Coláiste Iognaid Rís/ Deerpark CBS

Words and images courtesy of Plunkett Carter.

It was in 1918 that the Harty Cup was presented for competition by the Archbishop of Cashel and was 32 years in existence before Sullivan’s Quay CBS had the opportunity to compete. Sullivan’s Quay’s entry into senior colleges competitions in 1950 coincided with their students sitting the Leaving Cert Examination for the first time. Prior to this Quay took students only as far as Inter Cert standard resulting in pupils concluding their second level education at their mother school North Mon or, in some cases, Farranferris. An educational report commissioned earlier that century lauded Sully Quay boys, stating

There is one thing about Sullivan’s Quay boys - they have a way with them, a spirit peculiarly their own….. When the senior boys of the school are sent to Our Lady’s Mount to continue their studies in the higher grades, they are found to be the best of the best there.

Deerpark Harty Cup winners 1975
Deerpark CBS the Harty Cup winners of 1975.

By the time Sully’s Quay entered the Harty, North Mon had already won the trophy ten times and did so with the help of players like Mossie O’Riordan, Gerry O’Riordan, Bernie Murphy and Mick Kenefick, who in different circumstances could have been wearing the black and amber of the Quay. Legendary Quay hurler and soccer International Miah Lynch never got a chance to play in the Harty while his contemporary Owen Madden, who played with Birmingham and Norwich and perhaps best remembered as a member of the all conquering Cork Utd team of the forties, transferred to the North Mon where he became the great Jack Lynch’s midfield partner. Tony O‘Shaughnessy was another Quay boy who wore the blue and white of the Mon and led them in Harty Cup battles. 

In earlier times Sullivan’s Quay regularly featured in Munster and Cork secondary schools competitions and recorded victories in under 15 hurling and 16 football, winning a Provincial junior title in 1929 when Paddy Parfrey, later CEO of the VEC, and Charlie Perrot wore their colours. They made their debut in the 1950 Harty Competition and were beaten in the first round by St Colman’s (holders). The following year they reversed that decision when beating the Fermoy college in the opening game before going on to see off the challenge of previous years finalists Midleton CBS.  Most observers acknowledge that this was a promising beginning but had sympathy for the Quay when they were drawn to play North Mon, favourites for the trophy, in the semi-final.  However, they stunned the critics and created a sensation when beating the north side king pins. Their one point victory in a low scoring game, 1-3 to 1-2, sent shock waves reverberating throughout the province. One of the Quay stars in a dour struggle on a heavy Cork Athletic Ground sod was future hurling great Jimmy Brohan. Jimmy attended the Sullivan’s QuaySchool during the war years of the early forties.  He remembers playing hurling and football from an early age with them and also played in the famous Dr. Harty Cup competition for four consecutive years, in goal for the first two and later as a back. 

Jimmy played full forward on the side that shocked the Mon and scored the winning point from about 30 yards out just before the final whistle. Sullivan’s Quay were led by Jerry Coffey (later Bishop of Sale, Victoria, Australia) who played on the Cork minor side which defeated Galway in the All-Ireland final. Among those playing for the North Monastery that day was Johnny Clifford, captain of that victorious Cork minor team, who later scored the winning goal in the 1954 All-Ireland Senior Final. Johnny was one of nine Cork minors on the defeated Mon team and to this day he cannot fathom how such a star studded team could be held to such a low score. This was a complete shock at the time, the Mon team included half of the Cork minor panel which later won the 1951 All-Ireland,” recalled Johnny. In Michael Finn’s excellent production The Quay - Memories of Sullivan’s Quay CBS 1828-2006, musician and entertainer Frank Duggan recalled the tumultuous scenes which greeted the final whistle

To everyone’s amazement - players included I’d imagine - we won the day. I can still see Br Frawley as the final whistle blew jubilantly throwing his cap in the air. There was a rush of exultant young lads towards him, and in the melee that hat was trampled into the mud.

The victory even inspired a verse of the Sully Quay Anthem
Cheer, cheer, cheer for Sully’s Quay boys
Cheer, cheer for victory
We have the Mon boys on the run as we did in fifty one
And we’ll bring the Harty Cup to Sullivan’s Quay

Well, they didn’t bring the Harty to Sullivan’s Quay but they put up a mighty struggle before giving best to the star studded holders Thurles CBS in front of a record crowd in Kilmallock.The Examiner paid the following tribute to both teams the game reflected the highest credit on both teams and there is every prospect of many of the players on both sides making good for their counties in senior ranks later on thus maintaining the great tradition of this Harty Cup competition. Thurles keeper J. McLoughney broke the heart of Sully’s Quay with some extraordinary saves - saves that would have done credit even to Tony Reddan.  He denied the diminutive Tim Cronin on several occasions and stopped a rasper from Jim Brohan. The Quay were behind 3-2 to 0-1 at the break and after Tony Wall added another point for Thurles, Brohan with a point and Barry O’Mahony a beautiful goal reduced the deficit to seven points. The turning point in the game arrived in the 50th minute when Tom Murphy burst through to billow McLoughney’s net but the referee, not allowing the advantage, had blown for an infringement and when Brohan’s resultant 21 yard free was blocked by a massed defence, Sully’s Quay’s “goose was cooked”. Thurles, fighting like demons, hung on to win 3-5 to 1-2. Sullivan’s Quay: D Dunlea, S Coughlan, J Fitzgibbon, E O’Connell, E Bowe, J Coffey, D Mulcahy, D Canton, T Murphy, J Sullivan, F Woods, T Cronin, M Jackson, J Brohan, F O’Mahony.

As for the Examiner’s crystal ball gazing! Seven years later Thurles star Tony Wall went on to become the first recipient of the Texaco Hurler of the Year award; Paddy Croke was an All-Ireland finalist with Dublin; Quay boy Jimmy Brohan was sub on the side which beat Wexford in 1954 and then went on win every honour in the game, being chosen on the Ireland team five times between ’57 and ‘62. 

Quay teams went on to take great heart from the valiant efforts of the ’51 Harty finalists and, whilst failing to make a significant breakthrough, were great competitors throughout the fifties. One of the better sides was the team of ‘55 who included Micky Leahy and Barry Studdart and who exited at the penultimate stage but provided four players - George Allan, Dinny McDonell, Denis O’Callaghan and John O’Neill - to the Munster team which won the All-Ireland Inter Provincial trophy. Other well known stars on that victorious Munster team were Jimmy Doyle, Ray Reidy and Noel Lynam.  Quay sides, inspired by the brilliant Derry O’Driscoll and Ollie O’Brien, rarely had reason to celebrate; and for guys like Pat O’Sullivan, Steve Hegarty, Billy Webster and Billy George, so accustomed to glory in their national school days, the well had run dry. As the fifties ended enthusiasm was not easily sustained and the Quay’s brave efforts, spearheaded by lads like Jerh O’Leary, continued to be littered with gallant failures.

Expectations were raised when the most prodigious young talent ever to grace Scoil Nessan, Charlie McCarthy, transferred across from the national school. Charlie became a prince of hurlers and the sweetest of talents to appear in a Cork jersey in over a decade; even in his schooldays he was the darling of the terraces but still he could not wave a magic wand and bring a Harty to the Quay. In his first year in secondary, while still eligible for u14, he made his Harty debut. They surprised many by reaching the semi-final in 1961 only to be beaten by Thurles CBS when, apart from young Charlie, players like Paddy O’Brien, Brendan Dalton, Finbarr Hill and Harry Dowling were prominent. Barrs minors Liam Dunne, Denis O’Connell, Liam Hodnett and Brendan Kenneally were always fighting a losing battle against teams of the calibre of North Mon, Flannan’s, Limerick and Thurles.  

The team of ‘62 made an inglorious exit in the opening round but did have the consolation of a Munster Colleges Dr Rodger’s Cup victory which is Charlie’s only souvenir of Colleges GAA. When Cork bridged a 12 year gap in winning the McCarthy Cup in 1966 there were three Quay boys, Charlie Mac, Tony Connolly and Jerh O’Leary on the panel. Charlie collected his fifth McCarthy Cup medal when captaining the 3-in-a-row side in 1978; while other Quay boys, John Horgan (his third), Eamon O’Donoghue (his second) and Tom Cashman and Dermot McCurtain  both won the second of four. Earlier that day another outstanding Sullivan’s Quay ambassador Ger Cunningham won a minor medal before going on later to win three McCarthy Cup medals.  

In 1964 a promising crop of players enrolled and, after winning the Corn Ui Brún in 1967, went on a year later to bring the Dr Cohalan Cup to the school for the first time (being  headlined in the Examiner as  St Nessan’s), defeating Seanie O’Leary’s St Colman’s. After retaining the Corn An Uachtarain (Munster Colleges Senior “B” Football title) they were headlined as Sullivan’s Quay and from that year on they became known as Deerpark CBS or Colaiste Iognáid Rís - it would confuse a barrack of soldiers! Some of the youngsters responsible for the little double-double in ’67 and ’68 included Johnny Rothwell, Eamon O’Donoghue, Tom Creagh, Pat Casey, Sean Canty, Sean Collins, Sean Scanlon, Barry Murphy, Paul Ryan, Tom Barry and Declan Ryan. However, in the competition that mattered, the Harty Cup, no progress was reported and they were outclassed by eventual champions Chriost Rí who went on to win the trophy. 

The 70’s were heralded in with a confidence-boosting win in the Simcox Cup football competition and the hurlers, captained by goalie Tim Murphy who had been well supported all year by Andy Creagh, Paul O’Sullivan, Daithí McCarthy, Pat Healy and Tony Goulding came out of the Harty campaign with great credit after putting up a brave fight in the semi final against eventual champions Farna. 

The appointment in 1971 of Cork Gaelic football star Billy Morgan as teacher and physical training instructor brought about an amazing change in the fortunes of Sullivan’s Quay. Naturally the footballers, the poor relations in terms of popularity, reaped enormous benefits but every sports minded organisation in Deerpark gained from his expertise. Employing the training techniques learned while taking his diploma at London’s Strawberry Hill, Billy brought a new dimension and physical approach to the school’s teams. Progress was gradual; Iognáid Rís were fortunate in the early 70’s that a group of talented athletes who had learned the basics in Bord na nÓg competitions came together and, along with Billy and the coaching staff  Frank Nolan, George Allan and Seamus Keating, defined a decade. 

Good performances in the Dean Ryan and Frewen Cups were always a traditional prerequisite for any team with Harty or Corn Ui Mhuirí ambitions and the Quay boys signified a readiness to be classed as serious contenders with victories in the Dean Ryan (’74) and Frewen (’73). ‘Like the Phoenix rising from the ashes’ the Quay emerged as a football force (no surprise here with Morgan as coach) to be reckoned with. “They came from the wings to dominate the centre of the stage in ’74, but the final curtain brought no joy”, wrote Michael Ellard in the Examiner. Leading St Brendan’s by four points with 11 minutes remaining they failed to hammer home their superiority and endured the agony of defeat. For captain Gene Desmond, unerring marksman Richie Kenny and the brilliant Don McCarthy it was heartbreak; but for many of the others, all still eligible for another year, the experience gained would lead to double compensation. 

Helped by the fact that a few stalwarts decided to repeat the Leaving Cert, including inspirational captain Theo Cullinane, the Quay were quietly confident of compensating for the previous year even though they faced another Kingdom school, Tralee CBS (who had earlier inflicted an18 point defeat on them) in the final. Here’s how Michael Ellard summed up after the day of reckoning:

Colaiste Iognáid Rís are sitting on top of the world this morning, masters of all they survey, because at Bruff yesterday the heroic representatives of the Cork college, known familiarly to generations of pupils as Sullivan’s Quay, were crowned kings of Munster Colleges football for the first time in their 147 year history when they pipped Tralee CBS by a single point in a momentous final. Scenes of unprecedented enthusiasm and emotion greeted their golden moment of triumph marking the burial forever of decades of heartbreak and frustration. It was a moment of joy to savour, and yet before the cherished dream was finally realised Iognáid Rís were forced to dangle precariously on a tight-rope of uncertainty.

Very little can be added to this descriptive report except to say that the entire Iognáid Rís panel, plus coach Billy Morgan and his assistant Frankie Nolan, subsequently deserved to have their names emblazoned in glory in the sporting annals of their (not Billy’s) alma mater. For the record Billy Collins kicked 1-8 of their 1-11 tally. 

On St Patrick’s Day 1975, while Iognáid Rís were in Semple Stadium seeking Harty Cup history, Billy Morgan who had helped Georgie Allan and Seamus Keating with training was in Croke Park where Nemo failed narrowly to win their second All-Ireland Club title. UCD ruined Billy’s day but neighbours Barr’s continued Cork’s dominance in hurling when beating Fenian’s, Kilkenny with the help of a magnificent performance from his “majesty” JBM who destroyed the great Pat Henderson. There were no mobile phones then so groups could be seen at both venues huddled around transistor radios awaiting news from matches where other members of families were engaged. The news from the “home of hurling” was great and Michael Ellard thundered as much when he summed up on the following morning’s Cork Examiner

Colaiste Iognáid Rís, endowed with the Midas touch this season, scaled the summit of achievement at Semple Stadium yesterday when they clipped the wings of Limerick CBS in no uncertain manner to win the Harty Cup for the first time, and in the process of creating history, became the third college to accomplish the Munster senior double. …….Shining resplendently the Cork college got the bit between their teeth from the off and rarely looked in serious trouble. They conjured up five magnificent goals, and though brave Limerick fought gallantly for survival the outcome was seldom in doubt.

Jim Murphy who contributed 3-1, along with Theo Cullinane, taunted and tormented Limerick up front all afternoon. Inspirational captain Terry Howard was worth a lot more than just his two goals while Paul Crowley and Billy Collins were majestic in midfield. Player of the season Dermot McCurtain turned in another solid hour while Damian Philpott put the shackles on Limerick danger man Ciarán Carey. The full back line of Falvey, Walsh and Murphy held the much vaunted Limerick danger line to just one point. As for the others, Bernard Dooley, Jim Barry, Tom Beckett, Liam O’Sullivan, and Alan Lotty, all played well as did young Creagh when introduced for the injured Lotty. Coach Georgie Allan, who in his own playing days with the Quay never enjoyed much success and won two Fitzgibbon Cup medals with UCC, shed tears of joy as did assistant Seamus Keating. One elated official remarked I feel sorry for the young fellas coming up, they will have to listen to a lot about this team for the next twenty years. There was to be no joy in the All-Ireland series but that did not in any way dilute the magnificent achievements of  a remarkable group of players and dedicated back-room team who, surely, had generations of old Quay boys and brothers who had gone to their eternal reward celebrating up above with St Nessan!

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