1934 and the Glen County

1934 and the Glen County



The year 1934 was a very important year for the Gaelic Athletic Association. It was the golden jubilee of the founding of the association on November 1st 1884. The fortunes of the GAA had ebbed and flowed throughout the first 40 years of its existence. Many of the problems which the association had encountered during that period were of outside influence such as economic difficulties, the First World War, the War of Independence and the Civil War. All these difficulties were surmounted by the mid 1920s and from then until the jubilee year, steady progress was made. It was during that time that the GAA as we know it today took shape.


The jubilee year was progressing well for the GAA. Limerick defeated Dublin in a replay to win the All-Ireland hurling championship. The combined attendance at the two finals was just over 65,000. Galway took the football title when they also defeated Dublin before an attendance 36,143. 


The Cork inter-county teams did not have a great year but there was a very lively club scene and huge public interest in all the GAA competitions. The County Senior Hurling final was played on this day 75 years ago, 7th October 1934. Cork's hurling public were eagerly looking forward to a clash which pitted one of the oldest clubs in the country against a new vibrant club which was only playing for 19 seasons.


It was the first ever clash of St Finbarrs and Glen Rovers in a senior county hurling final. Afterwards, Glen against the Barrs would go on to become one of the great club rivalries of the GAA. Glen Rovers won their first senior county hurling title that day. Obviously it was a momentous occasion for the Glen and the people of Blackpool. It was also a significant occasion for the Cork County Board and, as the subsequent years have shown, for the entire GAA.


Although it was the Glen's first title it was not entirely unexpected. In the first chapter of the 1973 book "The Spirit of the Glen" Paddy Deasy outlined the early years of the club. The club won the minor county championship (minor was open to all ages back then) in 1922 and again in 1923. They won the junior county championship in 1924, the intermediate title in 1925 before making their senior debut against Blackrock in 1926.


The Glen were well beaten by Blackrock in their first shot at the senior title in 1927. That was not surprising as Blackrock and St Finbarrs dominated Cork hurling during the 1920s. In that decade the two clubs met in four finals (winning two each) and St Finbarrs received a walkover from Blackrock in a fifth (1922).


The Glen made slow but steady progress after 1927. They had their first win in senior championship against Kinsale in the first round if the 1928 championship and reached their first county final in 1930 which they lost to Blackrock by 3-8 to 1-3. After that defeat their rating improved and they were considered serious contenders for the title at the beginning of each season. When they lost to Muskerry in the 1933 championship it was considered to be the shock of the decade. Later that year St Finbarrs defeated Carrigtwohill at the second attempt in the county final.


The Glen changed their captain at the beginning of 1934. Paddy "Fox" Collins declined to accept the honour saying that a change of captain might bring a change of luck. Joe Lee was chosen to lead the team instead. It proved to be a change of luck alright; he went on to captain the Glen to win five county titles between 1934 and 1938.


On the Friday before the county final the Cork Examiner correspondent Iomanuidhe in his "Gaelic Gossip" column speculated on the final. He was expecting a big crowd to attend.

"...the teams represent the North and South sides of the city and it will be interesting to compare next Sunday's attendance with that of a year ago. [A combined attendance of 27,000, who paid £800, saw the two games between St Finbarrs and Carrigtwohill]...I expect as well to see a fine representation form the different parts of the county. Last week the County Board had a request from the Gaels of Duhallow for a special train from Newmarket and it is hoped they will be accommodated. The Charleville area, as well as Youghal, West and Mid-Cork are assured of special transport services...the game is expected to be the most even and best contested for many years."


On the Glen's chances of success he had this to say. "There can be no doubt whatsoever that Glen Rovers deserve to occupy the post of challengers to the county honours for during the past four or five year they have been proving their worth. ...They [the Glen] played two sterling games against Mallow and Blackrock on their way to the final. I was not so much impressed by their form against Mallow or Seandun as I was the day they beat Blackrock so magnificently. On that occasion they played like a champion team."


Iomanuidhe expressed some concerns about St Finbarrs form in his comments.  


"Apart from their match against Carrigtwohill [in the semi-final] and their game in Limerick against Ahane [it is] some months since they played like champions".

He than qualified this by putting the Carrigtwohill game into context. "They appeared in their real guise against Carrigtwohill in a match that was certainly the best of this years championship contests."


When it came to calling the result he said the following. "To my mind there is little between the teams. I would more favour the chances of the Glen if the match were played at the Mardyke, where they always play so well. As it is they will be on a ground they are not so well acquainted with and may take some time to settle down...Barrs never started slowly on the Athletic Ground (now Pairc Uí Chaoímh) and I can visualise the team getting a score or two in the early stages of the match, which will be sufficient to keep them in front to the end."


The final attracted an official attendance of 18,516; however, it is estimated that there were at least another 6,000 people in the grounds. The Clare goalkeeper, Dr Tommy Daly was invited by the Cork County Board to referee the game.


As Iomanuidhe predicted, St Finbarrs made the better start and owned the ball for the first quarter of the game. The Glen had the advantage of a strong wind at this stage and it was this as well as the solid Glen defence that kept the score at 0-3 to 0-0 in favour of the Barrs. The Glen settled down and tacked on 1-2 in the second quarter. They took this two point lead into the half-time break.


The Glen played in the second half with fire in their bellies. The Barrs had the wind now, but a fine performance by "Fox" Collins kept the damage to a minimum. The Glen were ahead a point when the Barrs conceded a free. The sliotar was dropped into the goal and "Patcheen" Murphy goaled for the Glen. Some minutes later "Batna" Barrett had a second Glen goal which more or less sealed the Glen's first county.


The Cork Examiner reported the excitement among the crowd. "The Blackpool people were so overwhelmed that the spacious grounds looked too small to contain them." The scenes of joy and excitement that erupted when Dr Tommy Daly blew the full time whistle are now part of the lore of the club. When the players and supporters of the Glen finally left the Athletic Grounds, it was in a parade of side-cars and wagonettes that cheered its way along the South Mall, the Grand Parade, North Main Street over the North Gate Bridge (where a big deal was made of taking the Cup "over the Bridge" for the first time) and finally into Blackpool where the celebrations lasted for a week.


"Batna" Barrett pulled the handle of the cup in a moment of excitement but as Paddy Deasy wrote in ‘The Spirit of the Glen', "The Glen had eight years to fix it". The Glen would not taste defeat again in the Cork County Championship until the semi-final of 1942.


The victory was well received by the rest of Cork. The Cork Examiner report from the County Board meeting of October 9th said,


"Mr Nagle, St Finbarrs, said it was his duty on behalf of the St Finbarrs club to express the member's heartiest congratulations to Glen Rovers on their magnificent win last Sunday and the splendid manner in which the game was played."


County Board Chairman, Seán McCarthy said "...The [Glen] players added to their reputations and gave everyone present ...an hour's exhibition of the national pastime that was a credit to all concerned."


The Glen delegate Paddy O'Connell "expressed thanks on behalf of his club and said only for the School Shield Committee and the North Monastery, the Glen would never have had a senior club... we thank the Schools Shield Committee and the Christian Brothers of Cork."


"Iomanuidhe" summed up the county final in his column of October 12th. He said "I am satisfied Glen Rovers deserved their victory." As for the Barrs display, he had the following to say,


"For all their short comings the made a gallant finish, and threw every ounce that was in them into the last 10 minutes of the game. Their forwards lacked cleverness and penetration; otherwise they would have won the match in the first fifteen minutes when they had so much of the ball."


The Glen went from strength to strength after 1934. They won the next seven county championships, and then the Barrs won two more. In fact, the two clubs continued to pass the title from one to the other until 1951 when Sarsfields beat the Glen in the final. It is an amazing statistic that all the 19 senior hurling championships that were played between 1932 and 1950 were shared between the Glen (13) and the Barrs (6). In contrast to this, 10 different teams have won the 19 titles played since 1990.


In the greater context of the GAA' 125 anniversary celebrations this year, the Glen's win in 1934 was an important landmark because it added a new dimension to the urban rivalry of the Barrs and Blackrock in Cork City. Hurling became an instant hit in the new housing estates that were being built in Gurranebraher. The significance of this is that until the 1930s the GAA was mainly a rural organisation. If the GAA had not managed to gain a strong foothold in the cities when it did - and the Cork clubs played a significant role in this - it may not have become the strong organisation it is today.


Such studies of history were lost on the people of Blackpool on October 7th 1934 however, when the shout finally went through the country that the Glen had won the "county". And unlike what the old song says, at 6 o'clock that Sunday much more than a goat broke loose upon the ‘Prade. The teams that played that day were

Glen Rovers; M Casey, J Corkery, T Kiely, D.M. Dorgan, J Burke, P O'Connell, P "Fox" Collins, P Dowling, J Lee (Capt.) W Hyland, C Buckley, P Murphy, P Dorgan, B Barrett, W O'Driscoll. Subs E Carroll for J Burke (inj)

St Finbarrs; J Buttimer, D Lynch, M O'Connor, E Kingston, J Horgan, J O'Sullivan, T Vaughan, M O'Connell, P Corcoran, G Kenneally, D.B. Murphy, J Lehane, P. P. Murphy, W Stanton.

Final Score Glen Rovers 3-2, St Finbarrs 0-6.


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