THE famine is over, 47 years of hurt is over for Inniscarra ended after they won the Co-Op Superstores Cork PIHC title at Páirc Uí Chaoimh at the end of October.
The Muskerry team dramatically beat Castlemartyr in the decider replay, 3-12 to 1-17, as Colm Casey’s goal right at the very end of the game won the game for the Muskerry team to spark wild celebrations.
After Scarra beat Ballymartle in the 1975 Cork JHC final at the Mardyke, not many with blue and white persuasion that day would have anticipated a 47 year wait between their next county success.
One of the new heroes on the Inniscarra team is wing-back Andrew McCarthy.
The 25-year-old might have only played 210 minutes this season, but there is a striking reason behind that, which makes his two brilliant performances in the drawn encounter and the replay in the final much more significant.
The 25-year-old was a promising player coming through the underage ranks and played a key role in the U21 county success in 2017, which laid the foundation for this season's triumph, while also making his mark on the premier intermediate side in recent years.
McCarthy, from Curraleigh in the parish of Inniscarra, life was turned upside down at the start of the season, when he lost his mother and it then became known he had a blood clot, which meant he couldn’t play sport in the short-term, with the long-term future not known at that point.
The imposing defender made his comeback for the second team, as a second-half sub in the win over Kilmichael in the MJK Oils Muskerry JAHC quarter-final and played a full game in the semi-final defeat to Ballinora in the same competition, a week before the PIHC final.
McCarthy talks candidly about his difficult start to the year.
“I was looking forward to 2022, I was going well, doing personal training before we went back with the team and then in February, my mother passed away following a three-year battle with cancer.
"It was an extremely tough time, and I nearly used the GAA in the weeks after as an escape to take my mind off things.”
The Civil Engineer was flying in training, on top of his game, looking to build on a positive 2021 campaign on a personal level, but just as things were going well on the pitch, a back injury he initially thought would only side-line him for a few weeks, would be much more serious.
“I was going well in training under an excellent new management team, we played a challenge game, really enjoyed it, then a couple of days later, I was hit with a chest infection.
"I recovered from that, then two weeks later I got Covid for the first-time. Thankfully, I was able to shake that off, and then my first training back, I felt an awful pain in my back, I went to the doctor straight away as I knew it was no ordinary pain.
"In the end, I was told I had a blood clot in my right lung, I was then on blood thinners and thought the season was all over.”
Remarkably, the 25-year-old made a speedy recovery and got the all-clear on the 13th of September and returned to the playing field the following day.
The rest is history, as they say, a month later, he would end up receiving the man of the match award in the PIHC final played in the worst conditions imaginable. An incredible story.
“I made my comeback against Kilmichael as a second-half sub for the second team in the quarter-final, then played the full game in the following round and I was hopeful of making the panel for the final.
"Then the manager came up to me a few days before the game saying I will be starting. I was chuffed, couldn’t believe it.
"I was nervous heading into the final, but I was pleased with my performances over the two games considering how little I played, but more importantly we won the trophy, which was the main thing.”
Inniscarra claimed the PIHC silverware at the second time of asking, beating Castlemartyr in the replay, with Colm Casey’s goal with the last puck snatching the win.
The towering defender looked up to heaven at the final whistle in a poignant moment on the Páirc Uí Chaoimh turf.
McCarthy and his teammates will be back in action in the Munster championship semi-final against either Roscrea or Ballysagart away from home on Saturday November 19th at 1.15pm.