June 05, 1992
The stylish Tomas Mulcahy Cork.
TALENTED THOMAS MULCAHY.
A fruitful last 10 years and sure to be a thorn in Tipp's side come Sunday
Class will always prevail in sport and nowhere does this apply more than in the senior hurling championship series each year. To succeed in this competition a team must possess quality players - a minimum of five down the centre as well as a few others in various positions. That is how I see it, after twenty years experience of viewing countless games writes Tom Morrison.
It is appropriate then that Cork's Thomas Mulcahy falls into this category and without ever essaying the over ambitious has enjoyed a very fruitful period over the past ten seasons. Some people may strive to tell us that he is too lackadaisical and hasn't the bottle to last a ferocious 70 minutes battle, but he has the superior armoury to cause havoc in opposing defences and more importantly, perhaps, the will to use it on his way to goal
Moreover, he has developed a habit of constantly popping up for significant goals at vital stages of games ever since he made his senior championship debut against Limerick in a reply at Pairc Ui Chaoimh in 1983, and some opportunist goals effectively silenced the begrudgers and handsomely justified various selectors faith in him. The confident Glen Rovers man, who stands at 6' 2" and weighs approximately 13 stone, first showed his class at this level in dealing with a strong Galway backline in the "83 All Ireland semi-final.
The game was only seven minutes old when the Tribesman received the first set-back. A lengthy clearance out of defence was chased by Mulcahy who beautifully rounded the experience Niall McInerney and shot fast and low past Tommy Coen, despite the fact that the goalkeeper almost got his stick to it. Galway created a good number of chances to keep in touch for a long while but following Jimmy Murphy's remarkable goal when he doubled on a high centre from John Fenton, it was noticeable that Cork would pull through. Then with infectious confidence Thomás constructed another intelligent move involving a number of colleagues and his accuracy in possession saw the goal umpire wave a green flag for the fifth time as Cork triumphed by 5-14 to 1-16. it was, of course, a private debt to settle with the Westerners, who had beaten them in the semi-finals of 1975-1979.
Although Mulcahy's first All Ireland final appearance ended in a 2-14 to 2-12 defeat by Kilkenny he had the satisfaction of scoring the best goal of the afternoon off the renowned Dick O'Hara. It came early in the second half when he snatched a Bertie Og Murphy stroke out of the sir, double-crossed his opponent before giving Noel Skehan no chance. I'm certainly not trying to take from the Noresiders second successive victory that afternoon but every dog in the streets of Cork knew the replacing of Thomás Mulcahy and John Fenton in the latter stages of the game proved disastrous and it is a tribute to both players that they come back to play notable parts in the Centenary victory of 1984.
Every big occasion gives up it's own heroes and scoring that breath-taking goal arguably the best seen at Head-quarters on final day - against Galway in the 1986 decider is something Thomás will cherish all his life. The game watched by an enthralled 65,45 crowd was fast and open with little regard for the fancy stuff and with the outcome delicately balanced Mulcahy fastened on to a Ger Cunningham clearance and after a fifteen metre run through the centre, leaving several players in his wake, unleashed a bull to the roof of Jo Commins net.
Later in the euphoria of the Cork dressing room, he recalled the score. " Ger Cunningham's mighty puck managed to come my way and just as I caught it and gave Tony Keady the slip. I saw space in front of me and I just kept going. At the same time a couple of players were shouting for the pass but I just kept going although Connor Hayes tried to cut me off. Maybe I could have been hooked but luckily I wasn't and was more than delighted to see it go in" said Thomás, who scored 3-5 in the championship series that season.
For the Westerners, it was another day of tragedy that was repeated in 1990 when the Leesiders again won the final battle on a 5-15 to 2-21 scoreline. Mulcahy was the skipper on this occasion following Glen Rovers county final triumph over Starsfields in 1989 and it was another marvellous occasion when he climbed the Hogan Stand steps to receive the Liam McCarthy trophy from the Association's President John Dowling.
And strange to relate it was another mighty clearance from Cunningham that led to another "special" from Mulcahy ten minutes into the second half. That goal certainly knocked the stuffing out of the losers who led by five points at the interval but began to tire in the latter stages of an exhilarating affair. Fittingly, it was his fourth All Ireland medal including an under 21 award won in 1982 when Cork just about survived another mighty challenge from (you've guessed it) Galway.
Mulcahy is a name which has long been synonymous with Cork's hurling greatness over the years and one hasn't to go back all that far to recall the daring deeds of goalkeeper Tom, who kept the net for the county in a variety of grades from 1941 until 1950. Tom from the Barrs club is no relation to Thomás, whose father Gerald operated effectively with the Leesiders in the "fifties and won quite a few county medals with the Glen.
Gerald collected an All-Ireland minor medal with Cork in 1951 and a junior award four years later. His year as a senior were brief but he lined out at left full back in the now famous Munster final of 1959 when a star-studded Waterford fifteen just held out to beat the Reds by 3-9 to 2-9. Incidentally, that final set attendance records of 55,174 that was subsequently surpassed by the biggest crowd ever at the Limerick Gaelic Grounds between Cork and Tipperary. Gerald Mulcahy has been the biggest influence on Thomás career and Ray Cummins and Jimmy Barry Murphy were players he looked up to when he originally made the county team. For the record four other Glen Rovers players have led Cork to All Ireland victory. They were Con Buckley (1941), Jack Lynch 1942, Christy Ring (1946, 1953, 1954) and Martin O'Doherty (1977)
When Thomás Mulcahy ventures into Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Sunday next for the eagerly awaited showdown with old rivals Tipperary he won't encounter too much difficulty in recognising the opposition because as far back as a dozen years ago. Thomás was on a Cork minor side that played Tipperary parading Ken Hogan, Nicholas English and Joe Hayes. Current football "keeper John Kerins and Tony O'Sullivan were other members of that Cork side who went under by seven points
Mulcahy's disappointment was increased the following year when the Clare minors won by 2-6 to 0-6 at Bruff. Jim Cashman played in goal of all places but the Reds failed to make headway up front despite the threat from the Glen Roversman on the " forty" as well as Paul O'Connor, Kieran Kingston, Tony O'Sullivan and Brendan O'Sullivan in other areas of the field. Indeed, it looked as if a good number of players might pass on without winning any honour at underage level at the time but out of the blue came the under 21 triumph of 1982 with notable victories over Waterford, Limerick, Antrim and Galway. Ger Cunningham, Tony O'Sullivan, Kevin Hennessy and Thomás Mulcahy are the survivors from that winning side.
It may be a mere statistic, but it is worth remembering that Thomás Mulcahy lined out in the two Munster finals of 1986 when the hurlers won their 5th consecutive title against Clare (2-18 to 3-12) and then put in a great seventy minutes effort before losing to Kerry by 0-12 to 0-8 both games, incidentally were staged in Killarney. His championship debut came against Clare at Fermoy that year but the pity of it was that he ultimately failed to join the elite band of men who have won Munster senior medals in both codes with the county. His hurling awards were won in the years 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986 and 1990. Initially, he was honoured with an All Star award in 1984 and another in 1986 along with Ger Cunningham, John Fenton, Kevin Hennessy, Denis Mulcahy, Tony O'Sullivan and Jimmy Barry Murphy
29 this month, Thomás Mulcahy's experience is bound to prove invaluable in the heat of Sunday's epic clash when Tipperary will be bidding to gain their first championship win on Cork soil in almost seventy years. The disappointing part from Cork's viewpoint was not so much that they lost the final after two games last year but they had every chance after going seven points in front twice the first day and nine at Semple stadium. It's hard to forecast a verdict but let's hope it will prove an encounter to match the great occasion.
Taken from Hogan Stand 05-06-92
Most Read Stories