We don’t have to go back too far to see when Castlelyons started to become a major force in Cork hurling.1991 was the year when Castlelyons junior B hurlers went on a magnificent all the way to the county final. On that wet, cold day in Watergrasshill when Paul “Blondie” O’Sullivan lifted the cup nobody would have dreamt how far they would go in the next 7 years. That team had some very experienced players in their ranks. Ex Nemo Rangers star Colm Murphy, Michael Spillane and Anthony O’Reagan led a number of younger players who would later create history.
1993 saw the East Cork Junior A Hurling title return to Castlelyons for the first time in 38years. Padraigh O’Brien captained a side of young hurlers against an experienced Killeagh team. The heroics of goalkeeper Aiden Barry on the day earn him the man of the match award.
The same year was also extremely important in the development of the modern team. Castlelyons under16 hurlers swept aside all opposition to win the county. That team had players like Timmy McCarthy, Paul Cotter, Andrew Meade and Trevor Hickey who are now the backbone of the modern team. Those same bunches of lads went on to be the first Castlelyons minor team to win an East Cork in 1995 and were very unlucky in the county only to meet a team of little know hurlers from Newtownshandrum who later went on to win the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship.
Castlelyons made the East Cork final in 1997 and when Bride Rovers won their semi final it was an easy job to motivate the team. After a competitive match William O’Riordan raised the Jamsie Kelleher Cup aloft for the large Castlelyons support to see. Castlelyons went on to beat Ballinascarthy in the County semi final before meeting Courcey Rovers in the final. Courcey’s had beaten Castlelyons in the first round in ’93 so we knew it wasn’t going be easy if Castlelyons were to triumph. It was one of the most competitive finals ever seen and it took till the 60th minute before Peter Murphy and Timmy McCarthy scored to give Castlelyons a two point victory. The bonfires lead us home that night for celebrations that were only to be out done twelve months later.
Pa Finn, Bertie Murphy, Donal McCarthy and Cal McCarthy were the men who were responsible for the team of this era and when they returned to training in January 1998 they could feel a buzz around the squad that was going to stay until November. In Ballynoe they overcame Youghal in the first round before meeting Cloughduv. After 57 minutes of that match in Pairc Ui Rinn Castlelyons found themselves five points down when they were awarded a 21yard free. Up steps Timmy McCarthy to rifle the ball to the back of the net. When the referee blew a second time in the 60th minute the feeling of anticipation was overwhelming and Timmy fired home for the second time every body knew the had just witnessed something very special.
In the semi final Castlelyons overcame Mallow to set up a final against old east Cork rivals Killeagh. On that day in November goals from Peter Murphy and Padraigh O’Brien and some outstanding hurling from Eoin Fitzgerald brought Castlelyons up to senior ranks for the first time in their history. That famous team was, Aidan Barry , Barry O’Connell , William O’Riordan , Andrew Meade , Paul Cotter , Barry Fitzgerald , Sean Cotter , Paul Cashman ,Donal Sheehan , Peter Murphy , Timmy McCarthy , Eoin Fitzgerald , Padraigh O’Brien, Michael Spillane(Capt.) , Syl McAulliffe.