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1897 - Dohenys reach the All Ireland Senior Final

This page contains information on the progress on the Doheny Senior footballers who reached the 1897 All Ireland Final. This year was one of the proudest ever known by the Gaels of Dunmanway, saw the team at the peak of their form, bring the County Senior Football Championship to Dunmanway for the first and, so far, only time. Not content with this splendid achievement they swept through Munster, qualifying to play Kickhams in the All-Ireland Final at Jones' Road. 
County First Round
In their opening championship game Dohenys faced Cloyne at Cork Park with many people predicting a repeat of the previous year's incidents. However, the level of sportsmanship throughout was excellent, with Dohenys being well on top, winning by 3-9 to 0-1.
County Second Round
Against Killeagh in the next round, Dohenys trailed by 1-3 to 0-0 at half-time having played against the strong wind. They scored 3 points in quick succession after the break, but the game ended in controversy when Killeagh, disputing a decision of the referee, walked off the'field, and the referee awarded the game to Dunmanway.
County Quarter Final
Their next game, against Canovee, was also a controversial one. The match was a well contested one with both teams appearing in good form, fighting out the issue manfully. Dohenys led by 0-4 to 0-0 at half time but Canovee drew level in the second half and registered the winner just before full time. The final score was Canovee 0-5, Dohenys 0-4.

Dohenys subsequently objected to Canovee, the County Board upheld the objection, and Dohenys went forward to meet Aghada in the County semi-final.
County Semi Final
In this game they had a convincing 2-6 to 1-3 victory to qualify for the County final for the first time in their history.
County Final
Their opponents in the County final were Wolfe Tones of Kanturk, who had overcome Fermoy, Lees, Nils and O'Briens, and were generally regarded as favourites. But Dohenys were never better than on the big occasion, having little respect for impressive reputations.

The game aroused great excitement in the town with a special train, fare 1/6, carrying 600 supporters to Cork. Many other forms of transport were also used. It is told that one famous local character named Dan Murray, known as Dan the Blaster, left Dunmanway on Friday night, and walked all the way to Cork to support the team. His friends are reputed to have smuggled him home on the train. Others, such as Florrie Riach, thought nothing of walking all the way home again.

The final was played in Cork Park on Oct. 3rd. Dohenys' fifth visit to the city in the Championship. The game was played in a welter of excitement before 10,000 spectators, the largest crowd yet seen at a County final. Crowd control was difficult and the game, which started at 5 minutes to 2, did not end until 10 minutes to 4, due to encroachments onto the field. When the final whistle blew the sides were tied with Kanturk scoring 0-4, and Dunmanway 1-1. Thomas Crowley scored the goal, with Captain, Dan O'Donovan notching the point. In the defence, Jim Fuller, Danny Hayes and Paddy Lordan were outstanding.
County Final Replay
For the replay Dohenys had Tom White of Gortneenasowna playing instead of Florence J. Crowley, who was in England on business. Pat Joe Crowley moved back into goal. The game was again an exciting one with little between the sides at the end. In the first half, Denis Bernard at wing-forward, picked off 3 lovely points, helping his side to a 5 point lead at half-time, 0-5 to 0-0. Kanturk fought back in the second half but Dohenys managed to hold on to the lead to win by the narrowest of margins, 0-5 to 0-4.

Dohenys were County Champions for 1897, bringing the senior title back to West Cork for the first time. Tar-barrels blazed and the townspeople turned out in their hundreds as the victorious team returned to Dunmanway. Their campaign was not over, but whatever the future held for them the team had won for themselves a proud place in the history of the G.A.A. in Dunmanway. The Dohenys club would experience difficult times in the years ahead, but the spirit and example of these "old Dohenys" guaranteed that the Club would always occupy a prominent position in the life of Dunmanway.
Being County champions Dohenys had the honour of representing Cork in the All-Ireland championship. They had the prerogative of selecting any players they wished from the other clubs of Cork, but it was a prerogative they used with discretion, preferring to depend on the well-tried men of their own team.
Munster Championship First Round
Dohenys experienced their first taste of inter-county football in May, 1898, at Dungarvan, where they - defeated the Waterford County Champions, Erin's Hopes. For this game they selected Tom Mullane and Dan Coughlan of Nils, Jack McCarthy and Joe O'Reilly of Lees. The journey to Dungarvan was a long and tiring one, with the team leaving Dunmanway in the early hours of Sunday morning, to catch the 9.30 train from Cork.

Although winning the toss Dohenys elected to play against the wind as the team was slow to settle. Points from Dan Rick, Mullane, and Bernard gave them a 0-3 to 0-0 lead at half-time. Jack McCarthy scored their only goal in the second half, as they fought to hold onto their lead. A late Dungarvan goal narrowed the gap to 1 point, the final score being Dohenys 1-5, Erin's Hopes 1-4.
Munster Championship Semi Final
In their next game Dohenys continued on their winning way with 0-6 to 1-0 win over Clonmel Shamrocks. The game was played in Cork Park in conjunction with the Rockies versus Suir View hurling game. Over 15,000 people turned up for the game, a much larger crowd than expected. Not enough turnstiles were in operation and many people climbed in over the fences. The hurling match, which was fixed for 1.30 p.m. did not start until 4.00 p.m. as the Tipperary train had broken down. As a result it was 10 minutes to 6 before the football game began. With 5 minutes remaining in the game, Clonmel protested at the awarding of a free to Dohenys and refused to continue. The referee awarded the game to Dohenys who went on to play Limerick Commercials in the Munster Final.

Munster Championship Final
Their game against Limerick was played in Thurles on Sept. 25th with the Limerick men, reigning All-Ireland champions, being installed as firm favourites. Dohenys again relied mainly on their own home players, selecting only Tim Twohil of Kanturk, Frank Searles, Dick Coughlan and Tom Mullane of Nils. Limerick had the advantage of the wind in the first half and although Dohenys employed the unorthodox strategy of playing 2 extra half-backs, the Limerick men led by 0-3 to 0-0 at half-time. From the start of the second half Dohenys pressed hard, keeping Limerick on the defence for much of the half. They picked off 2 points in the first 5 minutes, had equalised by the 15th minute, and scored 2 further points in the last 10 minutes, giving them a two points win, Dohenys 0-5 Commercials 0-3.

Thus the "Mad Dohenys" from Dunmanway were steadily and determinedly battling their way to Jones' Road. First Cork County Champions, next Munster Champions, and they now had the All-Ireland Final in sight.
All Ireland Final
On February 5th 1899, 16 months after winning the County Championship, Danny Rick O'Donovan led his team onto the field at Jones' Road in Dublin, to play Charles Kickhams, the Dublin and Leinster champions in the All-Ireland final. It was a a proud day for the Gaels of Dunmanway as their team had battled this far against all the odds.

Many reasons have been put forward for Dohenys' defeat in this game, but it is possible to pinpoint a couple of these. The events leading up to the game, were without doubt, a major contribution. They first of all had to face an arduous trip to Dublin, boarding the train at Dunmanway at 1 p.m. on Saturday and not reaching Dublin until midnight. On arrival they discovered that their accommodation had not been booked by the County Board, and it wasn't until 2 o'clock in the morning, that they were fixed up at the Black Star Hotel in Amiens.
Even then their troubles were not over for the night. Some of them were lucky enough to get beds, the remainder had to be satisfied with sofas and armchairs. The players were exhausted after their tiring 200 mile journey but still little rest came their way.
Every man of the team declared then, and for years afterwards, that there must have been a raving madman in the hotel that night, for all night long somebody in the house continued to yell and scream in the weirdest fashion, so that sleep was almost impossible for any of them. Whether this was a ruse to work on the nerves of those countrymen from away down in West Cork, or whether they were the screams of genuine distress, we will never know. But whatever may have been the cause, the effect was the same, it was a sleepless night for the men of the Dohenys football team.

Not exactly the right preparations on the eve of an All-Ireland final. Little wonder then that the Dohenys of Jones' Road, were not the Dohenys of Cork Park, or Dungarvan or Thurles.
Another factor, however, which contributed to their defeat was the failure of their forwards, never remarkable for their accurate kicking, but on this occasion below even their usual form. Two sharpshooting forwards would have made a difference to them on the day. Two such men had been selected to play with them, Jack McCarthy of Lees and Tom Ahearne of Blarney.
But McCarthy and Aherne never turned up, for on the previous day they had helped Ireland at Lansdowne Road to defeat England, and win the elusive Triple Crown. Those were, of course, the days before "The Ban". Had these two men turned out for the Dohenys on that February Sunday in 1899, the story of the All-Ireland Final of 1897 might have been vastly different.

As it was they had to give way to a strong Kickhams side, captained by a West Corkman, Paddy Walsh of Bandon. Yet, the score of 2-6 to 0-2 at the final whistle, was rather flattering to the Dublinmen, as Dohenys fought every second of the hour, and were beaten rather by their own erratic shooting than by Kickham's brilliant form.
The final whistle, blown by Referee Lyons of Limerick, marked the end of Dohenys' gallant campaign; they had been defeated, had fallen at the final fence. However, they had gone down fighting, and had been sportsmen even in defeat. They returned to Dunmanway chastened but not dispirited; defeated but still the idols of the countryside. Whatever the future might hold for the Dohenys Club, these old Dohenys had made sure that they would never be forgotten.
A full report on this game thanks to the Skibbereen Eagle can be found by clicking here.
The Men of 1897
Pad Joe Crowley, the goalie, who also played as a forward and was good in both positions.
Tim Lordon, was unbeatable at right full back.
Danny Hayes, one of the veterans of the side, was teak-tough at full back.
Jim Fuller completed a sound full back line.
Pad Lordon, at half back, was as good a back as Dunmanway has ever produced.
Danny Crowley-Meara,   one   of   the   oldest men  on  the  team,  was  a fast,   fearless   and untiring half back.
Connie Coughlan, at left half-back, was one of the most determined men on the team.
Jimmy Crowley-Meara,    at   half   back   or midfield, was more than a handful for any player that had to mark him.
John O'Kelly-Lynch, the only non-native on the team, was also an outstanding athlete.
Tim Coughlan, a fast and fiery forward, was--the last man to kick the ball in the '97 final.
Tom White, played in goal or as a forward, as the occasion demanded, but always played a man's part.
Thomas Crowley, a stocky, powerful forward, played on die left wing.
Denis  Bernard,  fast  and determined on  the right wing, was a regular scorer. Dan Rick O'Donovan,  was  the  captain and star forward through all their greatest matches.
Dan Desmond, was a forward of great ability.
Jerry O'Donovan at left full forward, caused many a problem for his opponents. Con Flynn, as keen a forward as any of them had the unenviable task of marking the opposing goalie.
Florence J. Crowley, the regular goalie, a position that needed strength and nerve. His contemporaries regarded him as the greatest goalie they had ever seen. In a dozen seasons he conceded only 5 goals. He was also a forward of ability, moving into the forwards when his team was playing with the wind, and Pad Joe Crowley taking over in goal.
T. Collins, T. Sullivan, P. Crowley, T. Lynch, J. Donovan. T. Hourihan, P. O'Donovan, E. Crowley, J. McCarthyalso played in the earlier rounds of the championship.
This was put together with the help of the The Dohenys History book and Raymond Lyons.