Tom Cashman v Gerald McCarthy: You decide who is crowned Cork's best city hurler

In the Battle of the Bridge, the Echo has asked you to pick your favourite players since 1972 north and south of the River Lee, now we're at the final
Tom Cashman v Gerald McCarthy: You decide who is crowned Cork's best city hurler

The Battle of the Bridge final pairing.

WITH your help, we’re looking to pick the best hurler from either side of St Patrick's Bridge from the last 50 years of action.

The Echo has pitched some of Cork’s finest hurling stars from the northside and southside of Cork city together for a series of fun head-to-head battles. 

Have your say in The Battle of the Bridge.
Have your say in The Battle of the Bridge.

Your votes decided who got through and you can see the full list of 16 northside and 16 southside players here.

We're now down to the final between Blackrock's Tom Cashman and St Finbarr's Gerald McCarthy.  

TOM CASHMAN (Blackrock):

TOM Cashman has four All-Ireland medals – not exactly a unique haul in Cork but what sets the Blackrock man apart is that he played in three different positions across the victorious seasons.

Initially, he was midfield for the second and third legs of the 1976-78 three-in-a-row; then, in 1984 he was right half-back and in 1986 he captained the Rebels to glory from centre-back. Throw in a late 1970s stint at number 12 and his versatility is further underlined.

“I was in midfield with Tim Crowley in my first couple of years,” he said.

“Gerald would have been midfield with Pat Moylan the previous year and then Timmy and myself came in. About two years later, when John Fenton came in and made midfield his own, Gerald and Timmy and myself were the half-forward line! Once you could hurl, you could play anywhere, really.” 

Tom Cashman after captaining Cork to a minor win over Tipp in 1975.
Tom Cashman after captaining Cork to a minor win over Tipp in 1975.

Cashman, his Blackrock clubmate Dermot McCurtain and Crowley came on to the panel after Cork’s 1976 win and they immediately integrated themselves.

“When we came into the team, we were accepted straight away and we were told that we’d learn our apprenticeship with those guys and we did,” he said.

“In your first couple of years, to start off and win two All-Irelands was fantastic. 

The hope then was that the experience you’d gain from these guys could be passed on to the lads coming on in the 1980s. It was a great learning curve.” 

Prior to that, Cashman had won a minor All-Ireland double with Cork in 1974 as well as helping the county to U21 hurling glory in 1976 and winning the county SHC with Blackrock in 1975.

Despite his tender years, he displayed real maturity in the senior team – in 1977 and 1978, he was the Munster final man of the match and he ended both years with All-Star Awards. While Cork lost the 1982 and 1983 finals, he won a third All-Star in ’83 and was integral for the 1984 centenary win.

With the Rockies, further county senior titles were added in 1978, 1979 and 1985, the latter victory earning him the Cork captaincy for 1986. 

Liam Maher attacks for Tipp, chased by Cork's Tom Cashman in the 1984 Munster final. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland
Liam Maher attacks for Tipp, chased by Cork's Tom Cashman in the 1984 Munster final. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland

After an eighth Munster medal was secured, Cork made it to the All-Ireland final against Galway, whom they had lost to in the 1985 semi-final, but the tables were turned in the decider as Cashman won his fourth Celtic Cross.

Later, he would serve as a selector as Jimmy Barry-Murphy led Cork to win the 1999 All-Ireland and then he became manager after JBM’s departure.

Jimmy Barry-Murphy, Tom Cashman and the late Fred Sheedy. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Jimmy Barry-Murphy, Tom Cashman and the late Fred Sheedy. Picture: Denis Minihane.

As a player, his legacy was secured with selection on the Cork hurling Team of the Millennium.

GERALD McCARTHY (St Finbarr's):

GERALD McCarthy is the holder of a special piece of GAA history that will never be matched – but his Cork hurling career almost ended before it properly began.

The St Finbarr’s man was still a teenager when he was named as a sub for the 1964 national hurling league semi-final against Wexford in Croke Park. The night before the match, some of the players went to the cinema but, with the Phoenix Park closed, they had to take a longer route back to the hotel and missed curfew. Trainer Jim ‘Tough’ Barry was not happy.

“I stood at the back, trying to stay out of the way,” Gerald says, “but he pointed straight at me and said, ‘As for you – this is your last time ever travelling with the Cork team!’ I was rooming with Mick Archer and I could hardly sleep that night with the worry.

“The following morning at breakfast, Tough came up to the table. ‘I want to apologise to you,’ he said, ‘I thought you were the taxi driver!’” 

Cork hurler Gerald McCarthy cutting stone for St Finbarr's Hospital in 1970.
Cork hurler Gerald McCarthy cutting stone for St Finbarr's Hospital in 1970.

Having overcome that early bump in the road, Gerald developed into a top player for the Barrs and Cork. 

In 1965, he helped his club to win the county title and the Togher club chose him as county captain for 1966. It would prove to be a year to remember.

The Rebels claimed a first Munster title in a decade as Waterford were beaten and they made it to the All-Ireland final against Kilkenny, seeking to end a drought dating back to 1966. Any nerves within the young squad were doused on the bus journey in from the West County Hotel as they sang rebel songs and McCarthy lifted the cup named for his namesake Liam as Cork won by 3-9 to 1-10.

Later that year, Gerald captained the Cork U21s to win that All-Ireland as they beat Wexford after two replays. With players in the U20 grade now prevented from playing in the senior championship, his record cannot be equalled.

Four more All-Ireland medals followed, in 1970 and the three-in-a-row from 1976-78, while he helped the Barrs to three more county hurling titles as well as three Munster wins and two All-Irelands.

Gerald McCarthy celebrates a Cork win in Thurles. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Gerald McCarthy celebrates a Cork win in Thurles. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Later, he was in charge for three Barrs county wins and he was trainer as Cork won the 1990 All-Ireland, later going on to manage Waterford and his native county as well as helping the Cork camogie side to win Munster in 2006.

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