Clon had seen off Beara, Muskerry, Nemo and Bishopstown. 

A crowd of 9,076 descended on Páirc Uí Chaoimh for the mid-September clash.

As Michael Ellard put it in his match report, the Barrs’ victory was a “mission of atonement”. He wrote: “Last year, the Blues were plunged into mourning when Imokilly dealt their pride a savage blow. But the shock and sorry vanished in the full glow of yesterday’s joyous triumph.”

The Barr laid the foundations for victory in the first half with a superb display – in fact, the Togher side would not score after half-time but they had assembled enough of a lead to ensure that Clon had too much of a mountain to climb.

With Christy Ryan dominant at midfield, the Barrs had points from Dave Barry, Brendan Searles and Michael Slocum as they moved five points clear by the end of the first quarter, with man of the match Gene Desmond and Mick Carey outstanding in defence for the city side.

The victorious St Finbarr's team
The victorious St Finbarr's team

When Jimmy Barry-Murphy goaled in the 21st minute, they were nine points clear and at half-time it was 1-10 to 0-3, Eoin O’Mahony doing his best to carry the Clon attacking threat. He landed a 45 on the resumption and their half-back line of Michael O’Donovan, Aidan Scally and Billy Crowley came to the fore in the second half while Marcus De Long was unlucky with two goal opportunities.

Dave McCarthy had gained the upper hand at midfield and the Barrs were unable to make as much attacking headway as they had in the first half, but John Meyler was totemic in the Barrs defence in ensuring that Clon were not able to fully erode the deficit.

By the 56th minute, Clon had come within four points, 1-10 to 0-9, and that was the way it finished, the Barrs making it four titles in seven years. Nobody could have imagined that there would be a 33-year wait for their next encounter with the Andy Scannell Cup.

Scorers for St Finbarr’s: D Barry 0-5 (0-3 f), J Barry-Murphy 1-1, C Ryan 0-2, M Slocum, B Searles 0-1 each.

Clonakilty: E O’Mahony 0-7 (0-5 f, 0-1 45), M De Long 0-2.

ST FINBARR’S: J Kerins; J Cremin, J Meyler, K Scanlan; M Carey, E Desmond, D Philpott; P Hayes, C Ryan; B Searles, D Barry, M Slocum; J Barry-Murphy, D O’Mahony, T Leahy. 

Subs: K McCarthy for Searles, R Kenny for Hayes.

CLONAKILTY: M Downey; S Calanan, M O’Neill, K Gallagher; M O’Donovan, A Scally, B Crowley; D Walsh, D McCarthy; R O’Donovan, E Scally, J O’Donovan; T Scally, E O’Mahony, M De Long. 

Subs: A Bluett for R O’Donovan (injured), F O’Regan for T Scally.

Referee: F Murphy (St Michael’s).

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