? ? Finbarr Buckley
PFIZER PARK has had a long association with the CBL stretching back to the mid-’70s when the fledging Pfizer Corporation entered a team for the first time, writes Finbarr Buckley.
The idyllic grounds surrounded by a pitch and putt course and a panoramic scenic lake view from the dressing-room pavilion went on to stage many of the league’s most memorable matches, including league play-offs, cup semi-finals along with divisional semi-finals and finals. The grounds were recently developed into a car park (?) but the many thrilling matches played at the venue will live long in the memory.
Premier Cup Final – Wednesday, May 26th 2008
City Bars 1 – 0 Fermoy Nissan/MCM
Under the shrewd guidance of manager Terry Leahy, who had played with a string of clubs in the league before moving into management, City Bars had gone close to success in the previous two seasons, finishing runners-up to S Transport in the shield in 2005/06 and runners-up MCM in the premier division the following season 2006/07. Fermoy Nissan/MCM had been hugely successful in the seasons leading up to 2007/08, manager Ken O’Callaghan the catalyst to winning three premier titles in four seasons between 2003 and 2007, a Mooney Cup triumph in the double-winning season of 2003/04 along with a second division league success in 1999/2000.
IF ever a club needed to win a Premier Cup it was City Bars, who for too long fell short of expectation at key moments. In the weeks leading up to the final, they had thrown away a well-merited runners-up spot to their rivals MCM, and when invited to the party at the 2008 year’s Premier Cup Final, Terry Leahy and his charges were determined to leave triumphantly by the front door.
A strong breeze favoured Bars in the opening half at Pfizer Park, and almost from the kick-off the well-oiled front-line of Mattie Levelle, Morgan Denny, Dan Lane and Damien Galvin pressed the MCM defence at every opportunity. Gavin’s in-swinging corner forced Kevin O’Keeffe to palm the ball onto the crossbar after 15 minutes, and minutes later, Lane drove through the middle to blast his shot wide with O’Keeffe exposed.
The only goal of the match arrived after 21 minutes and was well worth viewing for the band of loyal supporters who braved the blustery elements. Lane was up-ended twenty-five yards from goal, right in the centre of the pitch. Damien Galvin took a couple of strides back before delivering the ball over the wall and past the flailing hand of O’Keeffe, the ball coming down off the underside of the crossbar into the net. O’Keeffe made an absolutely outstanding full-length save to deny Lane before MCM rallied approaching half-time, Jamie O’Shea forcing two goods saves from the alert Daryl Levelle.
MCM naturally bossed the second-half with the wind advantage but were repeatedly caught offside by a Bars rearguard well marshalled by outstanding central defender John Stevens and ‘man-of-the-match’ Damien O’Keeffe. The introduction of Tom Frawley at the interval gave greater purpose to MCM’s attacks, and from two of his trade-mark free-kick deliveries, Adrian Evans and captain Nigel Thornhill came within a whisker of forcing an equalizer in the 68th and 77th minutes respectfully. O’Keeffe got down well to turn away Morgan Denny’s low shot in the 83rd minute, but there was to be no denying Bars their moment of glory, and on the full-time whistle the champagne bottles were opened and City Bars had finally come of age!
City Bars: Daryl Levelle; Damien O’Keeffe ( capt.), Richard Wallace; Aidan O’Brien John Stevens; Gary McCarthy, Damien Galvin, Roy Anderson (Marty Lynch); Morgan Denny, Mattie Levelle, Dan Lane
Fermoy/Nissan MCM: Kevin O’Keeffe; Tim Dennehy, Donnacha McCarthy; Kevin O’Shea, Adrian Evans; Nigel Thornhill, Jerry O’Reilly (Maurice Thornhill), Pat O’Herlihy; Keith McCarthy, Jamie O’Shea (Tom Frawley), Steve Crowley.
Referee: Andy Mylod. Assistant Referees: Barry Buckley & Liam Murphy
Foot-note: MCM went on to finish runners-up to Marlboro Trust in the league, relegating City Bars to third spot. Both teams would never taste success again as MCM would lose to Bru Centra in the shield and Island Tavern (Doolan’s Cow) in the Premier Cup Final the following season, leaving Terry Leahy to pick up the pieces again with a new side, MiDaza Rebels, eventually winning the Holy Grail, the Premier League in 2015 and shield in 2016.