MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: A different demographic: the changing face of Cork hurling

Where once Cork could field All-Ireland fifteens without leaving the city boundaries, now the Rebel hurling strongholds are flung far and wide, from Senior to Junior, says Michael Moynihan.

The usual perception of the 50s in Cork hurling is that of a golden era dominated by the big three, Glen Rovers, St Finbarr’s and Blackrock.

Sure enough, the 1953 All-Ireland-winning team is backboned by players from those powerhouses, with nine of the starting 15 coming from the three city clubs.

The general bias towards powerful clubs continued with the five players from east Cork teams: Sarsfields (one), Carrigtwohill (two), Midleton (one) and Castlemartyr (one).

The last player, Tom O’Sullivan of Buttevant, represented the 1952 county champions, divisional side Avondhu, and as such indicated a once-off result — it was 14 years before Avondhu won another title — rather than a pattern of dispersal of power throughout the county.

FINAL TEAM v GALWAY: 1 D. Creedon (Glen Rovers); 2 G. O’Riordan (Blackrock), 3 J. Lyons (Glen Rovers), 4 T. O’Shaughnessy (St Finbarr’s); 5 M. Fuohy (Carrigtwohill), 6 D. Hayes (Blackrock), 7 V. Twomey (Glen Rovers); 8 J. Twomey (Glen Rovers), 9 G. Murphy (Midleton); 10 W. J. Daly (Carrigtwohill), 11 J. Hartnett (Glen Rovers), 12 C. Ring (Glen Rovers, capt); 13 T. O’Sullivan (Buttevant), 14 L. Dowling (Castlemartyr), 15 P. Barry (Sarsfields)

The 1983 team shows more power being concentrated within the city rather than less: the last big show of city hurling power? The big three clubs still dominate, contributing 10 of the 11 city-based players, with Johnny Crowley of Bishopstown being the exception. The early ’80s was a period in which Midleton came with a strong side which would eventually win the All-Ireland club title, but only two players — John Fenton and Kevin Hennessy — made the intercounty side that year. The only other player from east Cork was Bertie Óg Murphy from Sarsfields, while Tim Crowley of Newcestown was the Tom O’Sullivan of his era, representing an entire division (Carbery) but not personifying a new powerhouse in the local scene.

FINAL TEAM v KILKENNY: 1 G. Cunningham (St Finbarr’s); 2 B. Murphy (Nemo Rangers), 3 D. O’Grady (St Finbarr’s), 4 D. MacCurtain (Blackrock); 5 P. Horgan (Glen Rovers), 6 J. Crowley (Bishopstown), 7 T. Cashman (Blackrock); 8 J. Buckley (Glen Rovers), 9 J. Fenton (Midleton); 10 B. Óg Murphy (Sars), 11 K. Hennessy (Midleton), 12 T. Crowley (Newcestown); 13 T. Mulcahy (Glen Rovers), 14 J. Barry-Murphy (St Finbarr’s, capt), 15 É. O’Donoghue (Blackrock)

This is by far the most interesting team in terms of dispersal.

There are five players from the city, but almost as many from north Cork, with Duhallow providing three players on the first 15 (and one panellist) - see story below - and Newtownshandrum, though part of the Avondhu division, contributing one starter. East Cork maintains its consistent record, with five starters, though now, famously, it’s the likes of St Ita’s near Killeagh which has a starter alongside Midleton (two) and Sarsfields (two). There’s no equivalent of Tim Crowley but again, consistently, there’s a single representative from one division — Tom Kenny of Grenagh in the Muskerry division.

SEMI-FINAL TEAM v DUBLIN: 1 Anthony Nash (Kanturk); 2 Stephen McDonnell (Glen Rovers), 3 Shane O’Neill (Bishopstown), 4 Conor O’Sullivan (Sarsfields); 5 Tom Kenny (Grenagh), 6 Christopher Joyce (Na Piarsaigh), 7 William Egan (Kilbrin); 8 Lorcán McLoughlin (Kanturk), 9 Daniel Kearney (Sars); 10 Séamus Harnedy (St Ita’s), 11 Jamie Coughlan (Newtownshandrum), 12 Pa Cronin (Bishopstown); 13 Luke O’Farrell (Midleton), 14 Patrick Horgan (Glen Rovers), 15 Conor Lehane (Midleton)

This article appeared in the Examiner's All-Ireland Hurling Final supplement on Saturday September 7.

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