More than 20 years later, the 1994 Cork SFC final between Castlehaven and O’Donovan Rossa remains steeped in local lore.
Tomorrow’s semi-final between the west Cork neighbours will be the clubs’ fifth senior championship meeting. Since Skibb won after replays in 1996 and 2000, the Haven were victorious in ’98 and 2011 – but ’94 is the standout fixture.
The Haven had won the county in 1989, having operated at junior B level a little more than a decade earlier. They still had Larry Tompkins and Niall Cahalane near the peaks of their powers and a number of other dogged competitors, meaning that they were always tough to beat.
Skibb had come from nowhere in 1992 to win the county (the team made a killing backing themselves at 33-1) and had gone on to win Munster and All-Ireland titles too. When four second-half goals from Mick McCarthy gave them victory over Bishopstown in the 1992 Kelleher Shield final – played in October 1993 – it meant a clean sweep.
As well as McCarthy, the Davis brothers, Tony, Don and Pat, gave them class while Kevin O’Dwyer was developing into a top-class goalkeeper.
The build-up in west Cork was huge. Local weekly paper The Southern Star carried a front-page picture of sons of two opposing players kitted out, and both would go on to play for Cork – Francis Colins’ son Mark and Colm O’Driscoll, son of Gene, a Tadhg Mac Cárthaigh native who transferred to Skibb and coached them.
The official attendance given for the final in Páirc Uí Chaoimh was 22,000 and they were kept on the edge of their seats for the bulk of the hour, with the Haven denied victory as McCarthy – who would tragically die in a car accident in 1998 – kicked a free four minutes into injury time for a 1-9 each draw.
Brian O’Donovan, excellent at midfield, had put Rossa 1-8 to 1-7 in front with their first second-half score with five minutes left – the headline-writers would have loved him to have been the match-winner – but Larry Tompkins levelled for the Haven and then Cahalane got what looked to have been the crucial score. Tompkins could have put two in it as the clock ticked past 60 minutes, but he missed and McCarthy secured the draw.
Ian Breen’s penalty had helped Skibb to open up a 1-7 to 0-3 lead at one stage but just before half-time John Cleary netted for the Haven.
Two weeks later, the teams were back and the crowd was the same if not more than in the drawn game. It had emerged after the first match that Tompkins had damaged shoulder ligaments and was given little or no chance of being fit for the replay. Not for the first time in his career, though, he was shown to have near-superhuman fitness levels and, deployed at full-forward, he would prove to be the difference between the teams.
He would finish with six points in a 0-12 to 0-10 win, while Cahalane at midfield would play a captain’s role. illarney).
Martin O’Mahony and Ed Cleary were others who impressed for Castlehaven early on as they amassed a 0-4 to 0-1 lead but by half-time O’Donovan Rossa had given themselves some hope as they retired with a 0-7 to 0-5 deficit.
Mick McCarthy cut the gap to just a point upon the restart but then Tompkins showed his class with points in the 33rd, 34th and 37th minutes.
Again, though, Skibb came back with three from McCarthy but crucially they couldn’t achieve parity. Going for broke, they brought on Tony Davis, who hadn’t been able to start due to an ankle injury.
They were within a point as the end loomed and the smart money looked to be on extra time. Instead, Ed Cleary popped up with the insurance score for the Haven and they were the champions. They will hope for a similar outcome on Sunday.
Scorers for Castlehaven:
L Tompkins 0-6 (0-3f, 0-1 45), E Cleary (0-1f), J Maguire, M O’Mahony 0-1 each.
M McCarthy 0-6 (0-4f), D Davis 0-2, P Davis, J O’Driscoll 0-1 each.
M Maguire; D Cleary, D McCarthy, D Cahalane; M O’Brien, B Collins, L O’Connell; N Cahalane, D O’Sullivan; F Cahalane, MC O’Mahony, J Maguire; E Cleary, L Tompkins, M O’Mahony. Subs: P Cahalane for D O’Sullivan, J Cleary for M O’Mahony.
K O’Dwyer; J Evans, J O’Donovan, F McCarty; M Bohane, G O’Driscoll, J Breen; D O’Driscoll, B O’Donovan; C O’Donovan, J O’Driscoll, P Davis; D Davis, M McCarthy, A Byrne. Subs: D McCarthy for C O’Donovan, A Davis for D Davis.
N Barrett (Carrigtwohill).
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