Birth of a Hurling Club
At the turn of the 19th century, despite the promotion of ‘garrison games’, the area of Dillons Cross remained a hive of hurling activity. The Cross team of that period were known colloquially as Barrack Stream (the name derived from the stream that ran down towards what was then known as Barrack Cross) and although not affiliated to the GAA, they used play games against other unaffiliated teams from surrounding areas, such as Madden’s Buildings, Lansdowne and the Common’s Road.
“They used go down to Bell’s Field near the Fever Hospital to play Madden’s Buildings and Madden’s would come up to Kelleher’s Field for the return match”, recalled John Walsh, and “this established a close bond between the two districts”.
In 1909, a plaque was erected on the house where Dillon had lived, at the junction between the Old Youghal Road and Ballyhooley Road, the unveiling of which led to the crossroads being formally known as Dillon’s Cross. A short time later, a group of nationalists met in Miss O’Sullivan’s public house (now Paddy Power’s bookmakers), with the intention of forming a hurling club. Their aims were two-fold; to keep alive the name and the spirit of the Fenian patriot and to preserve and promote hurling within the shadows of one of the strongest military garrisons in Ireland. Those present in O’Sullivan’s that day included Dan and Pats Lyons, Richard and Bob Day, Barney Reilly, Mick Delany, Billy Sheehan, Con Foley, Pat Linehan, Johnny Stanton, M.J. Mahony, Ned Walsh and Willie Connolly.
The club was affiliated in 1910 and took part in various tournament games. The following year, Brian Dillons entered the minor championship (no age limit at the time and was the rough equivalent of today’s junior championships), reaching the final before losing out to ‘minor kingpins of the time’ Sunday’s Well on a scoreline of 5-0 to 0-1. The team, led by captain Harry Lyons, sported blue woolen geansaithe, with a yellow sash and the lettering B.D.H.C embroidered across the front. Brian Dillon’s Hurling and Football Club had arrived.
The Early Years
From 1910 onwards, Brian Dillon’s (or Bryan Dillon’s as they were often referred to as in the newspapers) were prominent in leagues, tournaments, and championships and in 1915, returned to the final, where they faced Fair Hill. This time they prevailed, on a scoreline of 4-2 to 2-1, to return the trophy to the north-eastern side of the city for the first time. The victorious Brian Dillon’s team lined out as follows:
Pat Linehan (captain), Con Foley, Jeremiah O’Connell, Mick Geaney, Fan Barry, Paddy Barry, Billy Sheehan, Harry Lyons, Dan O’Connor, Pat Horgan, Humphrey Newman, Johnny Stanton, Robbie Barry, John Fitzpatrick, Richard Geaney
Having conquered the city, Dillon’s progressed to the county final at the Cork Athletic Grounds, where they faced a team known as Rockmills from Kildorrery. A strong second-half against their North Cork opponents ensured that Dillon’s emerged victorious, 4-2 to 1-1. Brian Dillons were county champions for the first time. Few could have imagined that such success would sow the seeds of dissatisfaction and dissention the following year.
The medals that started Glen Rovers
At the time of Brian Dillon’s inaugural county championship victory in December 1915, the Great War was still in progress and poverty was very much the main feature of urban life in Cork. As such, medals were not immediately available. The Dillon’s Cross side at the time were buttressed by a cohort of players from Blackpool, many of whom were working in the nearby Goulding’s fertilizer factory in The Glen. Among the Blackpool contingent were Dan O’Connor, Mick and Richard Geaney, Robbie Barry and Johnny Cooke, all of whom lined out for Dillon’s in their county championship defeat to Lisgoold in September of 1916. By this stage, the medals still had not arrived and fearing they’d never get their hands on their precious honours, the Blackpool boys decided to break away and form their own club at the other side of The Glen. By 1917, Glen Rovers became affiliated to the GAA, with Dick Geaney becoming the first secretary-treasurer and Johnny Cooke becoming the first captain. The landscape of northside hurling had changed forever.
The club marches on
Despite the regrettable departure of some key players to Glen Rovers, Brian Dillon’s fledgling success continued unabated. The Brian Dillon’s footballers claimed their first major piece of silverware in 1919, winning the O’Rahilly Cup, one of the many trophies put forward for competition by clubs in the area (incidentally, the Brian Dillons Cup commanded much attention around the county at that time). Sporting matters in the northside of Cork City were soon relegated to the back of people’s minds however, with the deaths of Lord Mayor’s Tomás MacCurtain and Terence McSwiney, as well as the ambush at Dillon’s Cross and subsequent the Burning of Cork. Neither the Brian Dillon Cup nor the O’Rahilly Cup were played that year. In fact, they were never played again.
The Sars amalgamation
In the early years, Brian Dillon’s played many of their early games in Riverstown, a long trek across Barnavara considering the dearth of available transport options at the time. Indeed, many of the finest hurlers from the Mayfield-Dillon’s Cross area hurled with the successful Riverstown-based Sarsfields club until the Sars’ club fell on hard times and eventually petered out of existence in 1919. The idea of an amalgamation between the three teams from St. Joseph’s parish – Dillon’s, Mayfield and St. Joseph’s – and Sars’ neighbouring club Riverstown to form a revived Sarsfields began to gain traction, helped in no small part by the persistence of ardent Sars supporter Fr. Tim O’Connor, curate at St. Joseph’s. Although the Mayfield club (founded in 1893) declined Fr. O’Connor’s advances, the other three united and in 1922, the new Sarsfields club was born, with the Brian Dillon’s club being represented by the blue in their jerseys.
The new club won the East Cork League in 1923. However, with a pitch in Riverstown and a clubhouse in Dillon’s Cross, the partnership was destined for failure. “The amalgamation worked for about three years” recalled former committee member Sonny Walsh, “but the Riverstown men didn’t like coming up to Dillon’s Cross for the meetings and we didn’t like travelling down to Riverstown”. The growing discontent intensified as more Glanmire-Riverstown players began to come to the fore, to the chagrin of the Dillon’s Cross players who felt they weren’t getting a fair break. In 1931, fifteen years after the Blackpool cohort had broken away to form Glen Rovers, the Dillon’s Cross contingent broke away from Sarsfields to re-form Brian Dillons.
Three in a row (of sorts)
Despite losing the city division final in the club’ first year back in 1931 and losing again in the decider four years later, the Brian Dillon’s hurlers finally claimed Junior honours in 1936. Having put Mayfield to the sword in the semi-final, Dillon’s made history against Blackrock in the final, on a scoreline of 4-4 to 3-3. That historic Brian Dillons team read as follows:
Dick Walsh (captain), Henry Lyons, Paddy Keenan, Willie Downey, Eddie Riordan, Johnny McCarthy, Mikey Coleman, Willie Horgan, Mikey White, Willie O’Connell, Ned Porter, Mick O’Donovan, Jim Sunners, Bertie O’Connell, Dan Dorney, Jack O’Herlihy
Dillon’s were thwarted by Blarney in the county semi-final but returned to the city final the following year, where they beat Lough Rovers by 5-7 to 4-4. Once again, they progressed to the county arena but once again, they were stopped at the penultimate stage, this time Valley Rovers proving their vanquishers.
A week before Christmas in 1938, in a game that was played mostly in the dark “with the ball for long periods invisible”, Glen Rovers defeated Brian Dillon’s in the city final. Despite the protestations of a number of the Dillon’s players however, no doubt influenced by the injustice befallen on their footballing counterparts three years previously, Dillon’s decided to avail of an objection to one of the Glen players. The appeal proved successful and for a third year in a row, the Brian Dillons hurlers were city champions.
Historic day in Coachford
The reason why the 1938 city final was played in almost complete darkness was due to the fact that it was played after that year’s county championship. A delay in completing the city fixtures meant that Brian Dillon’s had been nominated to represent the city in the county and had defeated both Kilbrittain and Cloyne rather convincingly en route to the county final. Dillon’s were buoyed by the arrival of two newcomers to the team; John O’Sullivan from Grattan Hill and John Coughlan (father of Denis, who won four All-Ireland’s with Cork in the ‘70’s) from the recently defunct St. Mary’s team in Blackpool.
The Dillon’s team were described as “typical city hurlers…possessing in a pronounced way all the tricks and clever touches that have made them so good to watch”. Despite the conditions, which were adjudged to be against their fast style of play, Brian Dillons emerged as comfortable winners over Cloughduv in the county final, 5-2 to 2-3, with John O’Sullivan, Eddie Riordan and Dinny ‘King’ McDonnell providing the all-important goals. The Brian Dillons team lined out as follows:
Ned Porter, Dan Dorney, Jeremiah Foley, Bertie O’Connell, Mikey White, Mossie Keenan, Dick Walsh, John O’Sullivan, John Coughlan, Willie Horgan, Eddie O’Riordan, Dinny McDonnell, Willie O’Connell, Jeremiah Connolly, Johnny McCarthy
The footballers make their mark
Despite the pre-eminence of hurling in the locality in the early part of the 20th century, it was the Brian Dillon’s footballers that first brought Junior honours back to Dillon’s Cross in 1935, after they defeated St. Anne’s in a low-scoring city final, the score reading 1-2 to 0-1. The joy was short-lived however. St. Anne’s lodged an appeal, on the basis that Dillon’s Billy O’Connor had played soccer and was thus in breach of the GAA’s Rule 27 which prohibited all members from playing, or even watching “rugby, football, hockey or any imported game which is calculated to injuriously affect our National Pastimes”. Dillon’s were stripped of their title.
Three years later, Dillon’s and St. Anne’s faced off once again in the football decider. This time there were no complaints, Brian Dillon’s winning comfortably, 3-8 to 2-2. The Brian Dillon’s team lined out as follows:
Jeremiah Connolly (captain), Georgie Stanley, Dave O’Sullivan, Bernard Hartnett, Jack Lynch, Willie Downey, Denis McDonnell, Paddy Lynch, John O’Sullivan, Wally Flaherty, Ned Porter, Paddy Lynch, Joseph Gaynor, Jeremiah Foley, Bertie O’Connell
The Lean Years
Despite the strength of the club during the war years, with teams at intermediate, junior and minor, no city or county championships were returned to the Cross and after the glories of the ‘30’s, the post-war years saw a decline in Brian Dillon’s fortunes. With emigration draining the district of itshurlers and footballers, one committee member of the times recalled that “We were just hanging on with little or no money and barely a full panel of players”.
Yet the club survived. One match which encapsulated the backs-to-the-wall spirit of club occurred in 1950, in a championship game down the Park against local rivals Mayfield. With Mayfield heavily fancied, they hired four buses for their players and supporters and ensured that their presence was well known as they passed through Dillons Cross on the way to the game. On the contrary, fourteen Dillon’s players arrived at the venue on foot. Dinny Mehigan takes up the story:
“One of our forwards, Ray Bluett, wasn’t feeling well that day but we had no choice but to ask him to play. He lined up to play with the other forwards for the start and got the ball from the throw-in. He took a mighty swing at it and sent the sliothar straight past Connie Hanlon in the Mayfield goal. Then he got sick and had to come off the field He didn’t even get to his position in the full-forward line, but his goal was the start of a great victory. We travelled home in side-cars that day”.
Yet another split
In 1951, an Under-15 Board was established in the City Division and all clubs were aske to use different names before resuming their club names for under-16 and minor competitions. The Glen became Cúchulainns, Nemo were Frair’s Walk, the ‘Barr’s were Greenmount, Blackrock were Knockrea Rockies and Dillon’s became Glenview. And it was Glenview that won the inaugural under-15 championship, although the trophy was taken back once it became known that one of the players was overage.
The following year, when it came to under-16 level, some of the parents wanted the club to keep the Glenview name, despite all other clubs reverting to their original club names. The Brian Dillons officer understandably found this unacceptable and ultimately, Glenview broke away to form their own club, setting up shop on Military Road and taking with them many fine players from The Drive and Mount Verdon. Glenview folded after twelve years.
The Parish League
A big turning point for the club was the Parish League, which was first organised by E.P Stanley in 1955 between the four clubs in the parish – Brian Dillons, Mayfield, Glenview and St. Patrick’s. At the time, St. Patrick’s Parish was the biggest urban parish in Ireland, stretching from Patrick’s Hill to Mayfield and from the Lower Road to Ballyvolane. The Parish League had three grades – under-17, under-14 and under-12 and the matches were played in Forde’s Field near Iona Park.
The success of the Parish Leagues led to the formation of Brian Dillon’s own Street Leagues in the late ‘50’s, contested between Old Youghal Road, Dillon’s Cross, Collin’s Barracks and Ashburton. The club won four under-age trophies in 1958 and those successes proved the foundation for future success at adult-grades throughout the ‘60’s.
The Sixties – A decade of glory
The ‘60’s was a time of growing prosperity and opportunity in Ireland and amidst the newfound optimism, Brian Dillons embarked on an unprecedented era of success. The decade saw the Dillon’s Cross outfit claim a Junior championship, league and cup victories and several minor titles. The decade also saw Paddy O’Connor and Eddie Dorney represent Cork in the senior championship, the Curley brothers win All-Ireland underage awards and the Porters make their own mark with the Cork minors. Yet for all the glory of the ‘60’s, the most cherished prize of all, a county title, remained elusive.
In 1965, Dilon’s made short work of Glen Rovers, Na Piarsaigh and Douglas on the way to the city division final before facing off against the ‘Barr’s in what the Cork Examiner described as “the most thrilling game seen at Ballinlough for a long time”. Dillon’s were trailing by five points with twelve minutes remaining before two Peter Curley goals turned the game on its head. A late rally of points saw Dillons emerge victorious, on a scoreline of 5-7 to 5-3. The Dillon’s team lined out as follows:
Conor O’Brien, Willie Horgan, Ger O’Connell, Albie O’Sullivan, Dave Downey, Paddy O’Connor, Billy Hegarty, Albert Porter, Mick Maguire, Peter Curley, Eddie Dorney, Michael Curley, Ger Dowling, Paddy Waters, Mick Walsh.
A comprehensive 16-point victory over Carrigtwohill in the county semi-final ensured that Brian Dillons returned to the county final for the first time since the 1938 success. Unfortunately, with their young talisman Peter Curley sidelined through injury after breaking his thumb in a Harty Cup game for the Mon, their opponents Ballinhassig proved far too strong and ran out comfortable winners, 6-5 to 1-3.
Peter Curley, did however, gain some consolation for missing the county final when he captained the Brian Dillon’s minor to a league and championship double in the ‘B’ grade. Two years later, the junior hurlers claimed league honours when they defeated Ballinure 3-8 to 2-5, the victory coming two weeks after the ‘B’ hurlers beat Rochestown in their league decider. A memorable Double had been achieved.
In 1968, Dillon’s regained the city hurling championship when they beat Delanys at Ballinlough by 3-8 to 0-2. The victorious Dillon’s team lined out as follows:
Donal Cronin, Willie Horgan, Ger O’Connell, Donal Quinlan, Kevin Smith, Dave Downey (captain), Kieran Dowling, Eddie Dorney, Declan Hannon, Brian O’Brien, Ber O’Connell, Peter Curley, John McMahon, John O’Sullivan, Denis O’Mahony
In the county arena, an impressive tally of 7-12 saw Valley Rovers defeated in Ballinhassig. Newtownshandrum were up next in the county semi-final. After ten minutes, Dillon’s were seven points in front but two controversial incidents turned the tide in Newtown’s favour. Firstly, corner back Donal Quinlan was sent off at the quarter-hour mark and this was followed by a disputed (many would say illegal!) goal when a Newtown player mid-hit a free, only to follow up and bury the ball to the net. Newtown won by six and ended the year as county champions.
The pain inflicted by the Newtown defeat was assuaged somewhat by the momentous success of club’s under-14’s who, under the name St. John’s, beat Glen Rovers in the Bord na nÓg ‘A’ final. Although it was quite rare for a junior club to win ‘A’ grade competitions at underage level, the Dillon’s youngsters proved it was no flash in the pan, retaining the trophy the following year along with the league title. Some of the players that played their part in those victories were as follows:
John O’Brien (’68 under-14 captain), Dave Scanlon (’69 under-14 captain), Brendan Tuohy, Denis Sheehan, Mick McGrath, Eddie Baker, Pat Condon, Sylvester Ryan, John Corbett, Anthony O’Leary, Wally Dalton, Ger Coakley, John Leahy, Oliver Lucey, Aidan Murphy, Brian O’Neill, Liam King, Willie Cavanagh, Terence O’Brien, Billy Brosnan, Richie Cahill, Joe Madden, Donal Nodwell, Gene O’leary, Nick Dunphy, Michael O’Sullivan, Tony Sheehan, Matt O’Callaghan, Denis Fitzpatrick, Kevin Costello, Don Good
In 1969, the Dillon’s minor hurlers decided to try their luck at ‘A’ grade, which at the time was very much the preserve of senior heavyweights. Undeterred by their status as minnows, a formidable Dillon’s team comprising talented hurlers such as Vivian O’Brien, Teddy Buckley, Martin Corbett, John Linehan, Martin Holohan, Pat Linehan, Jerome Good and Michael Corcoran disposed of Na Piarsaigh in the first round. Dillon’s lost narrowly to a strong ‘Barr’s team featuring Jimmy-Barry Murphy, Donal O’Grady and Eamonn Fitzpatrick in the semi-final, but their presence at the top-table of minor hurling that year proved to be a fitting conclusion to a unforgettable decade in the annals of Dillon’s history.
The underage success continued into the ‘70’s with Brian Dillon’ juvenile teams winning an array of leagues and championships. The most notable of these occurred in 1975, the first years that the Cork County Board organised juvenile county championships. The inaugural under-16 ‘B’ championship was won by Dillon’s, who defeated Carbery Rangers by 2-11 to 0-4. The winning team lined out as follows:
Liam Sheehan, Liam Doherty, Johnny Murphy, Paul Shaw, Tom Murphy, Maurice Browne (captain), Robbie Boland, Eddie O’Halloran, Aidan Keane, Aidan King, Billy O’Flynn, Hughie Gray, Aidan Dineen, Mick Collins, Brendan Lynch
But the decade is probably best remembered for the emergence of an impressive junior football side that contested four championship finals and brought two city junior titles back to the club. One of the standout players on that Brian Dillon’s teams was Don Good who, in 1974, won an All-Ireland minor football medal for Cork. Another was Brendan Murphy who made the Cork minor football team the year after.
In ‘75, a young Dillon’s side reached the city final for the first time in 25 years, although an experienced Mayfield outfit proved far too strong on the day. A similar fate would befall the team a year later, when they lost out in the final to Delany’s.
It was third time lucky for Dillon’s in 1977 however, when they defeated St. Vincent’s by 1-10 to 2-4 to end a 39-year wait for footballing glory. The winning team lined out as follows:
Willie Scannell, Tom Doyle, Frank Connolly, Anthony Porter, John Corbett, Johnny Murphy, Aidan Keane, Jim Nodwell, Martin Corbett, Brian Dineen, Jerome Good, Donal Hegarty, Liam King, Mick Tobin, Paddy Condon
Dillon’s retained the city championship in ’78, before defeating Knocknagree and Glenville en route to the county final against Kildorerry. Despite leading for much of the game, Kildorerry finished strongly and won out on a scoreline of 3-6 to 1-8.
Opening of the Pavilion
Easter Monday, 1980 was one of the greatest days in the history of Brian Dillons, as former GAA President Con Murhy officially opened the magnificent new pavilion complex at the Tank Field, an occasion that marked the culmination of years of hard work by dedicated club members. The pavilion initially included a large assembly hall, meeting rooms, a fully equipped kitchen, storerooms and dressing rooms and in 1984, a squash court and members lounge were added.
The early ‘80’s had seen a spate of city and county titles annexed at underage level, most notably perhaps, an under-16 county championship victory over Kilmeen in 1982. Emboldened by such successes, the decision was made to enter the ’84 minor team in the ‘A’ grade in both codes. The decision proved to be worthwhile.
The footballers disposed of St. Vincent’s in the first round before surprising St. Michael’s at the quarter-final stage. Dillon’s bowed out in the semi-finals, to a ‘Barr’s team that went on to win the county championship. That defeat to the ‘Barr’s however, may have had something to do with the momentous events of six days previously.
Having defeated Ballyphehane and a highly-rated Blackrock side to reach the city championship final, Na Piarsaigh were hotly-tipped to end Dillon’s minor odyssey. Heroic performances by goalkeeper Kieran O’Neill and Kenny Cotter in midfield ensured that Dillon’s wrote themselves into the history books, prevailing on a scoreline of 2-7 to 1-6 (that match report can be viewed in full here). The Dillon’s team lined out as follows:
Kieran O’Neill, Kieran O’Mahony, Martin Desmond, Paul Twohig, Colm Marshall, Richie Walsh, Brendan Deane, Kenny Cotter, Jim Deane, Martin O’Regan, Teddy McCarthy, Fachtna O’Mahony, Gerry Jeffers, Bryan Allen, Richie Dineen. Subs: Mick Keohane, Colm Deane
Unfortunately, by the time Dillon’s took to the field to play Midleton in the county decider, ten weeks had elapsed and much of the momentum that carried them through the summer had dissipated. Midleton ran out ten-point winners. The year ended on a high however, with the minors completing a hurling and football double in the league.
The Nineties – Football reigns supreme
To a large extent, Dillon’s failed to capitalise on the wealth of underage talent that was at their disposal throughout the ‘80’s. For most of the players that shook up the minor ‘A’ grade in ’84, a solitary city championship was to be their lot at junior level. That success came in 1991, when Dillon’s beat Bishopstown, 1-10 to 0-10, in a city final replay, to return the trophy to Dillon’s Cross for the first time in thirteen years. The victorious Dillon’s team lined out as follows:
Bryan Allen (captain), John Desmond, Tom Doyle, Ken Delanty, Paul Twohig, Martin Desmond, Mick Keohane, Donal O’Callaghan, Ger Murphy, John Crowley, Kieran O’Neill, Greg Hannon, Jamesie Corcoran, Alan O’Sullivan, Richie O’Callghan. Subs: Brendan Deane, Alan Costello
The under-21 footballers, captained by Alan Costello and spearheaded by Anthony Kenneally in attack, repeated the trick against Nemo Rangers in the city final a few weeks later to seal a rare Double. The club was even represented on the biggest day in the sporting calendar in ’91 when club stalwart Willie Horgan reffed the All-Ireland hurling final between Tipperary and Kilkenny.
Three football trophies were brought back to the club in ’95 – the junior league, the under21 championship and the minor B league – but the city championship remained elusive for another three years. The victories in ’95 did provide a solid footing, on which the footballer’s success in 1998 was built. A 1-8 to 0-6 victory over Nemo Rangers in the city final that year brought the football championship back to Brian Dillons for only the sixth time. The winning team lined out as follows:
Bryan Allen, Derek Whelan, Paul Attridge, Kieran O’Mahony, Alan Whelan, John Crowley, Donagh McCarthy, Tom Fitzgerald, Brendan Deane (captain), James Horgan, Richie O’Callaghan, Paul Triggs, Kenny Cotter, Paul O’Brien
Dillon’s overcame Adrigole, after two games that went right down to the wire, to put them through to the county semi-final against Newmarket. Again, the tie went to a replay, thanks to the performance of goalkeeper Bryan Allen who denied the North Cork men time and time again. In the replay, a sluggish first-half performance cost Dillons and ultimately, they lost out on a scoreline of 1-9 to 0-6. Newmarket beat Kilavullen by a point in the county final.
A new Millennium
The football success continued into the ‘00’s, as the minors defeated Nemo Rangers in the city championship final, due in no small part to the scoring exploits of John Horgan and John O’Herlihy. The final score read 1-17 to 2-7 and the Dillon’s team lined out as follows:
David White, Rory O’Brien, Brian Barrett, Eamonn McCarthy, Stephen Coughlan, Tom Triggs, James Cierans, Michael Colohan, Mark Walsh, Richard Good, John Horgan, Donal Scheck, Sean Kelly, John O’Herlihy, Rian O’Brien
But it was the Brian Dillon’s hurlers, after years in the wilderness, that emerged to claim the club’s only championship victory of the ‘00’s. In 2004, they came agonisingly close, losing out to a last-gasp point against the ‘Barr’s in city final. More despair followed in 2005, when Mayfield inflicted second successive city-final defeat on their local rivals. But when Dillon’s returned to the final to meet Mayfield again a year later, they would not be denied.
With John Horgan in unerring form, Dillon’s were not to be denied for a third time and when the final whistle blew, the final score read 1-13 to 0-11 in Dillon’s favour. The team that wrested back control of the city hurling championship after 38 years was as follows:
Tom Triggs, Derek McDonnell, Kieran O’Mahony, Dave Daly, Danny McCormack, Brian Barrett, Alan McNabb, John Horgan, Dave Whelan, Michael Colohan, Alan Costello, Cillian Brosnan, David White, James Horgan, Mossy Carey (captain)
Defeat to Barryroe after a replay put paid to the Junior hurler’s county ambitions later that year. The future looked bright, however and the “unimaginable scenes of joy” that were evident in Ballinlough earlier in the year were replicated a few months later up the Tank Field, when the Dillon’s under-16’s won the premier city championship for the first time since 1970, beating northside rivals St. Vincent’s by 1-10 to 1-9. That young Dillon’s team, that would go on to provide the backbone of the Junior hurlers for years to come, lined out as follows:
Richard Hickey, Adam O’Donovan, Darragh Rodgers, Ciaran Kelleher, Paul Horgan, Cillian Brosnan, Danny Murphy (captain), William Murphy, Cian McCarthy, Conal Doyle, Martin Corbett, Jason Heffernan, Michael Myers, Sean Doonan, Dave Cremin
Decade of dominance
The last ten years has undoubtedly been the most successful in the club’s history, with the hurlers claiming four city championships, as well as a multitude of city and county leagues. The first of these came in 2012, when a youthful Dillon’s side stunned their old rivals Mayfield in the city final. That Brian Dillon’s team lined out as follows:
Tom Triggs, Niall Fahy, Danny Murphy, Michael Noonan, Mark White, Darragh Brosnan, Tomás Lawrnece, Cian McCarthy, Keith McCormack, John Horgan, Cillian Brosnan, John Noonan, Brian Barrett, Kevin Coughlan Subs: Maurice Carey, Philip O’Brien, Dylan O’Donoghue, Andrew Murphy
Dillon’s overcame Ballinhassig and Grenagh in the county championship to meet Kildorrery in the county final. Dillon’s led for most of the game before a Peter O’Brien goal inspired a comeback and earned the North Cork side an unlikely draw. In the replay, O’Brien again proved the hero, another late goal earning Kildorrery a smash-and-grab victory.
The following year, Dillon’s won the County League, defeating Cloughduv in the final and repeated the trick in 2014 against Dungourney. In 2015, the won the city hurling championship again before losing out to Ballymartle in the county quarter-final.
In 2016, the Brian Dillon’s footballers ended an 18-year famine to win the city football championship. Four points down to Delanys with barely seconds remaining, John Horgan converted a free to reduce the deficit. Dillon’s won the kickout and with the last kick of the game, Darragh Brosnan’s left-footed effort found its way through a labyrinth of bodies before nestling in the bottom corner. Dillon’s took over in extra-time and won by five, on a scoreline of 1-12 to 1-7. The Dillon’s team lined out as follows:
Paul McCarthy, Ben Wharton, Cian McCarthy, Michael Noonan, Tom Triggs, Darragh Rodgers, Stephen Crowley, Cillian Brosnan, Darragh Brosnan, Shane Maher, Darren McGrath, John Noonan, Mark Buckley, John Horgan, Philip O’Brien Subs: Niall Fahy, Colin Lynch, Chris Daly
In 2017, Brian Dillon’s hurlers lost out to Nemo Rangers in the city championship final but qualified for the county championship through the backdoor. After convincing wins over Dromina and Banteer, they faced off against Nemo once again in the county semi-final. A six-point victory over their city rivals earned them a place in the county final once more, this time to face St. Catherine’s.
Dillons started poorly in the final and by half-time, were seven points in arrears. They completely outplayed Catherine’s in the second half however, outscoring their opponents 1-8 to 4 points before a late Catherine’s free levelled the game. The replay, inexplicably, was played just two days later and understandably, neither side reached their full potential. Ultimately, Dillon’s once again emerged on the wrong side of a one-point defeat. The Brian Dillon’s teams that featured in those finals were as follows:
(Drawn game) Tom Triggs, Danny McCormick, Cillian Brosnan, Philip O’Brien, Mark White, Darragh Brosnan, John Noonan, Tomás Lawrence, Cian McCarthy, Ross Murphy, James Feehan, Keith McCormick, Colin Lynch, Darragh Rodgers, John Horgan Subs: Kevin Varian, Kevin Coughlan, Danny Murphy, James Varian
(Replay) Tom Triggs, Danny McCormick, Cillian Brosnan, Philip O’Brien, James Varian , Darragh Brosnan, John Noonan, Tomás Lawrence, Cian McCarthy, Ross Murphy, Danny Murphy, Keith McCormick, Colin Lynch, Darragh Rodgers, John Horgan Subs: Kevin Varian, Mark White, James Feehan, Kevin Coughlan
Dillon’s retained the city hurling championship again in 2019 and 2020 and this year, are hoping to become the first side in the club’s history to complete the three-in-a-row (on the field of play!) and the first club to achieve the feat since the ‘Barr’s in the early ‘40’s.