Throwback Thursday: Blackrock golden age began with All-Ireland success in 1972 

Dylan O’Connell recalls Rockies' semi-final victory 51 years ago which led to a hugely successful era
Throwback Thursday: Blackrock golden age began with All-Ireland success in 1972 

Derry Cremen’s boys on Cork team in minor All-Ireland in 1966: From left: Ray Cummins; Paddy Geary; Brian Tobin; Simon Murphy; Paddy Moylan; Bernard Hurley and Frank Norbert,

FIFTY ONE years ago this week, Blackrock became the first side from Cork to qualify for the All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship final by beating Tommy Larkin’s 2-8 to 3-7 at Duggan Park in Ballinasloe.

Two weeks later they won the trophy by defeating Rathnure in Waterford, and that brought the biggest prize that club hurling has to offer to the Rebel County for the first time.

UCC were the inaugural representatives of Cork in the new competition in 1971 and they only played one game in the Munster championship, which was already in existence.

They were beaten in a replay in the semi-finals by Clarecastle and that ended the county’s aspirations of winning the first All-Ireland club championship.

Blackrock managed to win the tournament in 1972, and their journey started with a 2-18 to 2-11 victory over Claughaun in the quarter-finals of the Munster championship.

That was their first game in three months, as the Cork final had been played in October 1971 and the provincial championship started in January.

Blackrock showed no signs of rust as they got to the semi-finals and beat Newmarket-on-Fergus.

The Rockies were first-time finalists at provincial level and they went into the game looking to replicate the achievements of the Glen Rovers in 1964 and The Barrs in 1965, in the original Munster Senior Club Hurling Championship, which brought the best of the best against one another but there was no subsequent All-Ireland to qualify for.

Blackrock went down to Fitzgerald Stadium for the Munster final and beat Moyne–Templetuohy 4-10 to 3-1 and qualified for the All-Ireland series.


This set up the fixture with Tommy Larkin’s, a club experiencing their first run in the championship. They had just played in, and won, a breakthrough Galway Senior Club Hurling Championship final and the momentum of that carried them through to success in the Connacht final against Four Roads from Roscommon.

The quality of the Blackrock team outweighed any need for nerves going into the semi-final. They already brought the Seán Óg Murphy Cup back to Church Road, it having been away for 10 years, and they then conquered Munster.

Their sole objective then and there was lifting the biggest trophy that club hurling now has to offer.

The core of this team was the Cummins brothers: Ray, Kevin, and Brendan.

They also had Frank Cummins, one of the greatest Kilkenny hurlers of all time, who won excelled with the Cats from the late '60s to early '80s but switched to the Rockies at club level.

The panel also included Pat Moylan, who captained the Cork minors to success in the All-Ireland championship in 1967. He also won three U21 medals in a row and was now having a breakthrough season with the senior hurlers in Blackrock.

The captain was John Horgan, who took on the role in 1971 when he was just 21 years old. He was already a household name around the city after helping Cork win All-Irelands at minor and U21 level and he was on the panel that beat Wexford to the Liam McCarthy Cup in 1970.

This was a medal collection that would satisfy any player in the game, but it was actually the start of Horgan’s career as he would go on to play an important role in Cork’s three-in-a-row, from 1976 to 1978.

All of that was to come, 1971 was all about a young captain delivering with a group of players that seemed to be destined for greatness.

This team would go on to win All-Ireland club medals in 1972, 1974, and 1979. They were also beaten finalists in 1976 and 1980.

It is considered a golden era for hurling on Church Road, a time that truly started in Ballinasloe against Tommy Larkin’s.

Pat Moylan personally embodied the cause on the day as he hit over four points from open play. The weight of the occasion meant nothing to the half-forward and he helped Blackrock put it up a Tommy Larkin’s team that responded to everything that the Rockies put over.


What went in Blackrock’s favour was the sheer depth in the panel. They had six scorers on the day, as opposed to Tommy Larkin’s five. This might be seen as a small factor but it allowed them to score three goals, which proved decisive at the full-time whistle.

Blackrock won by just two points, but the slim margin did not matter as they made their way down the west side of the country.

They were through to the All-Ireland final and that is all that mattered, and immediately people started counting down to the final.

Two weeks later Blackrock faced Rathnure in the All-Ireland final at Walsh Park in Waterford, and they finished the job with a 5-13 to 6-09 victory over the Leinster champions.

Their journey was complete, or phase one, as this was the start of a dynasty that would bring four more Cork and Munster titles to Church Road over the next seven years, and two more All-Irelands.

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