Redmonds, one of Cork’s most decorated GAA clubs, will cease to exist on New Year’s Eve this year.
An EGM was held on Wednesday night and the sad decision was made to close the doors of the club’s premises next Saturday week, September 29.
Redmonds won the All-Ireland senior hurling title (representing county Cork) for 1892, having won the Cork senior hurling championship, and went on to win the Cork championship again in 1900, 1901, 1915 and 1917
Yet, in the last five years, they have fielded just one team, at junior level.
Even that was a struggle at times, to get players on the field as games clashed with the soccer season from August onwards.
And the decision has now been made to call it a day, much to the disappointment of chairman Michael O’Shea.
“We have not renewed our licence for the bar and the club will close on September 29,” O’Shea revealed. “Officially, then, Redmonds will no longer exist on December 31 but there will be no club activity beyond September 29 anyway.
“The scarcity of customers coming into the bar has been detrimental to our finances and with our pitches four miles away in Lehenaghmore, the situation was not sustainable.”
With their club premises on Tower St in the city, it has been difficult for Redmonds to boost playing numbers.
“Most parents now bring their kids to the Barr’s or Nemo rather than to us. The socio-economic circumstances are different these days in our immediate area so there are less young families than there were previously.
“Recently, the brilliant Francie Holland had to tog out at 61 years of age, which is obviously far from ideal.
“But we were disappointed not to get more assistance from them. And it wasn’t money we were looking for. Thankfully, we will meet them now again in the next week or two.
“I’ll go up to the club in the next few weeks and take down the photographs on the walls and keep the ones that mean the most. That’ll be a sad day,” O’Shea added.
The news spread fast amongst those of us who had worn the famous green and white hoops of Redmonds. The WhatsApp messages told us the club we were happy to wear on our sleeve was no more.
Redmonds was founded in 1892 and won the last of its five Cork senior hurling championships in 1917. Serving the Tower Street area and surrounding environs of the south inner city it is a miracle it survived so long. It hasn’t had a minor team since the late 1980s and no underage structure for over three decades. It has been a junior club since seemingly for ever.
Surrounded by the behemoths of the Barrs and Nemo Rangers, playing for Redmonds was never about glory. Some really good local players went to the glamour of the blue and gold and black and green. We never blamed them.
But for many of us, the green and white hooped jersey, rather like much of what the GAA stands for, was an expression of pride in our little enclave of Cork city. And therein lies the rub. That enclave, once teeming with the sons of the working classes is basically no more.
The sons of those I soldiered with now play for Bishopstown, Douglas and clubs all across Cork and beyond. Their fathers act as mentors for these clubs. As the inner city hollowed out so did Redmonds.
Playing for Redmonds meant something to us and we took great pride in the odd Junior B championship or Craobh Rua cup win. I played with my brothers and my childhood friends. Half of a team that won a Junior B hurling league in 1990 came from my street, Evergreen Buildings, which only has a dozen houses. The rest from a stone’s throw away in Industrial Place, Prosperity Square, and Presentation Place.
We played for ourselves, our friends, and our place. While the GAA is about place this manifests itself in its players and Redmonds produced many great ones. Of my generation our greatest thrill came when two of our players were selected to play for Cork. The exotically named Eddie Lingane played minor hurling for Cork in 1983 and U21 in 1986. John O’Brien played U21 football in 1986.
As our generation of players got older and moved to the suburbs Redmonds began to wither. That it kept going against insurmountable odds is a tribute to families like the O’Sheas, MacCarthys and O’Mahonys. It’s no exaggeration to say Redmonds was their life. They acquired playing pitches in Lehenaghmore by the airport, sustained a clubhouse in Tower Street and produced teams who played hard and fair which gave rise to the moniker, the Sporting Reds. Those sporting reds gave me a love of the GAA, lifelong friendships, and a sense of what it means to soldier on the field, more often than not in losing causes, with your comrades.
When told the news that my beloved Redmonds would go out of existence next week I looked at the Craobh Rua cup plaque from 1999 that holds pride of place on my mantelpiece in the leafy suburb of Castleknock, whose own thriving GAA club hosts 1500 members from over 650 families.
The Craobh Rua cup is a hurling competition that means little to anyone outside a very small few teams in the Seandun division. Winning it at the turn of the century meant everything to me and my club. A club that is no more but leaves behind a proud legacy.
- Author Gary Murphy is Professor of Politics at Dublin City University