TOM LYONS talks to Brian Herlihy about Dohenys’ rise through the ranks in the mid 90s
BACK in junior ranks in the late 1980s after a glorious period when they rose from humble junior ranks, through intermediate to a county senior final in 1975, Dohenys began to re-emerge as a football force in the early 1990s.
In what was to be a magnificent decade for West Cork football and hurling, Dohenys more than played their part in contributing to the glory, the excitement and the controversy of that amazing decade.
The highlight for the Dunmanway men was undoubtedly 1995. Dohenys had won their one and only senior county title in 1897 and the target was to be back in senior ranks for the centenary of that famous win, in 1997.
The team to do it began to emerge in 1990 when they reached their first South West junior A football final since 1966, losing to Newcestown in a replay. Two years later, 1992, the South West title was captured against reigning champions Carbery Rangers and even though the team lost to Doneraile by a point in the county championship, having kicked a disastrous 21 wides, the experience was mounting up.
Newcomers like the Murray brothers, Kevin and Paudie, and Tim Buckley added greatly to the side. Small of stature but playing a lovely brand of combined, running football, the team was backboned by the Farrs, Herlihys, Cathal Crowley, Stephen Mohan, veteran goalkeeper Diarmuid Mawe, etc.
Barry Herlihy had just arrived back from London where he practiced as a dentist and captained the London Irish team to a surprise All-Ireland victory over his native Cork, to join his brother Brian on the team, and he was a huge plus for the forward line. Barry went on to become a prominent member of the club in later years, just like his father, Dr Michael, before him.
‘We were very disappointed by that performance against Doneraile,’ admitted Herlihy, ‘But poor shooting was to plague the team all through the decade. However, the experience proved vital and made us the team we became in 1993.
‘Who will ever forget that campaign and how it all ended. While we might want to forget the ending, we will never forget that we finished the year as South West and county junior champions.’
1993 was a year that will never be forgotten by the supporters of the green and white, for many reasons. We let Herlihy describe how Dohenys became county champions before ever winning the South West title.
‘Carbery hurlers were going very well that year and as a result the South West football championship, involving Kilbrittain, ran late,’ he explained.
‘West Cork had to nominate a team to go forward in the county and, as champions, we were nominated. It was a really tough campaign but we ended up beating Carrigtwohill in the county final.
‘We had to come back then to play Kilbrittain in the South West final and our county title was also up for grabs. The tension in Clonakilty that day could be cut with a knife. We scraped a narrow win but it all exploded after the game.
‘Still, we had won our county and it was on to intermediate football in 1994.’
The tough, long campaign, and the controversy, of 1993 had taken its toll on the team and it was a tired outfit that was beaten by top side Kilmurry in the first round in 1994. A long rest saw the team back to its best for 1995, but there were mounting problems.
‘Fiona McCarthy, a PE teacher from Glanmire, working in Dunmanway, was our trainer in those days, possibly the only female trainer in Cork football, and she did a wonderful job with the team,’ explained Herlihy.
‘Jerry O’Mahony took over as manager and promised us we would win the county, but we had a pile of injuries that season.
‘Still we beat Naomh Abán and had two fierce games against Clyda Rovers in the semi-final. The first was played at a cracking pace and because of injuries we had to bring Stephen Mohan home from America for the replay. Unfortunately, it turned into a real battle and both Stephen and John Hayden were sent off. Kevin Murray was out injured but we scraped through by a point.’
Dohenys, without four injured players, and two suspended, were to face Kilmurry in the county final and it would be their third Sunday in a row in action. They sought a postponement but the Board refused.
Kilmurry were powered by UCC star Johnny Clifford, Denis Moss, ex-Cork player Sean Murphy and the O’Leary brothers, and had contested the 1992 final. For Dohenys Cork player Mark Farr was the power-house at midfield, along with his talented young brother Micheál and other experienced players included the Herlihy brothers, Brian and Barry, Paul Murray, Kevin Murray and Tim Buckley. In their early twenties were captain Paudie Murray, goalkeeper Kieran Farr, and ace forward Cathal Crowley, while the young talented newcomers included Dennis Lyons, brothers Conor and Finny Collins and Micheál O’Donovan.
‘Nobody gave us a chance going into this final in Bandon,’ admitted Herlihy, who was vice-captain of the side.
‘We were six players down before we kicked a ball and in the opening 15 minutes we lost Kevin Murray and Padraig Hurley through injury. But we fully believed we could win this game and maybe Kilmurry were just a bit too confident on the day. It was one of those days when we just wouldn’t accept defeat.’
The result, with Herlihy kicking two points and full back Paudie Murray having a stormer on Kilmurry danger man Johnny Clifford was an incredible 0-11 to 0-7 victory for Dohenys. Tim Buckley kicked three points and Cathal Crowley and Elton Lehane had a brace each.
‘There was some mighty celebrating after that win,’ said Herlihy.
‘Pat Mac’s was the place to be and I don’t think we saw daylight for three days afterwards. Credit to all the players who filled in for the injured players on the day, they were fantastic. We shouldn’t forget either the part played by Raymie Lyons, club chairman at the time, and James Dwyer who had brought those lads up through the underage ranks.
‘Winning that title meant we were back in senior ranks for the centenary in 1997, our target since the very start.’
The team that won the 1995 county intermediate final was Kieran Farr, Conor Collins, Paudie Murray (captain), Micheál O’Donovan, Dennis Lyons, Brian Herlihy, Paul Murray, Mark Farr, Micheál Farr, Padraig Hurley, Tim Buckley, Cathal Crowley, Finny Collins, Barry Herlihy, Kevin Murray. Subs used, Elton Lehane, Aidan O’Rourke, Conor Noonan. Suspended for the final were Stephen Mohan and John Hayden, while out injured were Henry Ross, David Lordan, Sean O’Farrell and John Galvin. Other subs included G O’Sullivan, F Collins, D Murray, J Lynch, F McCarthy, J Walsh, S Kearney, B O’Donovan, A Murray, D Kelleher, J Nyhan, M Collins. Team manager, Jerry O’Mahony; trainers, Fiona McCarthy and Ray Kelleher; selectors, John Joe Murray, Brian Herlihy, Donie McCarthy and Gerard Galvin.
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