Historic Croke Cup Remembered

The Nationalist, May 16th, 2009


The members of Cashel C.B.S. team, who won the Croke Cup for the first time in 1959, came together last weekend to celebrate the historic win against Thurles C.B.S. on May 6, 1959.

The Croke Cup competition was the first Tipperary post primary hurling competition for Christian Brothers Schools. It started in 1933 and catered for under-16 players.

The competition was dominated by Thurles C.B.S. and to a lesser extent by Nenagh C.B.S. during the early years. The Abbey School in Tipperary made a breakthrough in 1952 and won it again in 1955 and 1957. Cashel tasted their first success in 1959 and have won it eight times in all.

There have been a few changes in the competition down the years. It catered for players up to sixteen and a half years for a short period of time. In 1980 it was opened up to all post-primary schools in the county and about ten years ago the age qualification was reduced to under-15.

Prestigious Competition

The Croke Cup was the most prestigious schools' hurling competition in the county, after the Harty Cup, until the inauguration of the Fitzgerald Cup in 1971. The winning teams received a very fine trophy, which was a replica of the Ardagh Chalice.

Cashel lost out to Thurles C.B.S. in the 1958 final on a scoreline, 5-5 to 2-6, very similar, only in reverse order, to that when they won in 1959. The defeated side was as follows: Michael Fogarty, Jimmy Hickey. John Joe Moloney, Donal O'Dwyer, John O'Brien, Tommy Kelly, Billy Eakins, Albert McGovern, Jerry Purcell, Philip Maher, Tom Breen, Davy Ryan, Liam Hyland, Jimmy Davin, John Darmody. Before the final the Cashel C.B.S. Flageolet Band rendered the National Anthem and impressed all with their fine playing of Irish airs during the interval.

The report of the 1959 final that appeared in the 'Nationalist' was very brief, and even briefer in the 'Tipperary Star'. Maybe it was because Thurles were beaten!

According to the report Cashel led up to the fortieth minute, when Thurles drew level 'and looked as if they were going to add another trophy to their already imposing list.'

McGovern Outstanding

That was not to be for, at that vital stage, the Cashel boys rallied under their inspiring captain, Albert McGovern, who played a great game from start to finish.

'Picking up neatly within range of the Thurles goal, he judged accurately and sent the ball soaring gracefully over the bar to return the lead to his side.'

This was the turning point of the game. Soon after Albert was again to the fore, finishing off a great movement to the Thurles net. In the closing stages Cashel added two more points for a comprehensive win of 5-3 to 2-4.

The winning panel was as follows: Jimmy O'Sullivan (R.I.P.), Paddy Purtill, Jimmy Hickey, Paddy O'Leary, Philip Maher, Davy Ryan, John McGrath, Liam Hyland (1-0), Michael Fogarty, John Murphy (R.I.P.), Albert McGovern (capt.), 3-2, John Scott (0-1), John Darmody, Michael Purtill (1-0), Brian Sheridan, Tom Breen, Jimmy Wardick, Mickey O'Sullivan, Denis Ryan, Liam Fennell.

For the official photograph of the team, taken on the steps of the entrance to the C.B.S., the team wore the jerseys of the Cashel King Cormac's. Apparently there weren't enough jerseys in the C.B.S. set for the full panel. In the photograph of the seventeen taken the day of the match, the players are wearing the C.B.S. jerseys of green and gold. The trainer was Rev. Brother Boland, who didn't appear in the picture either.

The celebrations on the occasion were of a modest nature, a few bottles of Cidona and some biscuits supplied by team supporters Michael Davitt and John Joe Grogan.

The celebrations last weekend were of a more substantial kind with a dinner in the Cashel Palace Hotel, some stronger refreshments and a photograph on the steps of the old C.B.S., where they all posed proudly fifty years ago.