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“Tá tús maith leath na hoibre…….”

posted 6 Nov 2013, 11:27 by Unknown user
(Photo dated 30 October 1993)
Back Row From L to R: Rory O’ Driscoll (Mentor), Niall Kearney, Michael Kelleher, Damien Mannix, Colm O’ Riordan, Sean Murphy, Jason Lehane, Brian O’ Driscoll, Barry Meade, Michael Leonard RIP, Denis Mannix (Capt), Joseph Kelleher, Paul Goggin U9, Jos Kelleher (Mentor) & Pat Mannix (Mentor). ALL players in their last year of U10 except where stated.

Front Row From L to R: Brian O’ Keeffe, James O’ Driscoll, Tadgh O’ Keeffe U8, Trevor Kelleher U8, John Cullinane U9, David Murphy U8, Paudi O’ Brien U9, Padraig Mannix U8, Patrick Barry U9, Damien Kelleher U8, Connie Tarrant & Colman Mannix U4 (standing). Absent from photo Sean Twomey U8. 

(Photo dated 06 October 2013)

L to R

Donal Mannix, David Murphy, Niall Kearney,Sean Twomey, Brian O Driscoll, Brian O Keeffe Sean Murphy, Denis Mannix, Connie Tarrant, Coleman Mannix, Pat Mannix


“Tá tús maith leath na hoibre…….”

On a mild Saturday morning in April 1993 when Rory O' Driscoll (a 

Castlehaven man settled in Fermoyle, Banteer with his young family) Pat Mannix 

(a Gortmore, Banteer man better known in the GAA world for his involvement 

with neighbouring Club Kilshannig) & Jos Kelleher (a Millstreet man married & settled 

in Banteer village) gathered at The Sportsfield in Banteer to promote the game of 

Gaelic Football to an impressionable group of young parishioners, little did these men 

appreciate that standing before them were many of the boys who would go on to 

become the corner stone of the Lyre Gaelic Football Club for many, many of the years 

that were to follow.

While at a more low key local level that year the Duhallow Juvenile Board 

under the stewardship of the late Dan Sheahan (Chairman) & Bobby Evans (Secretary) 

took the decision to organise the Boards first ever competitive U10 Football C’ship. So 

it came to pass that a then unknown group of players from Banteer, Lyre & Nadd areas 

under the Lyre Club name would go on to defeat Cullen & Dromtariffe in the Quarter & 

Semi Final stages before bettering Kiskeam in the Final proper on Saturday October 

 at Kanturk to win this Clubs’ first ever “A” grade underage C’ship & their first (of 

what would turn out to be many) C’ships together as a group of players.

Now every sports team whether at a local, national or International level 

has several highs & many, many more lows & this group of players would prove to be 

no different also. By the very nature of team sports not all players once they’ve

graduated from their underage team take that step to join their adult club panel. 

Thankfully though, enough of these lads bought into the belief that they as players (both 

on a personal level & by extension through their childhood Club Lyre GFC) could be a 

competitive side at Junior Level & beyond. 

So in 1995 & with Tommy Mannix (played 25 years straight for Kilshannig

at Junior level retiring in ’91 with the club at Senior) adding a fresh voice to the 

management team mid campaign Lyre U12s captained by the late Michael Leonard

(our then Full Back that would be an ever present in that position for the next 

six seasons) deservedly won the U12 “A” League Final defeating Dromtariffe in 

Castlemagner 4-6 to 1-3 on the June Bank Holiday Weekend. The exact same group 

of lads, with Ronan Sheahan & the late Kieran Foley as coaches, also won the “A” 

Hurling league title later that Summer defeating Millstreet in Kanturk. At that time the 

league winners were not allowed enter the Divisions C’ship. & there was no U12 County 

competition for either code at that time also.

Now to 1997 & this panel were competing at U14 level. Jos Kelleher stepped 

aside & he was replaced by another Millstreet man Donie Twomey (married & settled 

with his family in Derry, Banteer) who had played Gaelic Football at the highest club 

level, including an ever present at wing back for the Cork Minors in ’75 & lining out 

corner back for the U21 team in ‘77. With the obvious benefit of hindsight this year was 

to prove the year when the group of players would be at their very best. Starting off the 

year the panel were entered in the Feile Football Competition at the “B” grade level, 

now the team was venturing very much into a territory of the unknown kind. 

A 1st

preceeded a flattering albeit thoroughly deserved Quarter Final victory over Carraigaline 

in Ballyanely. 

While a Semi Final meeting with Douglas in Ballincollig saw both sides going 

toe to toe in an absorbing hours Football, little separated the sides throughout & it was 

Lyre who had their noses in front by the bare minimum at the sounding of the full time 

whistle & the North Cork teenagers emerged victorious by a single point for a coveted 

place in the Final. 

Now it was onto Kanturk for the Final & ironically a meeting with fellow

Divisional side Kiskeam, whom Lyre had gotten the better of four years previously in 

that aforementioned final. Coming into the decider most people felt there was only 

 round victory over Courcey Rovers at a balmy Cloughdubh venue 

going to be one winner, with one expert putting it quite simply if not rather cruelly

“we have the meeting of Gaelic Football Aristocracy together with Gaelic Football 

Mediocracy”. 

So onto the game itself & on a fine May Sunday evening spectators were to 

witness an opening half that proved to be close & tense in the extreme, the first 30 

minutes saw few scores conceded by either defence, with Lyre holding a slender two 

point advantage at the break. 

Unsurprisingly Kiskeam were still confident the Clubs proud successes would 

stand to their boys & their past achievments would ultimately see their future adult 

stars coming out on top. Thankfully though at that time the history of Gaelic Football 

in this Barony was not our youngsters stronger subjects & on the resumption patrons 

witnessed a vibrant exhibition of pacey, open, attacking Gaelic Football. The type any 

sports person would be genuinely impressed with & so a historic first County underage 

Football title made its’ way back to our parish on an evening still reminisced about to 

this day, the full time score Lyre 5-12 Kiskeam 2-5. Unsurprisingly a Divisional League 

& C’ship double followed over the course of the playing year with old nemesises

Dromtariffe & Kiskeam again falling on the Lyre sword in those respective finals. 

With a County C’ship competition for Divisional League winners only, Lyre 

proceeded with an emphatic 1st

Glenville, 2-18 to 1-4. This win saw Lyre in a Semi Final & a meeting with Canovee over 

in Clondrohid.

In a game where Lyre completely dominated proceedings this scribe can vividly recall 

tensions being at an all time high, (especially on the sideline) with Lyres failure to 

convert a host of early point & goal chances clearly adding to an even greater sense of 

panic & frustration both on & off the field of play. So the opportunity to contest another 

County title that season slipped through the Lyre lads finger tips.

Onto the 1998 season when these lads were now competing at U16 “A” level, 

the games were getting a lot more serious & same for all team sports around that 

age, team discipline coupled with interests in off field activities were proving more of a 

distraction amongst some of us teenagers. 

On the same day, Friday April 24th

National Fundraiser at Banteer, Lyre supplemented greatly by their final year U16s 

(lads who were U11 back in ’93) John O’ Sullivan, Martin O’ Connell, Tadgh Duggan, 

Teddy Fitzgerald, Darragh Meade, Peter Doyle & Paul Buckley defeated Croke Rovers 

0-13 to 2-4, a victory that saw this group of players win their & the Clubs first ever U16 

“A” Football C’ship. This side would later in the year complete the double defeating

Dromtariffe over in Castlemagner, in a game that was in danger of descending into 

farce before a ball was ever thrown in when one of the more high profile Dromtariffe

players insisted on wearing a Hurling helmet owing to a head injury he sustained in a 

recent car accident. Thankfully the game commenced but only when the said player 

 Rd. Co. Quarter Final win over Imokilly Champions 

, as the RTE Telethon People In Need 

eventually saw sense & left the now infamous head gear in his team dug out.

 1999 was a year that saw Divisional League & C’ship honours realised again 

(with John O’ Donoghue our U16 Hurling trainer joining our mentors Donie, Pat & 

Tommy) with some intense early season fitness sessions under Johns’ guidance. At 

this time the training was more intense than even our Junior Hurling teams workouts & 

this more intense physical activity saw us reach the last hurdle where a meeting with 

Millstreet saw us defeat the town outfit 2-9 to 2-7 in an early evening C’ship showdown 

in Kanturk straight after our day at school in Colaiste Treasa & Scoil Mhuire on that late 

October evening throw in saw us players take the unfamiliar path uphill to the playing 

field. Earlier on in the year we also captured the U16 Hurling C’ship defeating Kanturk 

in the final going onto lose to Bandon in a Semi Final replay having bettered Ballinora in 

the earlier rd.

 A rather forgetful “A” Co. Semi Final November Saturday defeat to O’ 

Donovan Rossa at Carraigadrohid followed & that was as far as our panel would

accomplish outside of Duhallow. Yes that game was competitive, but the energy & 

enthusiasm that epitomised the panel for so long seemed to be missing now. I can 

clearly recall travelling home with my father, who’d taken time out from a neighbours 

wedding the day of the game, thinking about the sense of staleness amongst the 

playing panel & management which had become more obvious that year. The 

sense of joie de vivre which had illuminated so many days the previous six years of 

unprecedented achievement now seemed to be slowly but inevitably quenching month 

after month. Even though we as players didn’t discuss our dipping form (more out of 

machoism rather than being in any denial about it) our narrow win over Millstreet was 

a sure sign of our diminishing dominance in the division & our aura of invincibility was 

evapourating rapidly. Thankfully our season finished on a high with more success & a 

satisfying C’ship victory over Kanturk in the Final, thus seeing our Juvenile time end as 

it had began six years previous.

So what would become of these Juveniles entering their first years as official 

Minors & U21s, competing at “A” level in the years that were to come? Would Lyre gain 

divisional supremecy for the first time ever at U18 “A” level? That’s for another days’ 

explaining, but it is there to see in black & white, the results for those years & the in the 

Divisions roll of honour, you just won’t see the spirit & read the stories of those Minor & 

U21 campaigns from 1999 up to 2004 printed in those full time scorelines.

But what you the reader can say for certain is how many of these boys of ’93 

are standing here alongside you encouraging on our team, or better still out there 

before you inside that field in the Nora Herlihy Memorial Park still pushing themselves, 

living the dream, trying to create History for Lyre GFC with just one older & many, many 

younger team mates 20 years on!!!

By Ladhar ABÚ 1983.
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