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Historic Mick Cashman of Blackrock

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MICK CASHMAN: Former Blackrock & Cork Hurler

A hallmark of great sportspeople takes in much more than their ability in the arena. I spoke with Mick on many occasions in the 1970's/80's and although thirteen years younger at that time, when I began writing articles in the early 1980’s, I never encountered such a warm and genuine sports person, as the great Mick Cashman.

I had a fleeting and very brief sojourn with Blackrock after I left my native club, Passage in 1968, and I had my first ever greeting with the great Rockie in 1967 after Passage and Blackrock drew at Carrigaline in the first round of the county senior championship and my direct opponent at midfield was another famous Rockies hurler, Mick Waters.

I remember the occasion vividly because I had just married my wife Eileen, the previous day at Ballyphehane Church on 29th April 1967 and I was prevailed upon to delay our honeymoon, as our Cork 1966 Texaco Hurler Of The Year and my regular midfield partner, Justin McCarthy, was hobbling around on crutches and unable to play.

One of Blackrock's Greatest Hurlers

I had seen Mick Cashman play with Cork many times and I was really smitten by his commanding authority at No.6 for Blackrock and I was even more smitten when I got to know the real man inside the hurler and that was a great bonus.

The Cashman family of Blackrock became a hurling dynasty and the legacy can be traced back to Mick Cashman (1931 – 1990) a Cork goalkeeper of 1950’s/60’s vintage and a Blackrock centre back who was a great pivot in the No.6 jersey. The story of the Blackrock legend is traced back to 1947 when the young buachail, at just 16 years old, was handed the No.1 jersey by another Blackrock legend, Johnny Quirke, when the Rockies were down to play Sarsfields in the Cork senior hurling championship at Douglas.

Blackrock at that time were in the wilderness of Cork hurling and their impeccable reputation, established in the closing years of the 19th century and again in the early years of the 20th century, was in jeopardy, as their inability to claim their 20th county title was in tatters. Despite fielding Cork household names in that barren spell, the Rockies lost substantial ground to the Barrs and Glen Rovers. Mick's 1947 debut v Sars ended in another defeat but the fire and passion of a young Blackrock hurler was now ignited for evermore and that was the birth of another upcoming Blackrock hurling legend.

Most likely the stand out achievement for Mick Cashman came in 1956, when he was a bould 25 years young and captained Blackrock to the Cork senior hurling title. The famous Rockies club had now endured a barren 25 years exile from the honours list and the icing on the cake for the team and their fans, was the fact, they beat their great rivals, Glen Rovers in the final. 

Another stand out achievement in recalling Mick’s club hurling heritage occurred in 1961, when he again captained Blackrock to victory over North Cork divisional side Avondhu, to claim the Rockies 21st county senior title and Mick's second county medal. 

On that historic day in 1961 at the old Cork Athletic Grounds, Mick wore the No.6 jersey. Also on that famous Blackrock team was Mick’s brother in law, Jimmy Brohan, whose sister Anne happened to be Mick Cashman’s wife. The Cork senior hurling championship, during Mick’s career, was the prime attraction of all hurling fans and Cork finals attracted hurling fans from all over Ireland, especially when the final featured Christy Ring and Glen Rovers, the famous St. Finbarrs and Blackrock.

Mick first wore the Cork jersey in minor and junior ranks and was elevated to Cork’s senior goalkeeper in 1951. Cork at that time had legends such as Christ y Ring, Willie John Daly and Paddy Barry of Sars fame in their prime and the future looked rosy for Mick as Cork’s No.1 goalkeeper.

Inter County Innings Blighted by Unfortunate Illness in 1952 

In 1946 Tom Mulcahy of the Barrs wore the No.1 Cork jersey when the rebels were crowned All Ireland champions and also in contention was Glen Rovers, Davy Creedon. Mick Cashman slipped in for 1951 but when Cork set the hurling world alight with 3 All Irelands in a row in 1952/53/54, the No.1 jersey belonged to Davy Creedon. Mick Cashman was 22 when Cork began that historic treble.

Mick first arrived on the inter-county scene at the age of seventeen, when he first linked up with the Cork minor team before later joining the junior side. He joined the senior team during the 1951 championship campaign but ironically success was slow in coming.

In 1952 Mick Cashman was struck down with tonsilitis just before the start of the championship and was forced to withdraw from the starting fifteen. As the man in possesion Mick was destined for a glittering hurling career as Cork's No.1 goalkeeper but that unfortunate illness resulted in former sub goalie, Dave Creedon of Glen Rovers fame, taking over from Mick. Dave proved so effective wearing the No.1 jersey, he managed to dislodge the Blackrock hurler as the first choice goalkeeper for a number of years.

From 1952 to 1954 Cork won a historic 3 in a row All Ireland senior hurling titles and this must have been a heartache for Mick to lose out on such great and historic occasions. He came on as a substitute in the 1953 National League final as Cork defeated Tipperary to take the title but come championship time, Mick was back on the bench.

Come 1954 and Cork again faced old foe Tipperary in the Munster final and this time Mick was berthed in Cork’s half back line and most importantly, the 23 years old Blackrock hurler was in his prime when he collected his first Munster championship medal on the field of play. The Munster final of ’54 was his last championship match for that year.

In 1955 Tipperary beat Cork to claim the provincial title and then Davy Creedon walked away leaving Mick as the future Cork custodian. Firmly berthed between the posts in 1956 (that awful year of the Cork polio outbreak) Limerick were well beaten in the provincial decider, but waiting to avenge that famous 1954 All Ireland defeat by Cork, was a new Wexford team, with Nicky Rackard as the anchor man. The Model county were the reigning All Ireland champions as they faced up to Mick, Christy Ring, Paddy Barry of Sars fame and a great Cork team in the 1956 final at Croke Park. Ringie was the talk of Ireland in 1956 as he was bidding for his 9th All Ireland medal, but Wexford were mighty men and opposition and in another historic final as Cork were beaten 2-14 to 2-08.

1957 proved to be a memorable year for Mick, his family and club, as he lay claim to the captaincy of Cork in the provincial championship but Waterford, with a new found zest, beat the rebels to claim the provincial crown, a game that I attended at Thurles as a buachail óg.

Cork were down in Munster from 1956 to 1966 and during that period Mick again captained Cork seniors in 1962 but fortune was not on Mick’s side and following that unsuccessful Munster campaign of 1962, Mick bade farewell to inter county hurling at the age of 31. However that was not the end of the Mick Cashman hurling years and he still gave Blackrock trojan service for several more years, before biting the bullet after the 1967 county championship and sailing into retirement.

Mick’s reign in the Cork senior jersey took in 10 years and yielded two Munster senior hurling medals and one National hurling league medal also. Mick togged out for the rebels in 17 championship engagements and the curtain came down following the conclusion of the 1962 Munster championship.

Winning six Railway Cup hurling medals in Munster’s blue jersey at a time when this competition was a hugely popular fixture in the calendar, was a great achievement. 

NOTE! The Blackrock centre back is considered as one of Cork’s greatest ever hurlers who never won a coveted All Ireland senior hurling medal on the field of play but in any selection of famous goalkeepers from all counties who never won the precious Celtic Cross, Mick Cashman would surely be the No.1 choice for the No.1 jersey.

It was a privilege knowing a famous Cork hurler but it was an even greater privilege knowing a Famous Son of The White City, Blackrock and Cork, a hurling legend who was a real gentleman with no airs and graces.

Mick and Anne’s two sons, Tom and Jim, also wore the Cork jersey with pride, honour and immense distinction. Another Cork and Blackrock hurling legend is the famous Jimmy Brohan, a brother in law of Mick Cashman. Watch this space for our upcoming Blackrock Online tribute to Jimmy.

Composed by Derry JF Doody,

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