Between 1971 and ‘80, Glen Rovers, St Finbarr’s and Blackrock held near exclusive ownership of the Munster Club SHC title.
Indeed, such was the dominance of these three Cork teams during this 10-year spell, that the Tommy Moore Cup returned to Cork City seven times.
The Glen won the last of their provincial titles in 1976. Now, had you told Red Crowley and Denis Coughlan back then that 40 winters would pass before the Blackpool outfit returned to the Munster decider, they’d have instructed you to go and lie down in a dark room. Crowley and Coughlan wore the number five and six jerseys during the all-conquering campaign of ‘76/77, with Crowley spending most of his time out at midfield with JJ O’Neill. Crowley saw red during the 2-8 to 2-4 Munster final win over South Liberties at the Gaelic Grounds, with their opponents having already been reduced to 13-men by Waterford referee Noel Dalton.
“Whether my sending off was to balance out their two earlier dismissals, I’m not entirely sure,” Crowley recalls. “The game was so physical. I don’t believe today’s game would be able to live with the physicality of the game back then. South Liberties had Joe McKenna, Pat Hartigan and the three Grimes. They were a good team and we did well to get past them.”
Crowley finished his club career with two Munster and All-Ireland club medals and is adamant that it was the rivalry of the three city clubs that led to such an unprecedented period of dominance.
“We were of the attitude that if Blackrock and the Barrs won a Munster title, then so could we. We wanted to emulate them.”
Added Coughlan: “We all wanted to outdo each other, so once you got past them and out of Cork, the whole thing opened up and anything was possible.
“It is fantastic that the club is back in the Munster final and how appropriate it would be to win it given the club is celebrating its centenary year.
“I think it’ll come down to Tony Kelly and Patrick Horgan, and how they are managed.”
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