Picking the best Cork hurlers since 1970 who made one championship appearance

Picking the best Cork hurlers since 1970 who made one championship appearance
Cork forward Brian O'Keeffe juggles his way past Galway defender Fergal Healy and a flying hurley in the All Ireland U21 final in Thurles. Picture: Des Barry

OVER the last 50 years, Cork’s summer selections have included a catalogue of players, who for one reason or another, played but a solitary game in the heat of championship.

Here we pick our best 15 from the players on the fringes of the Rebel hurling set-up, who made fleeting championship appearances.

1. Martin Coleman (Ballinhassig) — 2008 All-Ireland qualifier v Galway: Coleman had been on the periphery of the team throughout Cork’s glory years where he was an able understudy to Dónal Óg Cusack. Owing to the consistent brilliance of the Cloyne man, chances between the sticks were few and far between. After Cusack was sent off just before half-time in an All-Ireland qualifier against Galway in 2008 however, Coleman was sprung into action, playing his part in a thrilling comeback.

Martin Coleman.
Martin Coleman.

2. Willie Cashman (St Finbarr’s) — 1989 Munster semi-final replay v Waterford: Cashman was a mainstay for the ‘Barr’s throughout the ’80s, winning county titles in ’82, ’84 and ’88. He also lined out at half-back on Cork’s All-Ireland winning U21 side of 1982. He made his Cork debut in ’89, coming in as a replacement for Christy Connery at corner-back for the Munster semi-final replay defeat to Waterford.

3. James Nagle (Midleton) — 2011 Munster quarter-final v Tipperary: Having impressed throughout the 2011 league campaign, Nagle replaced Shane O’Neill midway through the first half of the opening round of that year’s Munster Championship. It was his only year on Cork’s championship panel. Predominantly a half-back, Nagle won a senior championship for Midleton in 2013, their first in 22 years.

4. Darren Browne (Kanturk) — 2019 All-Ireland qualifier v Westmeath: A half-back for Kanturk, Browne was introduced for Mark Ellis midway through Cork’s 23-point defeat of Westmeath, becoming the latest player to etch himself into the record books as an intercounty championship player. Browne hadn’t been part of Kieran Kingston’s plans for Cork this year.

5. Paul Tierney (Blackrock) — 2004 Munster quarter-final v Kerry: Tierney starred at centre-back as Cork reached the All-Ireland minor-final in 2000, before lining out in midfield for Blackrock a year later, as the Rockies won their first county championship in 20 years. Having joined the Cork panel in 2003, he made his only championship appearance as a substitute in a 21-point defeat of Kerry in the opening round of the 2004 Munster Championship. Tierney subsequently gave up hurling to concentrate on ultra-running.

Paul Tierney.
Paul Tierney.

6. Johnny O’Callaghan (Ballyhea) — 1986 All-Ireland semi-final v Antrim: O’Callaghan lined out for the Cork minors in 1981 and 1982, losing on both occasions to Clare and Tipperary respectively. An integral part of the Ballyhea team that unexpectedly reached a senior county final in 1986, O’Callaghan also made his only championship appearance for Cork that year, replacing an injured John Hodgins at corner-back in the All-Ireland semi-final defeat of Antrim.

7. Brendan Lombard (Ballinhassig) — 2004 Munster quarter-final v Kerry: Lombard captained the Cork intermediates to All-Ireland success from half-back in 2003, a year which also saw him win the inaugural All-Ireland Junior Club Championship with Ballinhassig.

The following year, Lombard featured in the opening round of the Munster Championship for Cork, albeit as a forward, replacing Jonathan O’Callaghan in the comprehensive defeat of Kerry.

Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Picture: Eddie O'Hare

8. John Griffin (St Finbarr’s) — 1989 Munster semi-final v Waterford: Having played for the Cork U21’s in 1986, Griffin hurled for the Barrs throughout the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, lining out at half-back in their county final defeat of Carbery in 1993. He joined the Cork senior panel in ’88 and made his debut the following year, partnering Teddy McCarthy in midfield, in the drawn game against Waterford. He was replaced early in the second half by Michael Mullins and dropped for the replay which Cork subsequently lost.

9. Dan Murphy (Ballincollig) — 1998 Munster semi-final v Clare: Murphy joined the Cork senior hurling panel in 1997, having won a minor All-Ireland at midfield in ’95 and U21 All-Ireland’s in both ’97 and ’98 from centre-back. He made only one senior championship appearance, however, replacing Fergal Ryan in the first round of the 1998 Munster Championship. Murphy left the Cork panel after 1999.

Dan Murphy battling Ken McGrath.
Dan Murphy battling Ken McGrath.

10. Michael Dineen (Blackrock) — 1989 Munster semi-final v Waterford: One of five debutants for the opening round of the 1989 Munster Championship, Dineen was a surprise selection at centre-forward. He was replaced by Michael Mullins shortly after half-time.

A native of Ballydehob, Dineen played minor hurling for Cork in 1983, representing Gabriel Rangers. He transferred to Blackrock in the late ‘80s but drifted out of the game soon after.

11. Connie Kelly (Cloughduv) — 1971 Munster semi-final v Limerick: Kelly won a Junior County Championship with Cloughduv in 1970 as well as playing an integral role as Muskerry reached the county final, losing out to St. Finbarr’s. He also featured for the Cork U21s that year, scoring 2-7 in the All-Ireland final defeat of Wexford. The following year, he scored 0-7 (five from frees) as Cork fell to a two-point defeat to Limerick in the Munster semi-final.

12. Colm O’Neill (Midleton) — 1985 Munster semi-final v Tipperary: Lining out at centre-forward, O’Neill claimed an historic county title for Midleton in 1983, their first in 67 years. His inter-county dual-career only lasted one season however.

In 1985, he came on for Kevin Hennessy towards the end of Cork’s six-point defeat of Tipperary in the Munster final but played no part in their subsequent All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Galway. O’Neill went on to win two All-Ireland’s with the footballers in ’89 and ’90.

13. Tadhg Murphy (Sarsfields) — 1977 All-Ireland final v Wexford: Best remembered for his footballing exploits, the late goal to win the 1983 Munster final against Kerry in particular, Murphy was also a distinguished hurler. He won All-Ireland minor medals in both codes in 1974. Having broken onto the senior hurling panel in ’76, Murphy made his championship bow the following year, coming on as a late sub in the All-Ireland final victory over Wexford. From there on in however, football took over.

14. John-Paul King (Newtownshandrum) — 2004 All-Ireland semi-final v Wexford: King played at corner-forward throughout Newtown’s glory years at the start of the millennium, winning four county titles, three Munster titles and an All-Ireland during a trophy-laden decade. He joined the Cork senior squad following Newtown’s victorious All-Ireland campaign in ’04 and came on as a late substitute for Joe Deane in the All-Ireland semi-final defeat of Wexford.

Ballincollig's David Carroll and Stephen O'Keeffe against John Paul King and Jerry O'Conner. Picture: James Flynn
Ballincollig's David Carroll and Stephen O'Keeffe against John Paul King and Jerry O'Conner. Picture: James Flynn

15. Brian O’Keeffe (Blackrock) — 2002 All-Ireland qualifier v Galway: O’Keefe was a prodigious talent at underage, captaining the Cork minor side that won the 1995 All-Ireland. He also won U21 All-Irelands in ’97 and ’98, as well three senior titles with Blackrock. He made his inter-county debut in 2002, coming on to score a point in a nine-point qualifier defeat to Galway.

Brian O'Keeffe, Blackrock, battles Alan Joyce, Seandún in the 1999 SHC quarter-final. Picture: Maurice O'Mahony
Brian O'Keeffe, Blackrock, battles Alan Joyce, Seandún in the 1999 SHC quarter-final. Picture: Maurice O'Mahony

Manager: Tom Cashman (Blackrock) — 2001 Munster semi-final v Limerick: Having won four All-Ireland’s with Cork, Cashman’s brief reign as inter-county manager was less successful. He acted as selector to Jimmy Barry-Murphy when Cork won the All-Ireland in 1999, before taking over as manager in late 2000. 

His sole championship match at the helm saw Cork lose at home to Limerick in the opening round of the 2001 Munster Championship. He resigned soon after.

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