00:00 Saturday 31 December 2011  Written by Tom Lyons

Dohenys celebrate 125th anniversary

ONE HUNDRED and twenty-five years ago, in late 1886, a group of men gathered together in Dunmanway to set up a branch of the newly-organised Gaelic Athletic Association. The club became the first in West Cork to affiliate to the GAA and adopted the name 'Michael Doheny GAA Club' after the famous Fenian who had spent some time in the area when on the run from the British. That name has since been shortened to 'The Dohenys' and has become a household name all over Cork and far beyond.

During the past 125 years Dohenys have earned a reputation as fearless championship battlers, small in population but huge in competitiveness. By far the smallest urban area in West Cork, they have more than held their own with their larger brothers in football and have always endeavoured to compete among the elite.

In 1897 they became the first team from West Cork to win the county senior title, and went on to represent Cork in the All-Ireland final. That set the standard for all future Doheny teams. Three county junior A football titles have been won in 1935, 1966 and 1993 while the club has won two intermediate titles in 1972 and 1995. County senior finals were contested in 1975 and 2006, while countless SW titles have been won in all grades.

Hurling hasn't been forgotten, either, and the club is one of the few to win double SW junior football and hurling titles, in 1958 and 1959, with the county and Munster junior B titles being won in 2006.

While title wins will always be remembered, very often it was the near misses that brought great glory to the club as the green-clad teams invariably punched above their weight in all grades. The renowned spirit of the Dohenys was real, not fantasy, and even though they became known for small, talented teams, it was the size of the fight in the dog that really counted. Very often it did come down to a fight in the good old days before we all became too civilized and Dohenys were never found wanting when the chips were down.

Battling spirit

The battling spirit of the Dohenys was never more needed in its proud history than this season as the senior team found itself deep in relegation trouble. It should never have come about as the team threw away an eight-point lead against Bishopstown in the first round with only ten minutes left on the clock. Further defeats against Ilen Rovers and St Nick's meant that the team was only one hour away from plunging into the intermediate grade in their special year. Opponents were Valley Rovers and when the chips were down Dohenys came through with their best display of the season to win well and retain their senior status for 2012.

Sometimes Dohenys take their hurling seriously and sometimes they don't but over the past twenty years they have been doing great work with their underage teams, known as Sam Maguires, with several county titles being won. The result of this was the winning of the junior B hurling county, going on to win the Munster title, and during the past two seasons the team has contested two SW junior A finals.

After running Mathúnas so close in last year's final, they were favoured by many to win the title this season, their first since distant 1963. It was not to be, however. Having beaten Newcestown, St James, Kilbrittain and Ballinascarthy, they played St Oliver Plunkett's in the final but on the day had to give way to an Ahiohill side winning their first title and firing on all cylinders. But it looks only a matter of time before this team, featuring outstanding Cork minor, Darren Sweetnam, wins this elusive title.

Building on the near-success of the juniors, the U21 hurlers showed that there is loads of hurling talent on the way up when they won the SW B title, beating St Mary's in the final. Tom Collins, John Forbes, Conor Cronin, Brian O'Driscoll and Maurice Murphy are all hurling stars of the future.

It was another busy year for the Sam Maguire Club, who availed of the new regional set-up to field teams in all competitive grades from U13 to minor, football and hurling, bar U15 hurling, while also fielding very talented young teams from U8 to U12.

Team of the year was surely the U13 football team who won both the West Region cup and the county premier 2 league, while the U15 footballers also reached the county final and the U12 footballers won the special West Region league. St Patrick's Boys NS won section A of the West Cork Sciath na Scol.

On top of the county success of the minor footballers last season, the successes of this year's U12, U13 and U15 teams show that there is great hope for the future if the club can avoid the plague of emigration which has robbed them of several fine players in recent years.

125th anniversary

While action on the pitch was non-stop all season, the club was also busy celebrating its 125th off the field. The year began with the club dinner in January but a special centenary dinner was held in November. Before that celebration a special game between the county junior champions of 1993 and the present senior team drew a large crowd and a couple of nights previously the club's history book outlining all the activity of the past 25 years was launched at a special function. Written by Tom Lyons and launched by Finbarr Hennessy the book, 1987 to 2011, follows on the original club history, 1886 to 1986, and is available for sale in Dunmanway shops.

Guest of honour at the gala centenary function was president-elect of the GAA, Liam O'Neill, along with chairman-elect of the county board, Bob Ryan.

Earlier in the year a special Questions and Answers night was held in the pavilion with John Allen, Teddy McCarthy, Richie Bennis and Páidí Ó Sé as special guests.

Jerry O'Mahony was the chairman who led Dohenys in their 125th year, with Martin Gildea as vice-chairman, Caroline Collins as rúnaí, Mary Maybury as assistant rúnaí, Kieran Farr as treasurer, Caroline McCarthy as assis. treasurer, Eddie Moloney as PRO, Brendan O'Rourke as assis. PRO, Clement Deane as registrar, Derry McCarthy as cultural officer and Fachtna McCarthy as games officer. Dr Michael Herlihy is the president of the club.

The underage Sam Maguires Club was led by chairman, Dave O'Leary, with Kevin O'Sullivan as vice-chairman, Finbarr O'Neill as rúnaí, Mary Maybury as assis. rúnaí, Joe Kelly as treasurer, Caroline McCarthy as assis. treasurer, Kevin Crowley as PRO, Caroline McCarthy as registrar and Kevin O'Sullivan as child protection officer.

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