Ahern, Patrick (‘Balty’) (1900–71), hurler, was born 21 October 1900 at Ballintemple, Co. Cork, eldest of three sons of Patrick Ahern of Ballintemple, ship steward, and Hannah Ahern (née Walsh), also of Ballintemple. He attended primary school locally at Crab Lane. He played hurling from an early age and broke into the Blackrock senior side in the 1917/18 season at centre forward.
His strength and eye for goal quickly earned him a place on the Cork side, and in 1919 he won his first All-Ireland senior medal in Cork's heavy defeat of Dublin. He was on the losing Cork side when Dublin gained their revenge in the 1920 final. Holding his place in the Cork side for almost fifteen years, he went on to win four more All-Ireland medals (1926, 1928, 1929, 1931), and was thus the first player in either code to win All-Irelands in three different decades. In 1926 he was part of the Cork team that took the inaugural National League title at the Cork Athletic grounds, and he added a second league medal in 1930. He won his only Railway Cup medal in 1931 with Munster. A fixture in the dominant Blackrock side of the twenties, he won seven Cork county championships (1920, 1924, 1925, 1927, and the three in a row from 1929 to 1931).
A consistently dangerous forward, he was renowned for his strength and courage and the intelligence of his passing. His capacity to take crucial scores under pressure, most notably his equalising goal in the dying seconds of the 1926 Munster final versus the ‘World Champions’ Tipperary, made him a legend amongst Cork hurling supporters. Although he continued to play hurling for both Cork and Blackrock after 1931, the decline of both club and county meant that that year witnessed the last of his many victories. He worked in Cork harbour as a stevedore for many years and maintained an interest in hurling and the Blackrock club. He never married and lived in the family home at Ballintemple until his death on 2 October 1971.
His younger brother, Michael (‘Gah’) Ahern (1905–46), was also a prominent hurler for Cork and Blackrock. Born 22 June 1905 at Ballintemple, Co. Cork, he was educated locally at Crab Lane. He was unable to break into the very strong Blackrock team until 1925, when he helped them to a Cork county championship. A series of impressive displays for Blackrock, and as a member of the Cork side that won the 1925 Junior All-Ireland title, led to his selection for the senior county side for the 1926 season. In an astonishing debut season ‘Gah’ scored 3–2 from full forward in the 1926 league final versus Dublin, and notched up 2–1 in the first half of the Munster final versus Tipperary before being sent off. He returned to score 1–2 in Cork's All-Ireland victory over Kilkenny and retained his place on the county side for the next seven years. He went on to win three more All-Ireland medals with Cork (1928, 1929, 1931) and added a second National League title in 1930. He was a prolific forward at every level; his tally of 5–4 in the 1928 victory over Galway has never been equalled in an All-Ireland final, despite its being scored over sixty minutes. He won a single Railway Cup medal with Munster in 1929, having been on the losing side in the inaugural final of 1927. With Blackrock he won five Cork county championships (1925, 1927, 1929–31).
A skillful and stylish hurler, he had a predatory instinct inside the square and regularly scored more goals than points in matches. He was famous for his trickery and his ability to strike the sliotar equally well off either side. His attitude to the game was underlined by his objection to a special blessing given to the Cork side before the 1926 Munster final versus Tipperary, explaining: ‘I'd rather beat them on the pitch’ (Horgan, 51).
Michael Ahern married (13 September 1930) Caroline, sister of Eugene Coughlan (qv); they had two sons and five daughters. He worked as an operator at the Ford Motor Co. in Cork for many years but developed rheumatoid arthritis at a relatively early age and was confined to a wheelchair. He died 29 December 1946.