CORK hurling has an endless list of All-Ireland senior hurling winners on the field of play, some of them the greatest players ever to grace the game.
An All-Ireland medal at senior level is the highest honour the game can bestow on you.
However, for every medal winner, there is somebody who was not quite as fortunate, players who wore the red jersey with distinction but who did not win that coveted Celtic Cross.
In this exercise, we will try to come up with a Cork 15 who never got that medal. Not one of the current squad have an All-Ireland medal to their name but we are not going to include any of them right now because, hopefully, there’s still time for them.
It must be taken into account too that Cork hurling has had periods in the wilderness when you had great individuals but as a collective, the team was not quite good enough.
Cork went from ’54 to ’66 without an All-Ireland, from 1990 to 1999 and, of course, the current famine has lasted 15 years.
So to the number one position and here we have chosen Mick Cashman, the late father of Tom and Jim.
He was as fine a keeper as Cork have ever had, being the custodian for Munster in the Railway Cup when there were very few Cork players being considered in the ‘50s and ‘60s.
He was between the sticks at a time when Cork did not challenge strongly For that goalie’s spot, honourable mention must go to Finbarr O’Neill, Timmy Murphy and Martin Coleman jnr.
The three full-backs we have selected are Jimmy Brohan, Denis O’Riordan and Shane O’Neill.
Brohan, like his great friend Cashman, was a great Cork servant, a fine corner-back who too figured on Munster Railway Cup teams when it was so competitive.
Denis Riordan from the Glen a key player in ’66 but missed the final because of injury and so did not win that medal on the field of play.
He gets the full-back slot, one of the finest and toughest defenders of his time.
The other selection in that line is Shane O’Neill of the modern era, a great defender who was too young in 2004 and 2005.
He was a resolute operator during his time while the Barrs’ Denis Burns was in close contention too as was Pat O’Connor from Brian Dillon’s, who missed out in 1966 too because of injury.
And Christy Connery was very much in contention too.
The half-back selection is Frank Norberg from the Rockies, Johnny Buckley from Newtownshandrum and Erin’s Own’s Timmy Kelleher.
Norberg captained the Cork team in ’72 and was a fine player, Buckley was a star U21 who did not get that coveted senior medal while Kelleher was as good a half-back as there was with club and county but again lost out.
In midfield, we have gone for two Sarsfields men, Ryan and Danny Kearney. Ryan was an unused sub in the 1999 final and was a superb hurler who was unlucky not to win that accolade on the field of play.
Kearney has only recently retired and most would agree it was too soon. He served Cork superbly and more than deserved an All-Ireland, so close in 2013.
Derek Barrett very much was in contention too and, of course, there was the late Paul O’Connor.
In the half-forward line and full-forward line there is a list as long as your arm, so many to choose from.
The three we have chosen in the half-forwards are Patsy Harte, Pat Horgan, not the current one, and Barry Egan, the latter an All-Star not with no All-Ireland.
Harte and Horgan, both Glen Rovers, served Cork well in different eras but missed out because Cork just did not measure up at those times.
In the full-forward sector, Ger Manley from Midleton gets one corner slot, he won a league medal in 1993 after those three epic games with Wexford and was a forward of very high quality.
At number 14 we have chosen Setanta Ó hAilpín, a key player in 2003 but who was gone to Australia for the 2004 and 2005 victories.
If he had stayed around who knows what he might have achieved.
For the final position, you can choose from Luke O’Farrell, Seanie Farrell, Steve Moylan, Pat Kenneally, Patrick Cronin, Cian McCarthy, Cathal Naughton, the Glen’s Johnny Buckley and Finbarr Delaney while Bill Carrol, Noel Gallagher and Richie Browne (Castletownroche) from a bygone era must be honourably mentioned.
And, of course, there’s Aisake who also head off to Oz.
That’s a lottery of a position for us, all into a hat with Pa Cronin coming out.
Without doubt, we have omitted a lot more names and like all other selections over the past few weeks, the task is near impossible.
Here is our teams of players who did not win an All-Ireland on the field of play and that very few will probably agree with.
And that’s entirely their right, it’s just an exercise for a bit of banter.
CORK 15 WITHOUT A CELTIC CROSS:
M Cashman (Blackrock);
J Brohan (Blackrock), D Riordan (Glen), S O’Neill (Bishopstown);
F Norberg (Rockies), J Buckley (Newtown), T Kelleher (Erin’s Own);
P Ryan, D Kearney (both Sarsfields);
P Harte (Glen), P Horgan (Glen), B Egan (Delanys);
G Manley (Midleton), S Ó hAilpín (Piarsaigh), P Cronin (Bishopstown).
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