Long-serving county secretary Frank Murphy wasn’t gazing into a crystal ball when he sat down to prepare his annual report for the 1989 County Board Convention.
And, he wasn’t so bold as to predict that the county could achieve the All-Ireland double the following year. But, he suggested the feat was not impossible.
The context was a reminder that in 1990 they would be celebrating the centenary of the twin All-Ireland victories of Aghabullogue in hurling and Midleton in football in 1890.
Pointing out that the two clubs had plans in train to commemorate the event, he wrote: “it would be most appropriate that the county as a whole would suitably mark the occasion.
“It is an historic fact that our only dual All-Ireland senior successes in the one season were secured in 1890. No county has achieved this feat in ‘this century’... Perhaps we could inspire our senior footballers and hurlers to mark the centenary of our winning of our first All-Irelands in the most fitting way possible by bringing back to Leeside next year both the Sam Maguire and Liam MacCarthy Cups.
“It is a mighty assignment but not an unattainable dream.”
(For the record, Tipperary accomplished the feat in 1895 and 1900).
In the early years of the Association, counties were represented by the respective county champions in hurling and football and in Munster it was notable in 1990 that Cork recorded a double over Kerry.
In senior hurling, Aghabullogue defeated the Waterford champions (unknown) before going on to beat Kerry side Kilmoyley 2-0 to 0-1 in the final in Limerick on September 29.
After that, it was straight on to the All-Ireland final – played on November 16 – in which their opponents were Castlebridge from Wexford.
The game was played in Clonturk Park in Dublin and the late Jim Cronin noted in one of his first publications – ‘Cork GAA – A History 1886-1986’ – that both teams played in their bare feet!
History records that the game was ‘unfinished’ and that Aghabullogue were awarded the title, all because of ‘alleged excessively rough play’ on the part of Castlebridge.
They had been leading 2-2 to 1-6 (a goal back then exceeded any number of points) when the Aghabullogue captain Dan Lane took his players off the field – with the referee’s permission!
Similarly in football, only two games were played in Munster. Midleton travelled the short distance to Youghal where they defeated Kinsalebeg, the Waterford representatives. The final was played in Banteer on October 20, when the East Cork side defeated Laune Rangers 1-4 to 0-1. They played an All-Ireland semi-final against Armagh Harps (the first team from the Orchard County to win the Ulster title) and Midleton scored an easy victory, 1-15 to 0-1 on November 16 at Clonturk Park (situated in Drumcondra, where three finals in football and four in hurling were played in the early 1890s).
The other semi-final was fixed for the same day and the final was to be played afterwards. But Blues and Whites from Wexford had received a walk-over from Cahirlistrane from Galway and did not turn up.
In the event, the final wasn’t decided for another 18 months – in Clonturk Park on June 26, 1892 — and Midleton were triumphant on a score of 2-4 to 0-1. By the turn of the century, six attempts at the double had been made, two of which were won by Tipperary. And, prior to 1990, Offaly were the last county to contest both finals the same year. That was in 1981, when they won the Liam MacCarthy Cup for the first time and lost in the football decider to Kerry (coming back the following year to deny them the record of five-in-a-row).
In total, there have been 22 double appearances, as follows:
1890 – CORK. Won both titles
1890 – WEXFORD. Lost both finals.
1893 – CORK. Won hurling lost football.
1894 – CORK. Won hurling lost football.
1895 – TIPPERARY. Won both titles.
1896 – DUBLIN. Lost both finals.
1900 – TIPPERARY. Won both titles.
1900 – LONDON. Lost both finals.
1901 – LONDON, won hurling lost football.
1902 – LONDON. Lost both finals.
1903 – LONDON. Lost both finals.
1906 – DUBLIN. Won football, lost hurling.
1907 – CORK. Lost both finals.
1908 – DUBLIN. Won football, lost hurling.
1918 – WEXFORD. Won football, lost hurling.
1920 – DUBLIN. Won hurling, lost football.
1921 – DUBLIN. Won football, lost hurling.
1924 – DUBLIN. Won hurling, lost football.
1934 – DUBLIN. Lost both finals.
1942 – DUBLIN. Won football, lost hurling.
1956 – CORK. Lost both finals.
1981 – OFFALY. Won hurling, lost football.
1990 – CORK. Won both titles.
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