Memories of '48 - Cashel Win 7th West Senior Hurling Title

The Nationalist & Tipperary Star, January 17, 2008


This year is the sixtieth anniversary of Cashel King Cormac's success in winning their seventh West senior hurling title. The year 1948 also marked the end of a very successful period in the history of the club. During the course of fifteen championships, commencing in 1934, Cashel had won seven titles and led the divisional roll of honour, with Clonoulty-Rossmore, Kickhams and Eire Óg following with four each. In contrast it was to be seventeen years before Cashel were successful again.

When the adjourned convention of the West Board was held at Dundrum on February 15, 1948, seven teams affiliated in the senior hurling championship. An unusual affiliation was Geraldines, a team drawn from Holyford, Kilcommon and Rearcross, who were joined by Glengar players. Cashel were drawn against Eire Óg in the first round. The latter had a very strong team at the period and had played in the previous seven finals, winning four and losing three. Cashel got the better of them and defeated Golden-Kilfeacle in the semi-final at Clonoulty on August 22. Golden looked good at the interval, leading by six points, and increased their lead shortly after the resumption, but ably led by Jim Devitt, Cashel fought back with determination, wiped out the lead and finished seven points in front.

In the other half of the draw Geraldines defeated Galtee Rovers St. Peacaun's, while Kickhams overcame Clonoulty-Rossmore. Kickhams went on to defeat Geraldines in the semi-final at Cappawhite on August 29.

The West final, between Cashel and Kickhams,was played at Golden on September 5. Kickhams had already defeated Cashel in the senior league but the King Cormacs were to reverse the decision on this occasion. Cashel had three players with county experience, Jim Devitt, who had won a senior All-Ireland medal with Tipperary in 1945, and Paddy O'Brien and Billy Hickey, who were on the unsuccessful county junior teams in 1946, 1947 and 1948.

Kickhams got of to a flying start and netted two goals. They were ahead by four points at half-time and looked good, but Cashel fought back and won by 3-6 to 3-4.

The West Board gave Cashel a training grant of £10 and they played Lorrha in the county semi-final at Thurles on September19. There were 6,500 spectators present. Cashel's fortunes were the reverse of those in the West final. They were the better side in the first half, having played against the breeze, but were only level, 1-0 to 0-3 at the interval, the Cashel goal coming from a melee. They went ahead with two points after half-time but were caught by a Lorrha rally midway in the second half, which produced two goals and a point within three minutes. As a result Cashel's two-point advantage was turned into a five-point deficit.. Try as they would they couldn't reduce it until the final minutes. In this period Jim Devitt, who was doing trojan work at centrefield, pointed a free and sent another to the net to reduce the deficit to the minimum of margins in a final score of 2-4 to 2-3. The general consensus among neutrals after the game was that Cashel had lost rather than Lorrha had won.

Michael Burke, who was one of the finest hurlers in the club in the late thirties and early forties had retired after the 1945 West final success, but was recalled to corner-forward for the game against Lorrha. The lineout on the day was as follows: Paddy O'Brien, Mickey Devitt, Jackie Corcoran, Eddie Marnane, Mickey Murphy, Jim Devitt, Donal Ryan, Sean Dunne Billy Hickey. Richie Ryan, Bill O'Keeffe, Pat Devitt, Michael Burke, Patrick Darcy. Johnny Hickey.

The team showed a number of changes from the lineout in the West final. According to the only picture of the team, which was probably taken at the final at Golden, there were other changes than Burke. The picture includes fifteen players and three of them, John Fitzell, Martin Hackett and Mick Cody, are not included in the county semi-final lineout. As well as Michael Burke, Donal Ryan and Bill O'Keeffe, who hailed from Moycarkey and lived at Mocklershill, are included. Ryan and O'Keeffe had come on as subs in the West final.

Others in the back row of the photograph are Mick Fogarty, who had played and was a good forward, but on this occasion provided hackney service, Willie English, a farmer from Freighduff, who was a team mentor, Jock Murphy, who was a brother of the Dasher's, Stedie Morrissey, who was trainer of the team, Tommy Prendergast, secretary of the club, and a very yong Peter Looby. In the middle row are Tom O'Sullivan, a brother of Jim's, whose father had a blacksmith's shop beside E. D. Ryan's in Friar Street, and Michael Meehan, who worked as a boots in Ryan's Hotel.

There are only two survivors, Jackie Corcoran and Patrick Darcy. Both are still very much alive. Jackie is hale and hearty at eighty-five years and has been residing in Acorn Lodge for five years. He remembers the team as a good one 'but we had nobody over us.' The training they did was fairly elementary. The field was on the Ardmayle Road and they pucked the ball around, did a few runs around the field and then went home. There wasn't much celebration after the West final either, no meal or banquet to celebrate the occasion, just back to town for a few pints at Davern's. The abiding belief in Cashel is that had Cashel beaten Lorrha in the county semi-final, Paddy O'Brien, rather than Tony Reddin, his opposite on that day at Thurles, would have gone on to be the Tipperary goalkeeper.

Patrick Darcy is also in good fettle after all these years and can still be seen striding tall and straight down Dominick's Street and other places in the town despite his eighty-eight years. He says he doesn't feel it's sixty years ago and his chief memory is not so much the victory at Golden as the loss at Thurles: 'We owned the ball and should have won easily', he keeps repeating.

It was a very different world sixty years ago. The chairman of the West Board was the very colourful Sean O'Dwyer, better known as Jack Sonny, from Knockavilla. Elected in 1935 he was to hold the position for thirty-five years and was known for some memorable speeches. In his speech to the 1948 convention he said: 'It is a sad commentary on our vaunted emancipation to hear Holywood jargon taking the place of our powerful Gaelic salutations, while the soul-debasing foreign film takes the place of our Irish play and the immodest jungle dance supplants and is immeasurably more popular than the ceilidhe.'

At the same convention the Eire Óg club, through their delegate, Bill O'Donnell, had a motion passed calling for the abolition of the parish rule. He argued that standards in the championship had dropped because rural clubs were unable to field fifteen players of senior quality.

The same club proposed that umpires, as well as referees, be empowered to submit reports of games, and also sought that there be a closed date in the county for all games from November 15 until the first Sunday in February. 

More Information on the Winners of '48 (Nationalist & Tipperary Star, January 24, 2008)

In the article last week on the Cashel King Cormac's team that won the 1948 West senior hurling final, the actual lineout for the final wasn't given. Contrary to the opinion given in the article, Paddy O'Brien did not play in goals but at corner-forward. The lineout was as follows: Martin Hackett, Mick Cody, Jackie Corcoran, Ned Murnane, Mickey Murphy (capt.), Jim Devitt, Mickey Devitt, Billy Hickey and Sean Dunne, Richie Ryan, Johnny Hickey, John Fitzelle, Paddy O'Brien, Patrick Darcy, Pat Devitt.

Kickhams led by 2-3 to 1-2 at the interval but Cashel improved well after the interval. According to the match report in the local papers 'With the turover came a big change and Cashel's centrefield pair, Sean Dunne and Billy Hickey, emerged as heroes. They mastered Ryan and S. McCormack and taking command at the vital midfield sector, provided opportunities which P. Devitt and O'Brien utilised to the full and crashed in the crucial scores that ensured the King Cormac's victory.'

The game was refereed by Timmy Hammersley of Clonoulty. Entrance to the game at Golden was one shilling, with sixpence extra for the sideline. When he presented the cup to the Cashel captain, West chairman, Sean O'Dwyer, paid a special tribute to Mickey Murphy for 'his trojan work for his club over a number of years,' and exhorted the King Cormac's to train hard to win the county title for the West.

But it was not to be as Cashel lost to Lorrha by 2-4 to 2-3 in the county semi-final at Thurles. According to the match report 'Cashel came to Thurles on Sunday in force. The special train brought a great crowd of enthusiastic supporters wearing the green and red favours of the King Cormac's, and led by the Cashel Brass and Reed Band playing lively airs. By car, bus and bicycle they came also, and there was a real Munster final atmosphere in the town during the morning.'

The ball was thrown in by his Grace, the Archbishop of Cashel, Dr. Kinane, after the Sean McDermott Pipe Band, Thurles had played 'Faith of Our Fathers', and the National Anthem was played by Cashel Brass and Reed Band. Paddy 'Sweeper' Ryan of Moycarkey was the referee.

Although Cashel won the toss, they opted to play against the wind and were odds-on favourites at the interval as the sides were level: Cashel 1-0 Lorrha 0-3. When the King Cormac's got two points early in the second half from Sean Dunne and Pat Devitt, it cofirmed the favouritism, but Lorrha had a purple patch in the middle of the second half to go five points in front and, although Cashel got it down to a point, they couldn't get the scores to give them victory.

Cashel lined out as follows: Paddy O'Brien, Mickey Devitt, Jackie Corcoran, Ned Murnane, Mickey Murphy (capt.), Jim Devitt, Donal Ryan, Sean Dunne, Billy Hickey, Richie Ryan, Bill O'Keeffe, Pat Devitt, Michael Burke, Patrick Darcy, Johnny Hickey. Also on the panel were the following: Tom Devitt, J. B. Hickey, Martin Hackett, Paddy O'Keeffe, Willie English, John Fitzelle, Eddie O'Grady, Charlie Power.