BY KIERAN McCARTHY
IT was just the boost that the club needed at the time, says John Collins, casting his mind back on Kilmacabea’s 1982 West Cork junior 2 football final success.
After losing the previous two finals, to St Mary’s (1980) and St James’ (’81), Kilmacabea delivered on their promise in the ’82 decider against Argideen Rangers in October that year.
That team will be honoured at Kilmacabea GAA’s victory dinner dance in the Celtic Ross Hotel this Saturday night, and for Collins and Co, it’s a chance to relive an important triumph for the Leap and Glandore combination.
‘It was mighty for the club, I’d even say vital, because at the time we were struggling for numbers because of emigration,’ he explained.
‘It was important for us to win it, to keep the show on the road.
‘We lost a lot of players after that. At one stage things got so bad at home we had a team in London, there were that many young Leap players over there.’
Collins was involved in the Kilmacabea team that won the 1971 West Cork junior 2 final against Caheragh, played in January ’72, but they had to wait over a decade for more junior football success.
‘There were a good few players involved in both 1971 and ’82 because when we won the first one, a lot of us were quite young, maybe 17, 18, 19 years old,’ Collins recalled.
Current club chairman Dan Hourihane was one of those, as was his brother John (father of Republic of Ireland and Aston Villa midfielder Conor Hourihane), and so was Noel Collins, John’s brother.
By the early 80s there were plenty of brothers on that Kilmacabea team – the three Hourihanes (Kevin, Dan and John), three Collins brothers (John, TJ and Noel, the latter training the All-Ireland winning Cork hurlers of 1984 and ’86), as well as Whooleys and O’Donovans.
‘That was a good team,’ Collins said.
‘We were strong and skilful, and unique at the time because we liked to keep hold of possession.’
Kilmacabea needed all their skills on the day of the ’82 final against Argideen Rangers because the heavens opened above Rosscarbery, releasing a torrent of rain.
‘It was a dreadful day,’ Collins said.
‘It was non-stop rain all day.
‘We were very light and we were a team that played nice football – but scores were difficult to come by that day.
‘We dominated the game but we didn’t put that on the scoreboard. The ball was slippery, the ground conditions were dreadful and it rained throughout the evening.’
Looking back on The Southern Star report from that match, the reporter, Cairbre, commented: ‘… drenching rain, the worst we have experienced from a long time at a game, made really good football impossible, and also interfered with the ability of yours truly to make any worthwhile notes, so the report must be necessarily condensed.’
So, we don’t have any scorers, except from gathering that John Hourihane was deadly accurate from frees; a talent that he has passed on to his son, Conor, it seems. John’s ‘jinking runs and accuracy were invaluable,’ the match report said.
Kevin Hourihane was dominant at full back, flanked by Harry O’Leary and Pat Burke, with goalkeeper Mick Scully solid behind them. Others to be name-checked in the match report were Dan Hourihane who had ‘a storming game … and an abundance of stamina,’ Vincent Whooley, Michael O’Callaghan and TJ Collins.
Junior A football beckoned for Kilmacabea after that but they never made an impact, having to wait until last year to win that crown for the very first time – but the importance of the ’82 junior 2 success in keeping the show on the road can’t be understated.
So, as the 2017 West Cork champions are honoured at Saturday’s dinner dance, it’s fitting that the heroes of ’82 take centre stage also.
They were the men that kept the flame burning.