Echo 130: Seven of the greatest Cork hurling wins as seen through the eyes of The Echo

Denis Hurley picks through the most thrilling Cork hurling matches from The Echo archives as we mark 130 years of the paper
Echo 130: Seven of the greatest Cork hurling wins as seen through the eyes of The Echo

Cork manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy shows off the Liam MacCarthy Cup to Cork supporters on Hill 16 following the All-Ireland SHC final in 1999. Picture: David Maher/Sportsfile

Cork 0-13 Kilkenny 0-12

LOOKING back at it now, Cork’s All-Ireland senior hurling victory of 1999 seems almost pre-ordained.

It looks simple: Jimmy Barry-Murphy, one of the county’s greatest stars, throwing caution to the wind by cobbling together a team of youngsters that came good, proving the adage that Rebel hurlers were like mushrooms, coming up overnight.

The truth, of course, is not exactly that simple. In fact, a lot of the progress made in 1998 by running Clare close looked to have been lost as Tipperary gave Barry-Murphy’s side two trimmings in challenge matches as championship approached.

There was something wrong, so something had to be done. Barry-Murphy called in team captain Mark Landers, Brian Corcoran, and Fergal Ryan in a bid to find a way forward.

“He said straightaway, ‘Lads, I think I’m the issue here. I can’t seem to get a response from the team’,” recounted Landers in Michael Moynihan’s book Blood Brothers.

“At the back of my mind for a fleeting moment I thought he might be right, but then immediately I thought, here’s a guy who’s open and honest, saying things are going bad.

“He’s blaming himself and looking for a solution. That’s a very honourable thing to do. He said he could have a manager in place within 24 hours.

“At that moment I said, ‘No, Jim, you’re not the problem. We’re probably not as focused as we should be. The training should maybe be stepped up a little, but we’re not going to let the ship sink at this stage. We can turn it around.’”

The Cork side that took to the field for the Munster semi-final against Waterford featured six debutants and nine under the age of 22, backed up by the All-Ireland U21 victories of 1997 and 1998. The Déise were seen off and then Clare – who had eliminated Cork in 1995, 1997, and 1998 – were beaten in the Munster final in Thurles. It was Cork’s first provincial title since 1992.

A win over reigning All-Ireland champions Offaly in a pulsating semi-final set up a clash with Kilkenny in the final. Jack Lynch always used to say that the Cats won the classic when the counties met and, thankfully for Cork, September 12, 1999 was a wet day that called for dogged battling.

After conceding one goal against Waterford, Cork had kept clean sheets since and the defence was on top on a day for backs. The half-time score was 0-5 to 0-4 in favour of Kilkenny as the sides struggled to find their ranges but Cork half-time sub Alan Browne marked his arrival with an equaliser on the resumption.

While Charlie Carter, Denis Byrne, and Andy Comerford were on target as Kilkenny moved four clear by the three-quarter stage, Cork never wilted. Timmy McCarthy had a stormer after moving to midfield while another sub, Kevin Murray, and Seánie McGrath impacted well as Cork drew level by the 62nd minute.

Cork's Timmy McCarthy races clear of Kilkenny's Peter Barry, at Croke Park in 1999. Picture: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE
Cork's Timmy McCarthy races clear of Kilkenny's Peter Barry, at Croke Park in 1999. Picture: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

McCarthy and Joe Deane set up Ben O’Connor for the lead score and, with Brian Corcoran outstanding at centre-back, they were able to stay ahead for the remainder.

Scorers for Cork: T McCarthy, S McGrath, J Deane (0-2 f) 0-3 each, M Landers, A Browne, K Murray, B O’Connor 0-1 each.

Kilkenny: H Shefflin 0-5 (0-4f), A Comerford 0-3 (0-1 sideline), C Carter 0-2, J Power, D Byrne 0-1 each.

CORK: D Óg Cusack; F Ryan, D O’Sullivan, J Browne; W Sherlock, B Corcoran, S Óg Ó hAilpín; M O’Connell, M Landers; T McCarthy, F McCormack, N Ronan; S McGrath, J Deane, B O’Connor. Subs: A Brown for Ronan (half-time), K Murray for Landers (51).

KILKENNY: J McGarry; P Larkin, C Brennan, W O’Connor; M Kavanagh, P O’Neill, P Barry; A Comerford, D Byrne; DJ Carey, J Power, B McEvoy; K O’Shea, H Shefflin, C Carter. Subs: N Moloney for Power, PJ Delaney for Carter (both 51).

Referee: P O’Connor (Limerick).

1944: Four-midable

Cork 2-13 Dublin 1-3

TIMES were very different 78 years ago, but the timing of Cork’s historic fourth All-Ireland title in a row made for some very unusual bedfellows on the front page of the Evening Echo.

‘Brussels occupied by Allied troops’ was the main headline, along with ‘Lull in air attacks on Britain’ and ‘Battle on Warsaw front’.

The only picture on the front page was of the local heroes, though, with Cork captain Seán Condon being given a lucky horseshoe by a young boy as he led the team around Croke Park in the pre-match parade.

Under the heading, ‘New record — Cork’s All-Ireland hurling victory’, the coverage amounted to about a sixth of a column.

“Cork county hurling team achieved one of the greatest records in the history of the Gaelic Athletic Association when they beat Dublin at Croke Park yesterday, by 2 goals 13 points to 1 goal 2 points in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship final, and thus secured their fourth All-Ireland title in successive years — a feat achieved by no other county in senior hurling.

It also brings Cork’s total of hurling championships to 15, being three ahead of their nearest rivals, Tipperary and Kilkenny, with 12 each.

“The conditions underfoot militated at the outset against the Cork boys, but they soon began “to find their feet” and then proceeded to give as classical and spectacular a display of hurling as the most ardent lover of the game could have wished.

“During the entire game, there were very few frees (six to Cork and nine to Dublin) and this was all the more creditable to the teams because of the slippery nature of the pitch. Thus, the referee (Mr M Hennessy, Clare) had an easy and pleasant task.

“Close on a thousand of the big number of Cork supporters present travelled by a special train from Cork yesterday morning.

“Following the match, both Cork and Dublin teams were entertained at Clery’s Restaurant, where there was an attendance of some 400 people. Mr Séamus Gardiner, BSc, chairman of the Central Council, presided and the customary toasts were duly honoured.

“It was stated that arrangements have been made to give the Cork team a fitting reception when they return to Cork this evening. They will detrain at Blarney and arrive at Blackpool Bridge at about 8pm.”

Joe Kelly of Cork scoring one of this two goals against Dublin in the 1944 All-Ireland hurling final, with captain Seán Condon in the background.
Joe Kelly of Cork scoring one of this two goals against Dublin in the 1944 All-Ireland hurling final, with captain Seán Condon in the background.

A crowd of 26,896 produced gate receipts of £2,005 and Cork had the first six points of the game, helping them to an 0-8 to 0-2 half-time lead. A goal and a point from Joe Kelly on the restart put them firmly in control and, though Charlie Downes replied with a Dublin goal, there was never any likelihood of a fightback.

Kelly rounded off the scoring with another goal and a point to give Cork 14 points to spare as they created history. The following year, Jack Lynch would win an All-Ireland football medal before the hurling was regained in 1946, giving him a unique record of six medals on the trot.

The four-in-a-row feat in hurling would be matched by Kilkenny in 2009, but it has yet to be surpassed.

CORK: T Mulcahy; W Murphy, B Thornhill, DJ Buckley; P O’Donovan, C Murphy, A Lotty; J Lynch (0-3), C Cottrell (0-1); C Ring (0-1), S Condon (0-3, 0-2f), J Young; J Quirke (0-1), J Morrison (0-1), J Kelly (2-3).

Subs: P Healy for C Murphy.

DUBLIN: J Donegan; J O’Neill, M Butler, P McCormack; F White, C Flanagan, J Egan; M Hassett, H Gray; T Leahy (0-2), E Wade, J Byrne; P Maher, C Downes (1-0), M Ryan.

Sub: M Gill for Egan.

Referee: M Hennessy (Clare).

1984: Centenary success over Tipp

Cork 4-15 Tipperary 3-14

IN THE wake of the three-in-a-row from 1976-78, Cork’s dominance was eroded incrementally — they retained Munster in 1979 but had a 12-game unbeaten run in the championship brought to an end by Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final. Them, in 1980 and ’81, Limerick took over as the top dogs in Munster.

Cork came back in 1982 and ’83, but on each occasion lost out to Kilkenny in the All-Ireland final – the first time since 1904 and ’05 that the Rebels had lost successive deciders. The new year of 1984 brought extra motivation as the GAA celebrated its 100th birthday and Cork, now under the management of Justin McCarthy and Fr Michael O’Brien, won the open-draw format Centenary Cup, beating Laois in the final in Croke Park, before overcoming Laois in the Munster semi-final.

That set up an ‘old firm’ Munster final against a resurgent Tipperary – the first since 1970, with the period after the ’71 All-Ireland win proving to be a tough time for the Premier County.

Cork captain John Fenton with the Liam McCarthy Cup after beating Offaly in 1984 at Thurles. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland
Cork captain John Fenton with the Liam McCarthy Cup after beating Offaly in 1984 at Thurles. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland

However, in ’84, they had an additional carrot in the fact that the All-Ireland final would be held in Semple Stadium and so things were at fever pitch on Munster final day. In his book, Nicky English recalled how there was such a raucous reception for the Tipp team bus as it drove through Liberty Square that the instruction was given to do another lap.

That might have suggested a lack of focus from the challengers, but after Kevin Hennessy’s opening point for Cork, Tipp had a massive boost as Séamus Power scored a goal. However, Cork looked to have settled as Jimmy Barry-Murphy netted twice in quick succession, in the 11th and 15th minutes, but as half-time approached Tipp stayed in it as Donie O’Connell and then Nicky English both raised green flags. It left Cork ahead by 2-10 to 3-5 at the break.

Power — later to be bizarrely moved to the full-back after Bobby Ryan was forced off injured — cut the lead early in the second half but, while Hennessy replied for Cork on 40, they were to score just once more in the 25 scoreless minutes thereafter. In between, Tipp looked for all the world as if they would end their famine.

Centre-back John McIntyre was majestic for the home side, who levelled as sub Paul Dooley pointed with his first touch before Liam Maher put them in front. Though the excellent Pat Hartnett tied the game again, Power tapped a penalty over before Noel O’Dwyer gave Tipp a two-point lead. It was doubled through a Philip Kennedy 70 and an O’Dwyer free — Tipp four ahead with seven minutes left, 3-14 to 2-13.

Cork did not waver and they were rewarded as John Fenton’s free was followed by a levelling goal from sub Tony O’Sullivan in the wake of a John Sheedy save from Hartnett. 

More drama was to follow, though not before a vital Denis Mulcahy intervention to prevent what would have been a certain Tipp goal.

The ball was worked to O’Sullivan, who went for a point. Goalkeeper Sheedy tried to stop the ball going over the bar and did so but, unfortunately for him, Seánie O’Leary was lurking and fired home from close range. Fenton clinched it as Cork won by four.

More glory in Thurles was in store for them later that year as they beat Offaly to claim the centenary All-Ireland title.

Scorers for Cork: J Fenton 0-7 (0-6 f), J Barry-Murphy 2-0, S O’Leary 1-1, P Horgan, K Hennessy 0-3 each, T O’Sullivan 1-0.

Tipperary: S Power 1-6 (0-5f), D O’Connell 1-2, N O’Dwyer (0-1f), P Kennedy (0-1 70) 0-2 each, L Maher 0-1.

CORK: G Cunningham; D Mulcahy, D O’Grady, J Hodgins; T Cashman, J Crowley, D McCurtain; J Fenton, P Hartnett; P Horgan, T Crowley, K Hennessy; T Mulcahy, J Barry-Murphy, S O’Leary.

Subs: J Blake for O’Grady (51), T O’Sullivan for T Crowley (55), D Walsh for Horgan (62).

TIPPERARY: J Sheedy; J Bergin, J Keogh, D Cahill; P Fitzelle, J McIntyre, B Ryan; R Callaghan, P Kennedy; N English, D O’Connell, L Maher; M Doyle, S Power, N O’Dwyer.

Subs: J Doyle for Cahill (12), B Heffernan for Fitzelle (28), P Dooley for Ryan (45).

Referee: J Moore (Waterford).

1978: Rebel treble

Cork 1-15 Kilkenny 2-8

LEAGUE is league and championship is championship, we are constantly told, but each spring the previous lessons seem to be ignored.

So it was that, when Cork were relegated from Division 1A of the National Hurling League in 1978, there was some cause for concern. Never mind that they had won three of their six matches and Kilkenny, with the same record, finished second of seven teams; never mind that the three previous Munster hurling titles went to the Rebels; and, last but not least, never mind that the Liam MacCarthy Cup hadn’t left Leeside since 1976.

Cork had 12 points to spare on Waterford in the Munster semi-final and then faced Clare — winners of the previous two leagues — in the decider in Thurles, prevailing on a 0-13 to 0-11 scoreline after a claustrophobic battle.

Jimmy Barry-Murphy shoots from Joe Hennessy in 1978.
Jimmy Barry-Murphy shoots from Joe Hennessy in 1978.

Owing to the nature of the championship format of the time, that put them straight into the All-Ireland final. Galway — the last team to have beaten Cork in the championship, in the 1975 semi-final — beat Antrim in a quarter-final before giving way to Kilkenny in the semis.

The Cats had suckered Cork with a late fightback in the 80-minute final in 1972, but this time revenge was earned as Fr Bertie Troy’s side achieved the first three-in-a-row since the Rebels of 1952-54.

Cork had a lightning start with a Jimmy Barry-Murphy point after 25 seconds while Ray Cummins was denied a goal by a good Noel Skehan save. However, Kilkenny replied with a Kevin Fennelly goal and Tim Crowley had a penalty stopped by Skehan – while Cork battled back to parity, the sides were neck and neck for most of the first half and the scoreline at the break was 0-7 to 1-4.

The early stages of the second half were the same but a virtuoso point by Crowley gave Cork a lift and when points followed from captain Charlie McCarthy and Gerald McCarthy the Rebels were three ahead.

Liam ‘Chunky’ O’Brien pulled one back for the Cats but Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s goal in the 58th minute gave Cork a five-point lead. That was immediately replied to with a goal by Billy Fitzpatrick of Kilkenny, but they couldn’t come any closer. Late scores from Ray Cummins and Charlie McCarthy gave Cork a cushion of four by the end.

As McCarthy went up the steps of the Hogan Stand to receive the cup, he was greeted by a coterie of Cork natives — GAA ard-stiúrthóir Seán Ó Síocháin, Jack Lynch and GAA President Con Murphy, who was presenting to a Rebel skipper for the third straight year. The headline on the back page of the following day’s Evening Echo said ‘Charlie’s Angels’.

Cork hurlers Martin Coleman and Charlie McCarthy hold the Liam MacCarthy Cup aloft at the homecoming for the 1978 All-Ireland-winning team.
Cork hurlers Martin Coleman and Charlie McCarthy hold the Liam MacCarthy Cup aloft at the homecoming for the 1978 All-Ireland-winning team.

The victory also proved to be the last for the legendary Christy Ring, a selector to the side. He would die in March of 1979.

Scorers for Cork: C McCarthy 0-7 (0-5 f), J Barry-Murphy 1-1, G McCarthy, T Crowley 0-2 each, T Cashman, S O’Leary, R Cummins 0-1 each.

Kilkenny: L O’Brien 0-4f, B Fitzpatrick 1-1, K Fennelly 1-0, M Brennan 0-2, J Hennessy 0-1 70.

CORK: M Coleman; B Murphy, M O’Doherty, J Horgan; D MacCurtain, J Crowley, D Coughlan; T Cashman, P Moylan; J Barry-Murphy, G McCarthy, T Crowley; C McCarthy, R Cummins, S O’Leary.

Subs: J Allen for Cashman (51), E O’Donoghue for O’Leary (65).

KILKENNY: N Skehan; P Prendergast, F Larkin, D O’Hara; J Hennessy, G Henderson, R Reid; L O’Brien, F Cummins; K Fennelly, M Crotty, B Fitzpatrick; M Brennan, B Cody, M Ruth.

Subs: T Malone for Fennelly (54), P Henderson for O’Brien (56).

Referee: J Rankins (Laois).

First leg of the Double

Cork 5-15 Galway 2-21

Cork’s All-Ireland win of 1986 had come on the back of a fifth straight Munster title but Tipperary’s emergence the following year saw them become the provincial kingpins, winning three on the trot and ending an 18-year wait for Liam MacCarthy in 1989.

After defeat to Waterford following a replay in ’89, it seemed Cork were set for a period of transition but new manager Fr Michael O’Brien didn’t entertain such notions – he had his new car registered as 90-C-27 as a sign that the county would win the All-Ireland for the 27th time.

Cork captain Tomás Mulcahy prepares to lift the Liam MacCarthy Cup. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE
Cork captain Tomás Mulcahy prepares to lift the Liam MacCarthy Cup. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

Assisted by trainer Gerald McCarthy, he set about building a new team, recalling players like Tomás Mulcahy – captain after Glen Rovers had won the county title – and Kevin Hennessy, but a poor league semi-final defeat to Wexford meant that there were still doubts.

Wins over Kerry and Waterford did little to extinguish those and Cork were huge underdogs for the Munster final against Tipp in Thurles but 2-7 from Mark Foley helped them to win by 4-16 to 2-14.

An All-Ireland semi-final win over Antrim set up another final against Galway, beaten by Cork in 1986 and in the three previous deciders between the counties.

However, at half-time in Croke Park on September 2, it looked for all the world as if Galway would end their final hoodoo against Cork; when a five-point lead was extended to seven on the resumption, Cork’s pre-game status as underdogs seemed all the more understandable.

Though Cork had a goal from Kevin Hennessy after 48 seconds and they led until the 19th minute, Galway looked likelier champions when they got on top. The Tribesmen’s captain Joe Cooney was in inspired form in the first half, while Tony Keady at centre-back and midfielder Michael Coleman were also to the fore.

Cooney’s kicked goal levelled the game at 1-6 each before Éanna Ryan put Cyril Farrell’s side ahead for the first time in the 20th minute.

Éanna Ryan put them ahead for the first time and they drove on from there; after one Cooney point, Cork centre-back Jim Cashman banged his hurley to the ground in frustration as if to say, “What can I do here?” But Galway wasted at least two good goal chances and, though Cork turned with a deficit of 1-13 to 1-8, they were not a lost cause by any means.

After Cork squandered goal opportunities early in the second half, Galway added two more points to buttress their lead but a superb goal by Cork captain Tomás Mulcahy in the 44th minute – running on to a Ger Cunningham clearance – suggested there was momentum to be mined by the men in red. When Cunningham then bravely saved from Martin Naughton – injuring his nose – and the ball was waved wide rather than a 65 being awarded, the feeling was amplified.

Mulcahy at centre-forward broke Tony Keady’s grip while, at the other end, Cashman began to get the upper hand on Coooney while Seán O’Gorman was excellent in defence. 

They had drawn to within two points by the time Mark Foley found the net and, though Galway drew level again, John Fitzgibbon raised the green flag twice in quick succession.

Galway sub Brendan Lynskey did get a second goal for them to ensure that the outcome wasn’t decided until the very end, but Cork held out.

Teddy McCarthy rises to grab the sliotar. Picture: Sportsfile
Teddy McCarthy rises to grab the sliotar. Picture: Sportsfile

A fortnight later, the county’s football team beat Meath to secure the only ‘double’ of the modern era.

Scorers for Cork: J Fitzgibbon 2-1, K Hennessy 1-4 (0-3 f), T Mulcahy 1-2, M Foley 1-1, T McCarthy 0-3, T O’Sullivan 0-2, G Fitzgerald, K McGuckin (sl) 0-1 each.

Galway: J Cooney 1-7 (0-2 f), M Naughton, N Lane 0-4 each, B Lynskey 1-0, E Ryan 0-2, T Keady, M McGrath, M Coleman, A Cunningham 0-1 each.

CORK: G Cunningham; J Considine, D Walsh, S O’Gorman; S McCarthy, J Cashman, K McGuckin; B O’Sullivan, T McCarthy; G Fitzgerald, M Foley, T O’Sullivan; T Mulcahy, K Hennessy J Fitzgibbon. 

Subs: D Quirke for McGuckin (44), C Casey for B O’Sullivan (48).

GALWAY: J Commins; D Fahy, S Treacy, O Kilkenny; P Finnerty, T Keady, G Mclnerney; M Coleman, P Malone; A Cunningham, J Cooney, M Naughton; M McGrath, N Lane, É Ryan. 

Subs: T Monaghan for Malone (53), B Lynskey for Cunningham (60).

Referee: J Moore (Waterford).

Avoiding Clare and present danger

Cork 0-16 Clare 0-15

IN THE lifetime of any great team, there comes a point where their mettle will be fully tested, and in facing up to the challenge they lay their claim for greatness.

For the Cork vintage of the 2000s, that moment came on August 14, 2005 in the All-Ireland semi-final against Clare at Croke Park.

Niall McCarthy jumping for joy after getting the point to level the game. Picture: Dan Linehan
Niall McCarthy jumping for joy after getting the point to level the game. Picture: Dan Linehan

For the reigning champions, hopes of a second consecutive All-Ireland were hanging by a thread as they trailed Clare by six points with 20 minutes remaining in the semi-final in Croke Park.

Up until then, the Banner had dominated the large majority of the game with a dogged performance, with veterans Brian Lohan and Colin Lynch turning back the clock with fine displays. In fact, Anthony Daly’s side should have led by more at half-time than they did, 0-9 to 0-7, but at the outset of the second half they upped their game another notch to extend the lead to six by the 46th minute.

Cork were up against it and John Allen, in his first season in charge of the side, faced a big test. However, he and his management made the decisive calls in bringing off Ronan Curran and Brian Corcoran, with Wayne Sherlock and Neil Ronan being introduced to the fray.

Those decisions were to pay off, and the Rebels outscored the Banner 0-9 to 0-2 in the remainder, increasing the pace of the game coming down the stretch as Clare’s earlier exertions began to catch up with them.

However, even after Ben O’Connor’s point to put Cork 0-16 to 0-15 in front and the end in sight, Clare still had a chance to force a draw, and it was unfortunate for Lynch, who had such an exceptional game, that he saw his effort tail just wide of the upright.

It illustrated the cruelty of sport, but it also showed that Cork possessed the necessary fighting abilities to pull a game out of the fire when it was necessary to do so. A month later, they accounted for Galway in the decider with far more ease to retain the title, but this was a pivotal win, which manager Allen admitted after the game.

Desperate situations call for desperate measures and we made the brave decision to take off our centre-back and full-forward.

“Our backs were literally to the wall. Clare had outhurled and outwitted us for long periods and those two decisions were the toughest and bravest we’ve ever had to make, certainly since I became involved.

“Fortunately for us they worked. John Gardiner was majestic when he went to centre-back and Neil Ronan again show just how valuable a player he is to the team.

“Someone coined the phrase that champions die hard and by God we fought as tough a battle out there today as any team in the past has done. I’m absolutely thrilled for every one of the players and mentors that we managed to pull this game out of the fire.”

Tom Kenny on the move in 2005. Picture: INPHO/ Tom Honan
Tom Kenny on the move in 2005. Picture: INPHO/ Tom Honan

Scorers for Cork: B O’Connor 0-5 (0-2 f, 0-1 sl), J Gardiner 0-2 (0-1 f), J Deane, J O’Connor 0-2 each, T McCarthy, S Óg Ó hAilpín, K Murphy (Sars), N Ronan, N McCarthy 0-1 each.

Clare: T Carmody, N Gilligan (f) 0-4 each, T Griffin 0-3, S McMahon (0-1 65), A Markham, B O’Connell, A Quinn 0-1 each.

CORK: D Óg Cusack; P Mulcahy, D O’Sullivan, B Murphy; J Gardiner, R Curran, S Óg Ó hAilpín; J O’Connor, T Kenny; B O’Connor, N McCarthy, T McCarthy; K Murphy (Sarsfields), B Corcoran, J Deane. 

Subs: K Murphy (Erin’s Own) for T McCarthy (half-time), N Ronan for Corcoran, W Sherlock for Curran (60), J O’Callaghan for K Murphy (Sarsfields) (67).

CLARE: D Fitzgerald; F Lohan, B Lohan, G O’Grady; D Hoey, S McMahon, G Quinn; B O’Connell, C Lynch; D McMahon, T Carmody, A Markham; A Quinn, N Gilligan, T Griffin. 

Subs: F Lynch for Markham (60), J Clancy for O’Connell (63), D O’Rourke for Quinn (66).

Referee: D Murphy (Wexford).

Rebels come in from the cold

Cork 3-9 Kilkenny 1-10

“GIVING a display which was far better than that expected of them, the young Cork hurling team achieved the ambition of a lifetime at Croke Park yesterday when they vanquished Kilkenny to restore the All-Ireland crown to Leeside after twelve years in the wildneress.”

So began the Evening Echo’s report of the 1966 All-Ireland final on Monday, September 5, 1966, under the heading, “Cork’s hour of glory at Croke Park.”

The county hadn’t won the All-Ireland since 1954 (though the 1903-19 drought was longer) and had only won one Munster title in the interim, in 1956, but a young team had stormed through Munster and weren’t fazed by the size of the task in front of them.

Gerald McCarthy, the young captain of the team remembered how any anxiety was calmed on the bus to Croke Park from the team’s base.

“It was a first final for all of us and you’d expect that we’d be nervous,” he said.

“We stayed out in the West County Hotel in Chapelizod and, on the Sunday morning, when we got on the coach to Croke Park, all of a sudden a sing-song started and, all the way to Croke Park, we never stopped! It was all Rebel songs: 'And we’re all off to Dublin in the green, in the green/Where the helmets glisten in the sun.'

"It was brilliant and it relaxed everybody, the atmosphere was great. Whoever started it, I don’t know, he was a brave man but it worked!”

Jim 'Tough' Barry celebrates with Cork players Tony Connolly, Justin McCarthy, Seanie Barry, Jerry O'Sullivan and captain Gerald McCarthy.
Jim 'Tough' Barry celebrates with Cork players Tony Connolly, Justin McCarthy, Seanie Barry, Jerry O'Sullivan and captain Gerald McCarthy.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Rising, 500 survivors of the insurrection were special guests of the GAA and, prior to the national anthem, the Artane Boys’ Band played Oró Sé Do Bheatha ‘Bhaile.

Cork might have had an early goal but Charlie McCarthy was denied by Ollie Walsh and, with the wind behind them, Kilkenny had moved three points ahead when Eddie Keher pointed a free in the 13th minute. Their lead was 0-5 to 0-1 by 22, when Colm Sheehan scored the first of his three goals after good work from Jerry O’Sullivan and Seánie Barry. While Kilkenny responded to lead by 0-7 to 1-2 by half-time, Cork were well in the game and a good point by captain Gerald McCarthy on the restart was followed by a Barry free after Sheehan had been fouled.

Keher did put Kilkenny back in front in the eighth minute of the second half but Sheehan’s second goal, from a Charlie McCarthy pass, put Cork into a lead that they would not lose. Barry’s subsequent point made it 2-5 to 0-8.

The gap was narrowed to a single point again thanks to scores from Keher and Joe Dunphy but Cork’s third goal soon materialised. John O’Halloran was the architect, coming in from the right, and it seemed like his delivery might have gone all the way in but it was later revealed that Sheehan got a touch for his hat-trick.

That made it 3-5 to 0-10 and two long-range Justin McCarthy points sandwiched one by Barry to leave Cork seven in front. Tom Walsh did pull a goal back for Kilkenny in the 59th minute but John Bennett pointed for Cork at the death.

It was the first time since 1931 that a Cork All-Ireland-winning team didn’t feature Christy Ring. 

Later that year, they would add the U21 title, beating Wexford after the final went to two replays. Gerald McCarthy also skippered that side, creating a unique record that would never be equalled.

In addition, it would prove to be the 13th and last time that legendary trainer Jim ‘Tough’ Barry, who died in 1968, was involved with an All-Ireland-winning Cork team.

CORK: P Barry; P Doolan, T O’Donoghue, D Murphy; T Connolly, J O’Sullivan, P Fitzgerald; J McCarthy (0-2, 1f), M Waters; S Barry (0-4, 3f), J O’Halloran, G McCarthy (0-1); C McCarthy (0-1), C Sheehan (3-0), J Bennett (0-1).

KILKENNY: O Walsh; P Henderson, J Lynch, J Treacy; S Cleere, T Carroll, M Coogan; P Moran, J Teehan (0-1); E Keher (0-7, 4f), C Dunne, S Buckley (0-1); J Dunphy (0-1), P Dillon, T Walsh (1-0).

Sub: T Murphy for Dillon.

Referee: J Hatton (Wicklow).

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Podcast: 1000 Cork songs 
Singer/songwriter Jimmy Crowley talks to John Dolan

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