Wednesday 13 February 2013

Phil Cahill: Hurling Stylist

The following article was written by Bob Stakelum of Ballycahill, Thurles in the match programme for the mid-Tipperary senior hurling final between Holycross-Ballycahill and Moycarkey-Borris played at Semple Stadium, Thurles on 29th September 1991:
Phil Cahill (Holycross/Ballycahill) 
During our early years we heard of the hurling skills of Phil Cahill. There are many alive to-day who saw him hurl and all maintain that he was a better hurler than Christy Ring or Mick Mackey. He may not have had their strength, but for pure hurling skill, he was supreme. Those who saw him play tell of his bursts of speed down the wing, his ability to lift the ball while travelling at full speed and strike it over the bar without handling. It is related that on one occasion the angle was so narrow that the ball clipped both uprights on its way over the bar. 
Unfortunately in that era, good hurlers were tightly marked and often received severe punishment. Phil Cahill suffered many serious injuries and unfortunately, it must be said, that many of them were received in club games. Greatness was not appreciated by lesser lights. Still he never flinched and came back after every injury to play magnificently for club and county. 
He made his first appearance for the county when Clare was defeated in the first round of the 1923 Senior Championship, but surprisingly was not selected for the Munster Final when Tipperary lost out to Limerick. He regained his place for the 1924 championship and played in all championship games until the end of 1931. His final appearance was in 1933 when Waterford defeated Tipperary in a first round replay played in Davin Park, Carrick-on Suir. 
During his career, he won two All-Ireland and three Munster Senior championship medals, one National League award and four Railway Cup medals. In 1928 he was selected on the Ireland team that played in the Tailteann Games. County championships were won with a Mid (Boherlann) selection in 1922, with a South selection (Boherlann) in 1924 and with Moycarkey-Borris in 1932 and 1933. 
Many compliments were paid to him by sports writers. "Carbery" (P.D. Mehigan) said of him that "for a decade or more he charmed us with his speed and artistry". "Green Flag" of the Irish Press described him as one of the greatest stylists hurling has ever produced. 
The Tipperary Star has this to say: "His artistry with the cam├ín was superb and he can certainly be classed as one of the truest and sweetest hitting hurlers that Tipperary every produced. When he struck the ball, a score was almost a certainty and he had an uncanny gift of knowing where the posts were without ever having to look". 
Dinny O'Gorman claims that Phil Cahill and Paddy Phelan were the greatest hurlers he has seen—and he has seen a lot!
P.S. Bob Stakelum hurled for his club, Holycross-Ballycahill, in the forties and fifties. He was a member of the Tipperary senior hurling selection that won their third All-Ireland in a row in 1951 beating Wexford 7-6 to 3-9 in the final. Dinny O'Gorman, mentioned in the article, played his club hurling with Holycross-Ballycahill. He won a senior All-Ireland with Tipperary in 1937 when they defeated Kilkenny in Killarney by 3-11 to 0-3. He played with Tipperary minor hurlers for three years; winning the All-Ireland against Kilkenny in 1930, losing to the same opponents the following year, and captained the winning team against Kilkenny in 1932.

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