Cashel King Cormac’s 1953 County Champions: A Major Breakthrough
Tipperary G.A.A. Yearbook 2005, p 69
Cashel King Cormac's victory in the 1953 county junior hurling final was a major breakthrough for the club. It was the first victory at that level, and it came as a surprise to many.
No Cashel team had won county honours in hurling or football before that year. The nearest a team from the parish came to winning was in 1910. In that year Racecourse won the county senior hurling final, but they had the match taken off them in an objection.
After the match the Racecourse captain, Dan Delaney, was interviewed and said: 'We went in to win. We are proud to be champions of Tipperary and to bring honours to Cashel.'
Toomevara objected, and Racecourse counter-objected. The matter was heard at a county board meeting on March 19. Both sides agreed to a replay, and this was fixed for Thurles on April 16. Racecourse decisively defeated Toomevara in the replay by 5-2 to 0-3.
Toomevara objected to the constitution of the Racecourse team. The objection claimed that certain players had lined out with other affiliated teams in the 1910 championship. One of these was Johnny Leahy. Racecourse denied the allegation but the chairman, Tom Kerwick, upheld it and awarded the match to Toomevara.
The verdict didn't go down well in Cashel. The correspondent of the 'Tipperary Star' commented: 'On the last occasion Racecourse won by fourteen points. In the face of this Toomevara will hardly claim to be the champion team of Tipperary. Such a claim would be preposterous, and medals for 'paper champions' would be ridiculous.' But 'paper champions' or not, Toomevara are listed as the county senior hurling champions for 1910.
Cashel King Cormacs had a great run of victories in the thirties. The club won a West junior title in 1933, and senior in 1934, 1936, 1937, 1939 and 1940. They reached the county final in 1937, 1939 and 1940, losing all three of them. Their opponents in 1937 were Moycarkey- Borris and the match was played at Thurles on September 19. It was described as the best county final for
eight years, with Cashel putting up a tremendous bid for the title. Michael Burke was the star and Tommy Parsons scored four goals, but Moycarkey still won by 7-6 to 6-2.
In 1939 Cashel came up against Thurles Sarsfields in the final, having beaten Rescrea in the semifinal. The game was played at Boherlahan on October 8, and again Cashel fell at the final hurdle despite putting up a better than expected performance. The final score was 5-3 to 2-4, and Cashel players, who were prominent, included Michael Burke, Stedie Morrisey, Florrie McCarty, Jim Barrett, Paddy Maher, and Geoff O'Shea.
Moycarkey Borris were once again Cashel’s opponents in the 1940 final, which was played at Thurles on October 13. One report had this to say: "The game was proof once again – if proof is needed – that the town team is at a big disadvantage when it faces fifteen tillers of the soil. Ball manipulation, quick striking and nippy playing, beautiful things in themselves, fail, more often than not, before rugged, sturdy style which has allied to it skill and field craft. One felt on Sunday that all the time the dice were loaded against Cashel, that Moycarkey’s natural advantage in weight and strength would prove Castle's undoing. And so it was.” Cashel were behind 4-7 to 4-2 at the end. The team was: D. Boland, M. McCarthy, F. McCarty, P. Holmes, S. Morrisey, P. Maher, D. Ryan, M. Burke, G. O'Shea, J. Barrett, M. Ryan, W. Moynihan, E. Morrisey, M. Murphy, J. Maher.
Cashel seniors won the West twice during the 40s, 1945 and 1948. In the earlier year they lost by 5-7 3-3 to Roscrea in the county semifinal at Thurles on October 21. In the latter year they lost to Lorrha, 2-4 to 2-3 in the county semifinal at the same venue on December 19. Cashel got a £10 training grant from the West board for this game.
The junior team, which won the West in 1933, left the county semifinal to Bawnmore. Abbey Rangers, a team from the parish came into existence in 1941, and lasted until 1949, won the divisional number 1 junior championship in 1945, but did not advance in the county championship, which wasn't played, as it had been suspended for some of the war years.
Cashel minor teams enjoyed divisional success in 1931, 1940, 1949, and 1952. In 1931 and 1940 divisional teams went forward to the County championship. In 1949 there was no inter- divisional championship. There is no record of advancement beyond the divisional state in 1952.
By 1953, therefore, Cashel had failed to win a county final in any grade, with the exception of 1910, when a county senior hurling title was taking off Racecourse after winning it twice! There was no reason to believe in the beginning of the year that 1953 was going to change anything. And yet did, in a dramatic way.