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The Dohenys v Newcestown rivalry is all about pride in your local place and putting one over the neighbours

November 11th, 2023 10:57 AM

By Tom Lyons

The Dohenys v Newcestown rivalry is all about pride in your local place and putting one over the neighbours Image
The Dohenys team that were crowned South-West Cork and county junior A champions in 1966.

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TOM LYONS explains what makes the Dohenys v Newcestown rivalry so special



SO what has the 1960s got to do with Saturday’s Bon Secours Senior A FC final, you might well ask? 

Nothing and everything. 

Nothing, because the players who will decide the destination of the senior A football title are a hundred light years away from the players who wore the jerseys so gloriously 60 years ago. Everything, because the massive hype surrounding this clash between great rivals Dohenys and Newcestown is founded firmly on the deeds of former generations of players who gave their all for the green and white and the red and yellow. 

On their broad, proud shoulders stand the present generation of players who will line out on Saturday evening in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. That the amazing pride and spirit both clubs possess in abundance includes a wonderful rivalry between them, makes this final a must-watch, must-attend event. 

To truly understand the great rivalry that exists between the clubs, we must go back to the early 1960s, to 1964 in fact. Dohenys, coming off the back of four in-a-row of South West junior titles, could rightly claim to be the kings of the castle in West Cork, bar Clonakilty, the only senior club in the division at that time. O’Donovan Rossa briefly threatened to interrupt Dohenys’ reign but that rivalry ended up in the board rooms in 1964 – the infamous Ned Roche case – and as both clubs slugged each other senseless with words, a new power was emerging. Newcestown, only five years in existence, grabbed their chance and won their first junior A title. 

The Newcestown team crowned South-West Cork and county junior A football champions and South-West junior A hurling champions in 1967.


Rossas imploded after the Ned Roche case, out of the limelight for the following decade, but Dohenys re-organised, determined to put these usurpers from ‘somewhere near Bandon’ back in their box. This they appeared to do when, in the 1965 final, a tempestuous affair in the rain and mud in Clonakilty, Newcestown were limited to a single goal and Dohenys, including a ‘Young’ lad named Eamon with an All-Ireland medal from 1945 in his back pocket, reclaimed their rightful place as champions. 

Or so they thought, but these newcomers from Newcestown had other ideas. 

Led by the famous Kehily clan, the Collinses, the Cahalanes, the O’Sheas, the O’Hallorans, the O’Callaghans and the Callanans, they came back stronger than ever in 1966. They met in Bandon in a final that has become legendary in the annals of West Cork GAA. There was certainly no love lost, no punches pulled. Dohenys, maybe still suffering from the county final defeat the previous year, or just over-confident, were played off the pitch for 50 minutes by a superb Newcestown team, playing class football. It was the closing ten minutes that set this final apart, a ferocious free-for-all in the gathering dusk and two late goals by Dohenys to snatch the famed Little Norah Cup from the grasp of the Newcestown men. Delight, heartbreak and the intensifying of a great rivalry. 

Dohenys, led by the Youngs, the Farrs, the Carrolls, the Crowleys and the Lyonses, went on to win the county, upgrading to intermediate, but not to be outdone, and anxious to get at their arch-enemy again, Newcestown followed them every step of the way in 1967, winning their first county title. 

We remember with pride the ferocious intermediate league clashes between the sides as we took part in many of them. Like the day Dohenys had a rare win in Newcestown, both sides treating their home venues as fortresses, and a Doheny supporter shouted at the Newcestown supporters, ‘We bate ye in Dunmanway, we bate ye in Bandon and now we bate ye under the steeple of St John.’ 


In 1971 it looked as if the dream final would materialise when both sides reached opposite semi-finals. Newcestown did the needful, beating Cobh, but Dohenys lost to the Barr’s. Kevin Kehily led Newcestown to a great final win over the city boys and Dohenys were left licking their wounds. However, in the reverse of 1966/67, Dohenys immediately followed Newcestown as intermediate champions in 1972 and their clashes were now in the top grade of football in the county. 

The old brigade who had begun the great rivalry were now disappearing from the scene and maybe some of the intense rivalry went with them. But not for long as it resurrected itself again in the late 1980s. By then both clubs had slipped back into junior football ranks, their rightful home in West Cork. It was again all about pride and who was the best as the sides clashed in the South West final in jam-packed Rossmore in 1990, all the old rivalry on full display. 

Thankfully, this time the rivalry confined itself to football and it was honours even as a cracking contest ended all square. Dohenys’ boast that Newcestown had never beaten them in the championship was still intact, but it was well and truly shattered in the replay when a rampant Newcestown lashed in four goals and went on to win the county. It took Dohenys a couple of years to recover from that one but in 1993 they followed their great rivals to county junior glory. Once again, the great rivalry between the sides had inspired both to ultimate honours. 

The teams have gone their own way in the intervening years, meeting in various competitions and how stands the rivalry now? Just ask the new generation of players who opposed each other in the first round this season in Rossmore. A teak-tough battle, no quarter asked or given, went right down to the wire, Dohenys snatching victory with an injury-time 45. The thirst for revenge for that one will undoubtedly be used to spur on the Newcestown side this weekend. The rivalry now may not be the type of fire and brimstone we witnessed in the 1960s but guaranteed, not an inch will be given, not a step backwards, as the present players fight for supremacy on Sunday. 

Between Dohenys and Newcestown it has never really been about winning titles but about pride in the local place, passion on the pitch and delight in putting one over on their great rivals. Long may it continue and our wish is that Saturday’s eagerly-awaited final will add lustre to the great story that is the rivalry between two of Carbery’s greatest clubs, Dohenys and Newcestown. 

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