Minor and U21 wins backboned St Finbarr's senior success

A succession of Rebel Óg underage victories created the mentality needed to bring the Andy Scannell Cup back to Togher
Minor and U21 wins backboned St Finbarr's senior success

Ballincollig's Peter O'Neill and St Finbarr's Ian Maguire go high for the ball during the Rebel Og Premier 1 minor clash in 2012. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

THE AIB Munster Club Championship is the next arena for St Finbarr’s minor crop of 2010 to conquer.

Underage success has backboned the Barrs’ re-emergence as a force at senior level, securing the Andy Scannell Cup in 2018 and after a narrow victory over Clonakilty at Páirc Uí Chaoimh recently.

The Blues were provincial champions on four occasions, but the last time was all the way back in 1986. Their last outing in the Munster club championship was four years ago, a 5-20 to 1-11 drubbing from Dr Crokes in Killarney.

The Cork champions are on the other side of the draw to the Kerry winners on this occasion, one win away from the final.

The core group who overcame Clonakilty will be entering the provincial competition as serial and experienced winners, a habit which they developed underage. At minor and U21 they completed a near clean sweep of domestic honours in Cork.

In 2010, the Barrs beat Douglas in the minor decider, their third title in four years. Six players who started that game in CIT also started the 2021 senior final: Ian Maguire, Enda Dennehy, Eoghan Finn, Jamie Burns, Alan O’Connor, and Sam Ryan.

The Barrs added another two minor titles to their haul in 2012 and 2015 with squads featuring Steven Sherlock, Brian Hayes, and Colm Scully – all senior starters now.

Steven Sherlock battles Sean O'Brien, Nemo Rangers, at minor. Picture. Jim Coughlan.
Steven Sherlock battles Sean O'Brien, Nemo Rangers, at minor. Picture. Jim Coughlan.

The first signs that these players were filtering through was in 2014 when the Barrs defeated Ballinascarthy in the U21 B Football Championship. Two years later, the club were crowned Cork U21 football champions after they beat Ilen Rovers 1-12 to 0-7 at Páirc Uí Rinn.

In 2017 the core of these minor and U21 winning teams combined to reach the final of the Cork Senior Football Championship, the club’s first in seven years at that juncture. The Barrs came up short on that occasion with Nemo Rangers beating them in a replay.

The bridge to senior success was crossed in 2018 when the Barrs defeated Duhallow 3-14 to 2-14, a first county since 1985 and it was done with a team who had grown up together winning. Another medal was added to the squad’s collection in 2019 when they defeated Cill na Martra to win the Kelleher Shield. 

Just two trophies are missing from this crop of players’ roll of honour: a provincial title and an All-Ireland championship. When the Barrs campaign gets underway later this month, their experience in finals and their personal histories will go a long way to pushing them towards ending a long provincial drought.

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