1991. What a year for St Fachtna’s de la Salle as the Skibbereen school won Munster (Corn Uí Mhuirí) and All-Ireland (Hogan Cup) senior ‘A’ football honours. 25 years on from those halcyon days Kieran McCarthy set out of find out ‘what happened next’ to the 20 footballers who put this famous West Cork GAA nursery on the map
TIME stands still for no man, not even for the heroic St Fachtna’s footballers of 1991.
It’s 25 years since those magical days when the Skibbereen school won its third – and, as it has transpired, final – Munster colleges’ senior ‘A’ football title, otherwise known as the Corn Uí Mhuirí.
That was a very special year for St Fachtna’s.
The school had previously won the Corn Uí Mhuirí in 1982 and 1990, but the class of ’91 took it on a step further – by winning the school’s first, and only, Hogan Cup title.
This summer, St Fachtna’s, Rossa College and Mercy Heights will amalgamate to form Skibbereen Community School.
It’s an exciting time for Skibbereen secondary-school goers, but it’s also tinged with sadness as St Fachtna’s, that famous nursery for West Cork GAA, will close its doors for the final time later this year.
It also means that St Fachtna’s will never again win a Corn Uí Mhuirí title, and that the young men of 1991 will stay in the record books as the last football team from the school to be crowned young kings of Munster, and then Ireland.
A band of brothers in every sense, this was an exceptional Fachtna’s team whose roots can be traced back to the Corn Uí Mhuirí winning team of 1990 – they beat North Mon in the Munster final before losing the All-Ireland semi-final to St Jarlath’s of Tuam (1-13 to 1-8).
Survivors of the 1989/90 campaign were Kevin O’Dwyer, Sean Crowley, Mike Kingston, Paul Harrington, Pat Hegarty, Mike McCarthy, Paul O’Rourke, Noel Crowley, Fachtna Collins, Neville Murphy, Aidan Glavin, Brendan Minihane and Donal McCarthy, so there was a strong platform for coaches John Brady and Joe O’Neill (and Con Kelleher, school caretaker at the time, was also involved) to build on in the 1990/91 season.
Victories against Carrignavar (2-11 to 0-7), Killorglin (4-10 to 2-3), Chríost Rí (3-12 to 3-7) and North Mon (1-11 to 0-6) in the Munster semi-final setup a provincial final against St Brendan’s College of Killarney. Goals from Neville Murphy and Aidan Glavin helped in a 2-13 to 2-8 win at Carrigadrohid in mid March 1990.
This football jigsaw – a winning combination of Skibbereen, Caheragh, Leap, Castlehaven, Drimoleague, Ballydehob and so on, with a dash of Cavan magic – came together at the right time, and the end result that year was an All-Ireland final triumph (2-9 to 0-7) against St Patrick’s of Navan on that glorious day in Croke Park.
Now, 25 years on, we look at what these Fachtna’s heroes achieved next in sport and in life.
Kevin O’Dwyer (O’Donovan Rossa): The St Fachtna’s shot-stopper (and captain in 1991) was between the posts for both the 1990 and ’91 Corn Uí Mhuirí final wins, as well as the Hogan Cup victory in ’91. He went on to win All-Ireland titles at minor (1991) and U21 (1994) with Cork before going on to be the county’s number one at senior level (making his league debut in ’92), winning five Munster titles as well as an All-Star award in 1999 – the year Cork lost the All-Ireland SFC final to Meath. At club level he was between the posts for the Rossas’ first-ever Cork SFC final win in 1992 (v Nemo Rangers) and the famous 1993 All-Ireland club final triumph (v Éire Óg) and the ’94 county final draw and replay loss to Castlehaven. Now living in Cullen, where he moved to in the early noughties – around the same time he finished with Cork – he transferred to the local GAA club and helped them win a Duhallow championship (they lost the county semi-final). He works as a garda in Millstreet Garda Station, and trains the Duarigle Gaels (Cullen/Millstreet underage amalgamation), and his sons are involved in underage GAA.
James Kingston (Tadhg MacCarthaigh): The youngest member of St Fachtna’s 1991 team, he was only 15 and a third year student at the time. He’s now living in Nenagh and working as a garda. Kingston played minor football with Cork and won both Munster and All-Ireland medals in ’93. He won five West Cork JAFC medals with Caheragh (1995, ’97, ’02, ’04 and ’06), and also won a county minor football title in 1991, as well as numerous underage titles. He also played rugby.
Sean Crowley (Kilmacabea): Brother of teammate and full forward Noel Crowley, full back Sean was one of the back-to-back winning Corn Uí Mhuirí players, having started in the full-back line in both 1990 and ’91, and a Hogan Cup win followed in ’91. Sean was on the periphery of the Cork minor panels in both ’91 and ’92. Now based in Nenagh where he runs a nursing home with his wife, he enjoyed club success as well – winning back-to-back West Cork U21 B titles in 1991 and ’92, as well as being part of the club’s 1994 West Cork and county junior B winning adventure. Not only that, but he played for Munster in a Combined Rules International against Australia in Killarney in 1991.
Donal McCarthy (O’Donovan Rossa): The current bank manager at TSB in Skibbereen, he missed out on the 1992/93 Rossas adventure but he was involved as a sub in the ’94 county final replay – a loss to Castlehaven. He had Cork minor trials and went on to play for well over a decade with the club. As well as that, McCarthy managed the Skibb senior team for a few seasons, around 2009 and 2010. He’s currently involved in coaching the Skibb U10s. Back in his Fachtna’s days, he was involved with both the 1990 and ’91 Corn Uí Mhuirí winning teams.
Michael Kingston (Tadhg MacCarthaigh): He was one of the back-to-back winning Corn Uí Mhuirí heroes, being involved in both the 1990 and ’91 seasons. Living locally and working as a GP in Bantry, Kingston played minor football with Cork and won a Munster championship medal in 1992, but Cork lost the All-Ireland semi-final to Meath. He also won five West Cork JAFC titles with Caheragh (1995, ’97, ’02, ’04 and ’06), and was captain of the 2004 team. Currently, Kingston is an U21 selector with Caheragh, and is also the club doctor.
Enda O’Regan (Gabriel Rangers): What a year he chose to repeat his Leaving Certificate at St Facthna’s, as in his only year at the Skibb school he won both Corn Uí Mhuirí and Hogan Cup titles. He went on to play four years of Sigerson Cup football with UL, where he graduated as a PE and chemistry teacher – and he now teaches in Presentation Brothers College in Cork city (and helps out with coaching) and lives in Togher. Enda played with St Judes in Dublin for two years before returning to Gabriels, but injuries hampered him. He also coached Gabriels for a spell.
Paul Harrington (Leap): With two Corn Uí Mhuirí titles to show from his time at the school, as well as a Hogan Cup, Harrington went on to play Freshers’ and intermediate football with UCC, as well as playing with the Garda team for a spell during his time in Dublin. He also won West Cork and county junior B honours with Kilmacabea in 1994. These days he lives in Watergrasshill and works as a Project Manager at Tyco, which is now based in the city.
Pat Hegarty (Tadhg MacCarthaigh): Part of a formidable midfield partnership with Fachtna Collins in 1991, Hegarty was instrumental in the Corn Uí Mhuirí final win against St Brendan’s; he also scored a point that day. Hegarty also started in the 1990 Munster colleges win against North Mon. He went on to enjoy a distinguished career in the Rebel red – he played minor football for Cork in 1991, winning both Munster and All-Ireland medals and he followed this up in 1994 with Munster and All-Ireland medals at U21 level. Hegarty also played senior football for Cork, and he won a Cork SFC medal with Carbery in 2004. Now living near Glanmire and working as a garda, Hegarty also won five West Cork JAFC titles with Caheragh (1995, ’97, ’02, ’04 and ’06), and was captain of the 1997 team. He won a minor county championship in 1991 and has many underage titles to his name.
Fachtna Collins (Ilen Rovers): With two Corn Uí Mhuirí medals in his collection in 1990 and ’91, and a Hogan Cup too, Collins also won an All-Ireland minor medal in 1991, an All-Ireland junior in ’93 and an All-Ireland U21 in ’94, before captaining UCD to Sigerson Cup glory in 1996. Here’s one for the lovers of facts – Fachtna marked his brother Chris (UCC) in that ’96 Sigerson final, a rare occurrence. He went on to play senior with Cork for a couple of seasons in the late 1990s and early noughties, coming on as a sub in the 1999 All-Ireland SFC final loss to Meath. Collins won West Cork junior medals with Ilen, a county junior medal in 2001, Cork and Munster intermediate medals in 2003, before landing an All-Ireland intermediate crown in ’04. Ilen lost the 2007 Cork SFC final to Nemo. What’s more, he is still going strong as he was on the Ilen team that won the West Cork junior D football championship in 2015 and indications are he will be back again this season. He works locally as a vet and lives at Church Cross.
Aidan Glavin (Kilmacabea): Part of the 1990 Munster winning Fachtna’s squad, the Leap man – who scored 1-1 in the 1991 Corn Uí Mhuirí final against St Brendan’s College – went on to college in UCC where he lost an All-Ireland Freshers’ final in 1992 and was on the college panel that won the 1995 Sigerson Cup. He also lined out with UCD. Also played junior B and junior A hurling with Randal Óg and won a junior B county in 1992. Aidan won a county junior B with Kilmacabea in 1994. Now living in Bandon, he works as a Fire Prevention Officer with Cork County Fire Service, which is based in Ballincollig. He also coaches underage with Bandon GAA.
Michael McCarthy (Tadhg MacCarthaigh): Top scorer in the 1991 Munster semi-final win against North Mon with six frees, McCarthy scored 0-4 against St Brendan’s in the final itself, while the season before he kicked 0-5 (4f) in the Corn Uí Mhuirí final win against North Mon. McCarthy played minor football with Cork and won a Munster championship medal in 1992. He also won five West Cork JAFC medals with Caheragh (1995, ’97, ’02, ’04 and ’06), and a minor county title in 1991 as well as many underage titles. He also won an All-Ireland football medal with Darrara Agricultural College in 1993. He was a junior football selector with the club for a number of years.
Paul O’Rourke (Clann na nGael): Now well known for running popular bars in Cork City like The Washington Inn and The Courthouse Tavern, O’Rourke – living in Ballinhassig – played for both his native Drimoleague and Bantry Blues, where he won two senior county titles (1995 and ’98). He also won a West Cork junior B and county title with Clann na nGael in 2006. Paul won All-Ireland minor (1991) and U21 (1994) titles with Cork – both wins coming against Mayo. A used sub in the 1990 Corn Uí Mhuirí final win against North Mon, he started in the forwards against St Brendan’s a year later, and kicked a point, while he went on to score 1-2 in the Hogan Cup final against St Patrick’s in Croke Park.
Brian Collins (Castlehaven): The current senior selector with Castlehaven played minor (won a Munster championship in 1992), junior, U21 (was part of the county panel that won ’94 All-Ireland U21) and senior football with Cork – but he was then rocked by a cruciate injury against Clare in 1996. Collins went on to win two Cork SFC titles with the club (centre back v Skibb in 1994 and a sub v Clonakilty in 2003) and he was full back in ’97 when Haven lost to Beara in the county final replay. He captained Castlehaven to the 1997 Munster club SFC title. A second cruciate injury, to his other knee, in 2001 was the beginning of the end and he finished up playing in 2004. Collins was involved in the Haven management team when the club won the Cork SFC in 2012. He works as an accountant with Collins Cronin Twomey based in Innishannon, and lives in Dunderrow and helps out training with the Kinsale underage girls’ GAA teams.
Noel Crowley (Kilmacabea): The man who went on to score 1-3 in the 1991 Hogan Cup final, and who kicked 1-3 in the 1990 Corn Uí Mhuirí decider and 0-2 in the ’91 Munster colleges’ final success, only hung up his boots last year, having lined out with the Leap junior C team. At inter-county level, he played with the Cork juniors in 1998, while at club level he was on the Kilmacabea team that won West Cork and county titles at junior B in 1994. There were also local U21 B (1991 and ’92) and junior A league (2007) successes. Currently, he lives in Mayfield and works as a purchaser with Sorensen Civil Engineering.
Neville Murphy (O’Donovan Rossa): A sub in the 1990 Corn Uí Mhuirí final win against North Mon, he scored 1-2 a year later as the Skibb school defeated St Brendan’s. Current Mayor of Dunmore East (where he now lives with his family), former Cork minor triallist Murphy was corner forward on the O’Donovan Rossa team that won the club’s first (and only) Cork SFC title in 1992, and subsequent Munster and All-Ireland club crowns in an unforgettable spell. Work took him away from Skibbereen in the mid 1990s and while he did play some football with the Army, he never hit the heights of the early 90s. He currently works as a winchman with the Coast Guard Helicopter. In fact, a few years back he landed the helicopter at St Fachtna’s GAA pitch, and brought the local primary school to see it.
Liam Hurley (O’Donovan Rossa): He regards the 1991 Corn Uí Mhuirí and Hogan Cup successes as the peak of his career, as while he did get to a few West Cork finals with Skibb, luck never favoured this former Rossas senior. Working at Hurley’s Garage on Ilen Street, he is still heavily involved in Skibb underage GAA, and is a regular on the Fachtna’s team that heads west to Dingle for the annual Tommy Murphy Over 35’s Tournament.
Brendan Minihane (O’Donovan Rossa): Part of the 1990 and ’91 Corn Uí Mhuirí winning teams, as well as the triumphant Hogan Cup success, Brendan started the Munster semi-final win in ’91. He went on to play U21, junior and senior with Skibb and was involved in underage boys and girls’ coaching with the club. He now works as a civil engineer with Cork County Council and is based locally in Skibbereen.
Ian O’Regan (O’Donovan Rossa): One of several Rossas footballers from that team still involved with the underage coaching in Skibbereen, O’Regan went on to play minor, U21 and junior football with the club after his Fachtna’s days. He went to college in UCC, and now works as a Civil Engineer with Cork County Council, and he’s based in Skibbereen.
Kevin Crowley (Kilmacabea): Now based in London where he works as a consultant and statistical programmer, the 1990/91 season with Fachtna’s was as good as it got for the Leap man, who did play some junior football with his club afterwards. When Crowley went to college (UL), he drifted from football, but he still looks back on ’91 as ‘an incredible year to be part of’.
Gerard O’Callaghan (Castlehaven): Football after St Fachtna’s saw Gerard play U21 and junior with Castlehaven. He played junior 3 up until four years ago. He now lives in Bandon where he helps out locally with the underage GAA club, and he works at Tile Haven with his brother, Vivian.