Castlelyons GAA Notes WE 27.4.20. 2020-04-30 16:19:00

Reliving a historic year as Castlelyons took the 1997 County Junior Hurling Championship.

As the Sundays rolled on in Castlelyons in 1997 we had a feast of hurling bliss that have left powerful memories in the annals of the Club history so well done all. There is always a lead in and Dave Hegarty our juvenile secretary had developed an excellent juvenile scene that was now ticking like a clock as there were many great players coming through with some honing their skills and having success with St Colman’s College. This was really beginning to show in the nineties as we won Junior B County titles in football and hurling. Then we got to an East Cork JHC Final in 1996 with Matt Hegarty, Colm Murphy and Anthony O Regan over the team only to suffer the narrowest of defeats in Killeagh when Fr O Neills beat us 1-7 to 0-9 but one could sense that day that Castlelyons would be back again as we showed great promise.

In 1997 John Barrett was in the Chair with the late Tom Joe O Riordan secretary and they appointed Donal McCarthy (Timmy’s Dad) and Cal McCarthy selectors with Bertie Murphy physical trainer and Pa Finn of St Finbarrs the coach, all astute men, over the junior side. I spoke recently with Bertie Murphy and he said they had some up and coming players that time, so it was a matter of blending youth with experience. He arranged winter training up in Donal McCarthy’s hill field and Cal McCarthy supplied a tractor, Generator and Spotlight. Sport is all about the level of effort one puts in. This type of training was similar to Ger Loughnane’s spartan style training in Crusheen and Shannon Hill that proved so successful in the mid-nineties, so the Clare stuff was replicated in Castlelyons and Bertie said the lads gave it everything.

This training really paid dividend come the championship as they beat Watergrasshill in a tough first round East Cork JHC game in Rathcormac on a score of 1-15 to 1-11. The second game was handier as we took Killeagh second team 2-23 to 0-3. It was fair tough against Dungourney in the semi-final too as they pushed us all the way, but we won 1-15 to 0-10. Throughout the East Cork campaign, our team improved in every game as goalie Aidan Barry was an experienced troop commander, a good shot stopper and had a swagger to his play that instilled confidence. There were some powerful lines developing too with a good full back line mastered by William O Riordan in the middle and John Paul Dorgan, Ger McCarthy and Andrew Meade for the corners. The half-back line of Barry Fitzgerald, Trevor Hickey in the centre and Paul Cotter turned into one tightest and meanest in Cork hurling. Sean Cotter and Peter Murphy Paul Cashman were hard good hurlers around the middle. The attacking half of Padraig O Brien, Timmy McCarthy and Donal Sheehan had pace and moved in the ball fast. Mick Spillane was Bomber like at full forward and he had Eoin Fitzgerald and Sylvester McAuliffe snaffling scores each side of him. Sure, a lot of the lads that time also played on great St Colman’s teams, Imokilly, county minors, U21’s, intermediate and senior teams.

The East Cork final was always going to be tough as it was a local derby versus Bride Rovers in Clonmult Park in Midleton. It attracted a huge crowd of 4,000 patrons with Denis O Flynn refereeing and a massive battle expected. Rovers were strong and dominated for most of the first half until Timmy McCarthy put over 0-1 and Eoin Fitzgerald landed another to put us 0-8 to 0-6 up at half time. Early in the second half full forward Mick Spillane won a dirty ball turned and ran through the Rovers backline. He flicked a beauty across goal to Padraig O Brien who buried a mighty goal to put us on our way. Rovers did not lie down easy and exchanges were hard. At one stage a hurley came flying out over the wire and a Castlelyons man got the line leaving us with fourteen for the last twenty minutes. Rover attacked and Jerome O Driscoll scored 0-2 to put them back in the game but we held our lines and won it 1-16 to 0-9. Eoin Fitzgerald was on fire and had a total of 0-9 that day, Padraig O Brien 1-2, Timmy McCarthy, 0-2, as Trevor Hickey, Sylvester McAuliffe, and Mick Spillane 0-1 each.

This was a massive win for the lads, the club, and the Parish. There was a huge outpouring of emotion when William O Riordan lifted the Jamsie Kelleher trophy and it must have been particularly poignant for him as his father Tom Joe was on the last winning team of 1955. The team and panel was: - A Barry, G McCarthy, W O Riordan, J P Dorgan, B Fitzgerald, T Hickey, P Cotter, S Cotter, P Murphy, P O Brien, T McCarthy, P Cashman, E Fitzgerald, M Spillane and S McAuliffe with Michael O Donovan, A Meade, S Murphy, D Spillane, B Sheehan, K Cotter and J McGrath.

As East Cork champions Castlelyons had now built up a favourites tag for the county and lived up to that with a good 2-17 to 1-6 win over a handy Ballinascarthy outfit. We played great stuff in the semi final beating Ballinora 2-23 to 1-2. The final against Courcey Rovers was set for Sunday 23rd November in Páirc Uí Rinn and all was going well until Timmy McCarthy our own Cú Chulainn went to Scotland representing Cork in an U21 Shinty game. Unfortunately, he received a nasty hand injury. On the Sunday morning we gathered in the club bar and all knelt down to pray as Mass was said by Fr Michael Madden. The weather was terrible with hail and rain. Shortly after the Mass whether through Devine intervention or what we got word that the game called off until the following Sunday.

So, on Sunday 30th November 1997 it was last one out shut the door in Castlelyons as we all hit for Páirc Uí Rinn. There was even excitement on the way to the game as the special touring Castlelyons car was intercepted by a Garda due to an extra shiny windscreen but after a little exchange all worked out okay. We were the favourites due to our great form all year, but our loss of Timmy McCarthy gave a young Courcey outfit great hope too. The weather leading up to the game was poor and underfoot conditions were heavy as Diarmuid Kirwan threw in the ball Courceys meant business putting over a few points early on. Then Paul Cashman got onto a long ball from Eoin Fitzgerald ball and fired a bullet to the net. Eoin had a few points and when Padraig O Brien had another goal, we were up 2-4 to 0-3. However, Courceys closed the gap to make it 2-4 to 1-3 at half time. Timmy McCarthy despite an injured hand made his present felt as a sub. We started the second half under savage pressure but W O Riordan at full back and our half line of Barry Fitzgerald, Trevor Hickey and Paul Cotter were up for it too. It was their dominance at the back helped us to a lead of four points with fifteen minutes to go and looking good.

But back came Courceys with 0-3 from Jamie Hayes and Jerry Murphy levelled it for them. Eoin Fitzgerald put us 0-1 again but back they came to not only to level but go up 0-1. Then Seanie Cotter put over a massive point for us from way out the field and it was level again with time almost up. The pressure was savage and even supporters were sweating when Paul Cashman won a ball and sent it in the direction of our full forward line. Mick Spillane was out like a rocket, won the ball, turned his marker, and got inside. There was a goal on, but he was pulled down and the referee blew for a penalty. Eoin Fitzgerald tapped it over the bar and game over for a historic Castlelyons victory. The great win was followed up by fierce celebrations in the Parish lasting until well into the new year and well deserved. Courcey Rovers wintered in celebrations too as seven days after the Castlelyons defeat they lifted the Dick Barrett Cup when their Under 21 hurlers defeated the famed St Finbarrs in the county final 3-10 to 1-5.   What a year and great memories.

Congratulations to the Cork Hurling Team.

 Well done to the Cork senior hurling panel and management on completing the Solo Run for Marymount Hospice Cork and raising over €60,000 in the process. This is a very worthy cause and you can still do so through social media. Our men Colm Spillane and Niall O Leary did the “Solo Run” in their own confines. They are staying fit and will be ready for the fray whenever play resumes.

Votes of Sympathy

Castlelyons GAA wish to express sincere condolences to the Forde, O Sullivan, Castlelyons, the Meade and Arnold families, Desert and Bartlemy and the McCarthy Families, Mohera Castlelyons and Ballynoe on their recent bereavements. Solas na bhFlaitheas ar a nainmeacha go léir.

Main Club Sponsor: ZEUS Packaging Group

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