August 07, 1992
The ever-dependable Sean O'Gorman
In command of his corner of the Cork defence.
Although it is unlikely to product the same passion and intensity, the first semi-final of next Sunday's double programme at Headquarters is equally intriguing. Down have at last seen a gleam of light at the end of a dark tunnel following their sensational victory over Antrim in the Ulster final and they will be very determined to lower Cork's colours.
The Leesiders, in contrast, have been in the spotlight since defeating the holders Tipperary last June and one thing is certain, they will not underestimate the Mournemen's challenge. In recent years, Antrim were the experts on knocking aside the favourite theory (and they almost caught Cork on the hop in 1986) so not surprisingly Fr. Michael O'Brien, Gerald McCarthy and their co-selectors will not take anything for granted.
Even if Cork win it will be a long hard slog before the end of the seventy minutes at Croke Park on September 6 with the likes of Kilkenny and Galway breathing down their backs. However, on the strength of their showing in Munster they may well be rewarded at the end of the day provided the chosen side and, no doubt, a few subs play to their full potential. I know the pulse is quickening and I must say that I have nothing but admiration for the likes of Ger Cunningham, Denis Mulcahy, Denis Walsh, Jim Cashman, Teddy McCarthy, Tony O'Sullivan, Tomas Mulcahy, Ger Fitzgerald, John Fitzgibbon and Kevin Hennessy when it comes to the crunch.
However, with just two series of games left, one of their principal weapons at the back will be the highly-talented Sean O'Gorman, who surely must be a candidate for any awards for dedication, commitment and the will-to-win. I know the older you get the harder you have to work, but O'Gorman's skill, talents and elegant hurling are a major plus factor, so nearing perfection on most occasions and fulfilled to the utmost. He tackles bravely, shows a brainy anticipation and really doesn't mess around with the ball when in possession.
He has played in nearly every position on the field at all levels and actually lined out at full forward alongside club colleague Pat Buckley and John Fitzgibbon when Cork lost to Wexford in the Oireachtas semi final last Autumn. However, he also played there in the 1989 Championship defeat by Waterford and scored three points off the talented Damien Byrne. Very skilful in the air and on the ground, he was quickly moved back to a defensive position and played a starring role when Cork denied Tipperary their fourth successive Munster crown in July of 1990
Sean, who was 32 last May, and his colleagues began that Championship campaign with a facile 3-16 to 3-7 win over Kerry at Tralee where he lined out at full back and flanked by John Considine and Denis Walsh. He was on the substitutes bench for the subsequent semi final against Waterford, but made a very successful return for the final and brilliantly overcame the threat of Pat Fox who was surprisingly replaced at the interval. My memory of that game is that Cork fell five points behind in the first half but with Mark Foley (the scorer of 2-7), Tony O'Sullivan and John Fitzgibbon coming much more into the picture, in the second half, they finished in a blaze of glory and won 4-16 to 2-14
O'Gorman's inclusion for the Thurles game was part of the selectors response to the feeling that they had to tighten up at the back and while they drifted in and out of things against Antrim, the final was an unforgettable afternoon when the Liam McCarthy Cup was taken from under Galway's noses. Later in the dressing room, O'Gorman spoke of the tremendous spirit of a side that under difficult circumstances refused to accept defeat and the Milford man played a crucial role in holding the ebullient Michael McGrath to one point. He was, in fact, the oldest member of that winning team but is now no longer the senior citizen following the re-introduction of Midleton's Denis Mulcahy, who will be 36 on August 15.
It really has been an amazing three seasons for O'Gorman who helped his club Milford to win County Junior hurling title in 1981 and an intermediate crown the following year. He loves his hurling as much now as he ever did and even if his club or county lose you won't find him too disillusioned. He will consider the game quietly and is such an honest player that even if he plays well he will find some faults with his own game. Life in the last line of defence is a tough place to be. Ask Cunningham, Corcoran or Mulcahy. One flick from the opposition and the ball will nestle in the net. Their job is to prevent it from happening and when it does there's little point in dwelling on what should have been done.
Sean O'Gorman was first chosen for Cork away back in 1977 when he scored five points from the full forward berth in the Munster Minor final victory over Limerick in Thurles. He later followed this up with six in All-Ireland semi final victory over Galway and although Cork lost the final after reply to Kilkenny he was again one of their outstanding personalities.
He played with assurance and confidence through the 1978 season and his vision and alertness helped the Leeside youths to get sweet revenge on 1-15 to 1-8 scoreline over the Noresiders. All the Cork forwards earned high marks that afternoon, especially O'Gorman who was responsible for Cork's goal, although it took a deflection from the Kilkenny corner back, Paddy Crowley. Interestingly, Ger Cunningham lined out in goal while Pat Hartnett's brother John had a brilliant outing at midfield. Who could have though then that Cunningham and O'Gorman would be still pulling their weight as colleagues fourteen years later.
We saw plenty of good hurling from Sean during his Under 21 days, but it was difficult to command a place on the Senior side due to the strength of the squad. By 1980, men like Brian Murphy, Martin O'Doherty, John Horgan, Denis Coughlan, who had captained the footballers in the 1967 All-Ireland final, John Crowley, Dermot McCurtain, Tim Crowley, Seanie O'Leary and Ray Cummins were still part and parcel of a Leeside team that won the League but lost the subsequent Munster final to Limerick. Strangely, the Under 21 side failed to make an impact, but they looked fairly well armed when they faced Tipperary in the 1980 Munster final at Fermoy with O'Gorman, Sean O'Brien and Tadhg McCarthy in defence and Denis Walsh (Cloughduv), John Hodgins, Tony Coyne and Kevin Hennessy in attack. As against that Tipp paraded Cormac Bonnar, Brian Heffernan, Pat Fox, Philip Kennedy, Bobby Ryan and Donie O'Connell and won by 4-11 to 2-9.
Although Sean made his Senior debut against Tipperary in the League late in 1979 he had to wait until 1982 for the Championship call up and figured as a substitute in all the games leading up to the All-Ireland final against Kilkenny. Much had been expected of this highly skilled team that had annihilated Waterford to the tune of 5-31 to 3-6 in the Munster final, but when All-Ireland final day came round, the Noresiders held all the aces and won in commanding fashion - 3-18 to 1-13. Sean was on the substitutes bench with Daithi Cooney, Donal O'Grady, Francie Collins, John Fenon, Bertie Og Murphy and Kevin Hennessey.
Another golden Summer for Cork in 1983 with the Milford schoolteacher still on the panel but after Limerick, Waterford and Galway were beaten Kilkenny held out to win their second successive title by 2-14 to 2-12. To their eternal credit Cork fought back after going ten points behind early in the second half but the winners pinned them down in the last five minutes when the game was there for the taking.
Surprisingly enough, O'Gorman's first Senior medal was won in the famous Croke Park arena when he figured at centre back on the team that defeated Laois in the 1984 Centenary Cup final. The Reds were handsome winners that day and later retained their provincial crown, but without the irreproachable North Corkman who had to make way for John Crowley in the number six berth. The 1990 All-Star winner missed out on Cork's two All-Ireland triumphs of '84 and '86 but made a comeback in 1987 and came on as a sub at wing back against Tipperary in the Munster final replay at Killarney.
With great authority, dependability and powerful play Sean has shown that as a hurler he does not walk in anyone's shadow. He has never spared himself in any game and will continue to command his own corner of defence in his usual masterly fashion.
Taken from Hogan Stand Magazine 07-08-92
Written by Tom Morrisson
Most Read Stories