No. 10 Cork Churches Tournament Trophy – Corn an Dr. Ó Luasa
The Cork Churches Tournament of the late 1950s came to be recognized as the unofficial All-Ireland Club Championship. The tournament was an initiative by the then Bishop of Cork, Dr. Cornelius Lucy, to raise money to build five new churches in the fast developing suburbs of Cork. Participation was by invitation, extended to the country’s current best hurling teams. Among the leading clubs of the era taking part were: – Glen Rovers (Cork), St. Vincent’s (Dublin) St. Finbarr’s (Cork), Thurles Sarsfields, (Tipperary), Mount Sion (Waterford), Cork Sarsfields, Blackrock (Cork) and Bennetsbridge (Kilkenny). A set of valuable suit-lengths was the winning prize.
Incidentally, the first final (1956) between Thurles Sarsfields and St. Vincent’s, was played at Croke Park, on Friday evening July 6th. The game was advertised as the unofficial club championship of Ireland and was refereed by none other than the Cloyne maestro, Christy Ring. Local folklore in Thurles recalls that he blew the whistle only four times, to begin and end each half. The final score read: -Thurles Sarsfields 8-6, St. Vincent’s 3-6.
During its five years existence, Thurles Sarsfields were winners on four occasions: -1956,’58, ’59 and ’60, which confirmed their standing as Ireland’s champion club hurling team of the era. St. Finbarr’s (Cork) won in 1957. They became the first and only Cork team to win the Cork Churches tournament. For the organisers of the competition, it proved an outstanding financial success as five new churches were built.
The five new churches were named after the five Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary: – Church of
the Ascension, Gurranabraher (1955), Church of the Assumption, Ballyphehane (1956), Church of the
Resurrection, Farranree (1958), Church of the Holy Spirit, Dennehy’s Cross (1960) and Church of our
Lady Crowned, Mayfield (1962).
The trophy for the Cork Churches Tournament, Corn an Dr. Ó Luasa, can be seen, in the trophy cabinet of Lár na Páirce, Thurles. It was presented to the museum by Tomás Ó Baróid, who was secretary of Thurles Sarsfields during these years.