Jimmy Brohan….. a hurling life.  

Saturday morning May 3rd 2003 

The weather was really miserable in Cork city on that Saturday morning. 

By 9.45 am rain and a grey swirling mist enveloped the pavilion, car park and pitches at Church Road.  After some discussion among the coaches, it was decided that the Saturday morning hurling coaching sessions, an institution at the Blackrock National Hurling Club, would have to be cancelled for the first time in 18 months due to the terrible weather. 

At 9.50 am a car pulled into the car park. 

“ Is it going ahead or what ?”, the driver asked.  

 When it was confirmed that the hurling coaching could not go ahead, he exclaimed

 “ I was sick in bed with the auld flu all week but I came over just in case, see ye all next week, I’m going back to my bed” and with that Jimmy Brohan drove away into the gloomy morning rain.

Jimmy Brohan had come to Church Road to coach the 1996-hurling group, a group of about 40 young lads all born in 1996. He comes each Saturday morning.

Four decades earlier

Forty years before these young hurlers were born, Jimmy was a central participant in what is arguably the most famous hurling final of all time.  Over eighty three thousand people witnessed the contest on Sunday September 23rd 1956 at Croke Park.

The images, the vivid descriptions, the verbal accounts, the old photographs, the vast crowds of men in dark or grey suits, the few minutes of flickering black and white RTE film clips can scarcely do justice to this extraordinary contest which captured the imagination of the entire country and which resonates in the telling through the years.

Described as a “titanic struggle” by Raymond Smith, “full of tension, grandeur and drama” by Seamus King, a game “frenzied with excitement” by Norman Freeman, “one of the most absorbing matches in decades” by Michael O’Hehir, a “magnificent struggle” by Tim Horgan, the 1956 All-Ireland Final has assumed iconic status in hurling folklore.

Christy Ring going for his record ninth All Ireland medal…Wexford powered by the giant Rackard brothers of Killanne in the famous hurling parish of Rathnure… the Art Foley save from Christy Ring…Ring continuing into Foley, catching his hand “you’ve cost us the All-Ireland”…Ring being carried shoulder-high from the field by Wexford’s Nick O’Donnell and Bobby Rackard. 

The stories of this All-Ireland final have captured the imaginations of thousands of young hurlers and cemented in a unique way the mutual respect between the hurlers and people of Wexford and Cork. To day Jimmy Brohan remains rather philosophical at the happenings of 1956, where he marked Tom Dixon from Enniscorthy closely throughout the game and supplied the trademark long clearance to Paddy Barry which resulted in a goal to bring the sides level in the final quarter. He still expresses disappointment at the result.

“ We could have won it, but it just didn’t go our way on the day and good luck to Wexford, they wanted it more”.

Early days.

Born on June 18th 1935, the Brohans lived in the third house from the end of Wheelers Lane, (now Beaumont Avenue) alongside Longboats public house in the pleasant village of Ballintemple.  Just across the road a United Irishman John Griffith was executed in 1798. The family moved to 16 Mahon Terrace in 1939, so young Jimmy grew up a few hundred meters to the east of Blackrock Village itself.

James Brohan senior was born in Fethard, Co. Tipperary .  He moved to Cork city where he was employed in the Metropole Hotel. There he met and married a fellow employee Mary Murphy from Ballintemple.

Sandwiched in the middle of seven children, (Paddy, Billy, Anne, Jimmy, Bobby, Mary, and John), Jimmy attended the Sullivan’s Quay school during the war years of the early forties.  He remembers playing hurling and football from an early age with the school and he played in the famous Dr. Harty Cup competition for five consecutive years, in goal for the first two years and later as a back.

The Brohan Family, at home at Mahon Terrace (circa. 1950)

Left to Right; John, Mary, Bobby, Jimmy, Ann, Billy, Paddy

Dr. Harty Cup shock

In 1951 Sullivan’s Quay school caused a major upset in the Dr. Harty Cup competition when it defeated the kingpins at the time, the North Monastery. Jimmy played full forward that day and scored the winning point in a low scoring match from about 30 yards out just before the final whistle. The final score was 1 --- 3 to 1 --- 2.  Among those playing for the North Monastery that day was Johnny Clifford, who later scored Cork’s winning goal in the 1954 All-Ireland Final.  

“This was a complete shock at the time, the Mon team included 9 of the Cork minor panel which won the 1951 All-Ireland,” recalled Johnny.

Sullivan’s Quay was eventually defeated in the final by Thurles CBS, which included Tony Wall of Tipperary and Paddy Croke (Dublin).  Jerry Coffey captained the Sullivan’s Quay team and also captained Cork to the minor All-Ireland success that year.

Sullivan's Quay Hurling Team 1946

Jimmy is second from left, front row. Timmy Cronin (extreme right) and John Russell (second right, front row) played Senior Hurling for St. Finbarrs.

Parish Leagues

Jimmy took part in the Blackrock parish leagues run by the Blackrock National Hurling Club during those years.  He recalls that there was very few competitive matches under 16 played at that time unlike the present situation to day.  He remembers that he played in goal for the Blackrock minor hurling team in 1949. That year Blackrock beat Glen Rovers in a tough match played at Douglas, however following a series of objections, both sides were disqualified and there was no city representative in the county competition.

Blackrock being Blackrock there were always hurleys and sliotars everywhere and impromptu matches going on all over the place in the evenings. Jimmy practiced down in the village itself on the road near the Marina.  The Brohan family had settled into Mahon Terrace at that stage so it was fairly natural for Jimmy and other young fellows to hurl around the village in the evenings or around the road at Mahon Terrace. Among the Brohan s neighbours were the famous Coughlan brothers, Eudie and John (Ballyhea), who had played in the 1931 All-Ireland final with Kilkenny, which went to three games. ‘Down Down’ Dorney who had played for the Rockies in the early years of the century also lived on the street.

“One time I was caught by the Gardai and fined half a crown (15 cent), a large sum of money in those days, for hurling on the road,” 

admits Jimmy rather ruefully.

“Imagine being fined for hurling in Blackrock!”

Jimmy’s reputation in Corks hurling circles was growing however and in 1952 and 1953 he was chosen on both the Cork Minor hurling teams and the Munster Colleges teams which played in the interprovincial colleges competition each year. While Cork minors were defeated by Tipperary in the early rounds each year, Jimmy earned two All-Ireland colleges medals, which are amongst his most treasured possessions. Incidentally among his opponents in the minors was Irish soccer international Niall Quinn’s father, Billy Quinn, who was an accomplished hurler with Tipperary minors at the time.

Sullivan's Quay School Shield Football Team 1947

Jimmy is second from left, front row. 

Leaving Sullivan’s Quay in 1953, eighteen-year-old Brohan began work at the Irish Dunlop Tyre factory at Centre Park Road, where he was to remain for 30 years until its eventual closure in 1983. Jimmy worked eight-hour shifts, Monday to Friday throughout his career.

He recalls that before the Munster Championship in 1958, he was on nights (12 midnight to 8am).

“ I tried to get a shift change but couldn’t and you would not be feeIing the best trying to hurl after that”

“Dunlop’s” contained among its workforce many Blackrock hurlers and hurlers from all over the city.  Johnny Clifford also worked there and remembers that 

there was a huge rivalry between Blackrock, the Barrs and the Glen at the time, but we all got to know each other in Dunlop’s and later on the Cork panel and we became great friends”

All-Ireland Medal Winners - at Dunlop's in 1970

Left to right; Tom Donoghue, John Clifford, Jimmy Brohan, Billy Campbell, Micka Brennan, Billy Murphy, Derry Hayes and Joe Twomey.

There is an interesting photograph on the Gaelic Weekly newspaper of September 22nd 1956 of some of the All-Ireland medal winners, who worked there and Billy  Murphy, Derry Hayes, Joe Twomey, Billy Campbell, Johnny Clifford, Micka Brennan as well as Jimmy himself are included in that photograph. 

Saturday 21st June 2003  

Back-Field Church Road.

The under seven hurling coaches were gathering slowly in the middle of the field, some delaying to watch the Blackrock super leagues on the main pitch. 

 “ I wonder if I could put it over”.  Jimmy contemplated the goalposts some 60 meters away.  Jimmy tried a shot, just wide!

“I must be failing”

Seconds later his next shot split the posts!

“The old eye is still in”

 Church road…. early days.

Jimmy recalls walking over regularly to Church Road, where the Blackrock senior hurlers trained in the pitch known as Joe Keeffe’s field at the rear of where the Willow Bank housing estate is now located.  There were four soccer fields located in a row on the way into the Blackrock field, which contained an old railway carriage, used as a dressing room and for storage purposes. Blackrock moved across the Church Road in the mid 50s to the present fields, which were owned by T. John Horgan, a local cattle dealer. These fields had been used to keep cattle prior to their subsequent export from the Cork Docks. 

To the young Brohan, some of these Blackrock hurlers were gods, Johnny Quirke, the Riordans, Derry Hayes, Fox Aherne, and he wanted to be with them.  In 1953 as an 18 year old, he played his first senior hurling game for the Rockies. Later that year Jimmy lined out at left corner in the County Senior semi-final versus Glen Rovers. Facing him initially was Christy Ring. 

Former Tipperary goalkeeper John O’Grady who also played in goal for Blackrock while teaching in Sullivan’s Quay takes up the story,

“ It was quite plain that the Glen attack meant to bring pressure to bear on what should be the weakest link in the Blackrock defence.  As each ball came towards his position, the youngster broke quickly from Ring’s side, got to it first and cleared surely and swiftly. Ring moved off to centre-forward”

The Glen won the match 1 ---13 to 8 points and later went on to capture their 14th County title by defeating Sarsfields in the final.

The same year the busy Brohan also played an active role in the Blackrock Minor Team, which won the City Divisional Championship for the first time. That team was eventually beaten in the county final by Riverstown, which had an Imokilly selection at its disposal.

Clear message… the Rockies are back!  

The young Rockies had sent out a clear message to everyone, the club was on its way back to the top. The failure to annex the County Championship since 1931 had become an obsession among all associated with the club and the area.  Blackrock prior to 1931 had been virtually synonymous with Cork hurling and had won 21 County Championships.

During the intervening period, the Blackrock Club had to stand by while Glen Rovers captured an amazing 15 County titles between 1934 and 1954, including victories over the Rockies themselves in 1939, 1948 and 1954. By 1953 Jimmy had established himself on the Blackrock Senior team and played in the 1954 County Final, when a young Blackrock selection lost by just 5 points to a strong Glen Rovers team.

The seminal Glen Rovers hurling publication, “The Spirit of the Glen” acknowledged the contribution of Blackrock to this final.

“The Glen lined out with eight of Cork’s all conquering 1952-54 teams and were firm favourites to retain the County title.  Blackrock fielded a young team hoping once again to take the title to the fishing village and what a rare fight they put up.  The game was a tremendous struggle and it took every ounce of craft, experience and spirit in the Glen squad to achieve victory”.

Cork career, the beginnings.

By 1954 young Brohan was also called up for the Cork Senior hurling panel. Those days a player would receive a postal notification that one had been chosen for a particular game and one should call to the County Board offices at Cook Street. The Cork players gathered there and were usually taken to games in a number of hired cars. Jimmy recalls that there was little or no regular organised training at the time and serious training for the Championship commenced maybe a month to six weeks prior to the game.

He played in a number of the league games in the 1953/1954 seasons and was ready for the 1954 Championship.  Cork defeated Tipperary in the Munster Championship and were then going for a three-in-a-row of All-Ireland titles. In the semi-final against Galway, Jimmy played at the left corner back position as Tony O’ Shaughnessy was injured and performed very well in a fairly one-sided game.

However for the All-Ireland final against Wexford, the selectors went for the experienced O’Shaughnessy, who had recovered from his injury.  This match was witnessed by a record 84,800 spectators and resulted in a three-point victory for Cork in what Billy Rackard has described as a “grim, hard-fought, finely-balanced contest.”  O’Shaughnessy received an injury during the game, however he was bandaged and played on.

There were great celebrations when Cork arrived back with the Liam McCarthy for the third time in a row, we paraded through the city on the back of a lorry, there were lots of speeches and we had a great time, it was a great experience .

1955 “a bit of a disaster”

1955 was somewhat of a disaster for Jimmy. He had always played football from his days with Sullivan's Quay and later with St. Michaels, which was established in 1951. Picked on the Seandun Divisional football team, he did not turn up, he’s still not sure why he did not go. However the result was that he was suspended from all G.A.A. activity and could not take part in the 1955 Munster Hurling Championship.

Clare beat Cork in the opening round of the 1955 Championship and the three-in-a –row team was no more. It still hurts!

Dermot Sheedy of Clare got a rake of points the same day.” was Jimmy’s final comment.

The disappointment of 1956.

By 1956 Jimmy was back on the Cork Senior team again, and when Ring rattled in three goals in a few minutes against Limerick in the Munster Final, the scene was again set for a repeat against Wexford in a match that has gone into history.

His great friend and future brother-in-law Mick Cashman was now in goal for Cork. Mick was later to marry Jimmy’s sister Anne also in 1956 and their sons Tom and Jim were both to win County Medals with Blackrock and All-Ireland medals with Cork, Tom captaining the winning Cork team in 1986. Mick had been picked for Cork in 1952, however he had suffered a dose of tonsillitis in the week of the Championship and couldn’t play, so Dave Creedon who had retired took his place in goal and went on to win three All-Ireland medals.

The 1956 final was a tough uncompromising game, at one stage in the second half, two Blackrock players played at centre-field, Seamus Hearne for Wexford and Paddy Philpott for Cork. 

Wexford were two points ahead. Three minutes from fulltime Ring went for glory from a ball cleared by Philpott, Art Foley stopped Ring’s effort, Foley’s long clearance eventually breaking to Nicky Rackard, whose low skimming shot, struck the Cork net. Dixon added a point.  Match over!  Wexford by 6 points!

Reporter John Barrett, writing in the Kerryman on Saturday 29th September 1956 states

 “Tall Jimmy Brohan was another who starred in the Cork defence. His display at right-full marked him down as one of the best men in that position in the country today. His speed and stylish hurling were a treat to watch.”

At the final whistle, Jimmy watched as Ring was carried off the field shoulder high by some of the Wexford players, little did he realise that although he would play some fantastic hurling at Croke Park for Munster, neither he nor Ring would grace the famous old stadium again as hurlers in the red of Cork.

Mick Cashman and Jimmy Brohan  - 1988

The joy of 56 as the County finally returns.

Despite the disappointment of losing the All-Ireland final, Jimmy and Blackrock had unfinished business in Cork…. to finally capture that County title that had eluded a whole generation of Blackrock hurlers. Blackrock made an all-out effort that year and trained in the Cork Constitution grounds at Templehill for some of the period leading up to the game.

Mick Cashman was the captain on that unforgettable day in October 1956,and gave a commanding performance at centre-back.  Jimmy played at full-back against the mighty Glen Rovers. The Glen were favourites after beating the Barrs, while Blackrock had problems overcoming Carbery.

Over 28,000 people crammed into the Cork Athletic Grounds by the River Lee. A tight hard fought first half left the Glen two points ahead.  The frustration of a generation of Blackrock hurlers was about to be erased however, when Blackrock held the Glen to a point from Johnny Clifford in the second half.

Ring tried everything, he had got a goal in the first half, and then made four strong solo-runs into the heart of the Blackrock defence.

Reporter C.F.Kenealy in his newspaper article stated,

“Jim Brohan and Patsy Lyons, however never left him get in a decent shot once he came into their area and so ended Rovers chances of pulling the game out of the fire”.

Jimmy believes that Ring was genuinely delighted to see the Rockies achieve victory, but he would not let them don the mantle of success until they had proved worthy of it.

20 year-old Micheal Murphy scored a goal and three points, while Sean Horgan picked up a goal and a point.  Seamus Hearne who had earlier played for Wexford in the All-Ireland final put over two points, Mick Cashman, Flor O’Mahony, Tom Furlong and John Bennett contributed a point each to Blackrock’s most famous victory.

“It was huge at the time, we paraded down the Marina to the village and eventually wound up in the Leaping Salmon.  The Leaping Salmon owned by Billy O’Keeffe, who had also been treasurer of the club was the unofficial meeting place of the Rockies at the time. The older followers of the club were absolutely thrilled and celebrations went on for ages”

remarked Jimmy in his usual understated manner about that famous days proceedings.

Before the end of the year Jimmy was to win a county junior football medal with St. Michaels. In 1957 he was the Cork Junior football captain in the Cork team that captured the Munster title but were eventually beaten by Mayo in the All-Ireland series. He played one game for the Cork senior footballers.

 July 26th 2003 Church Road

“Look you hold the hurley like this and swing it so…see.”

Seven-year-old Naoise Crowley tries to copy the beautiful measured even hurling swing of his coach.  

“Now turn around and do it this way, you must pull on the sliothar from both sides”

“That’s it, great improvement, keep at it… now… you've got it”

 The warm smiles on both coach and youngster signal another hurling skill mastered,

“You will be a great hurler yet, just keep practicing every day”

Watching the seamless passing on of a hurling skill from a master stickman to another eager young Rocky is the very lifeblood of the game.


Jimmy at Church Road, Blackrock, Superleagues 2003

   Lean years for Cork

The rise of Waterford and Tipperary hurling in the late 50s and early 60s led to a very lean decade for Cork hurling. Defeated in 1957 and 1959 by Waterford by 5 points and 3 points, in 1958 and 60 by Tipperary by a margin of two points, before the margin of defeats in the early 60s grew larger.  Jimmy played in them all, it was a low period for Cork hurling before the explosion in 1966. 

Reputation grows 

Throughout the period, Jimmy’s reputation as a classy stylish hurler and as a fine sportsman grew.  He was chosen on the All-Ireland Hurling team selections of 1957,1959,1960, 1961 and 1962.  His displays with Munster in the halcyon days of the Railway Cup are regarded as amongst the very best performed by a right corner back in the code.  He won six Railway Cup medals with Munster, 1957.1958,1959,1960, 1961 and 1963.

Johnny Clifford who saw his first All-Ireland final in 1946 is in absolutely no doubt as to Jimmy’s ability.

“Jimmy was the best corner back I have seen in all that time, he would more than hold his own in any era, he never left Blackrock or Cork down.  I played on him many times, there was never a foul stroke from him and he often drove the ball 80 yards down the field, sometimes at my expense.”

Ignatius Jordan the Clare corner forward from Whitegate who was just 19, when he played against Jimmy in the 1958 Championship described Jimmy without hesitation “as a stylish, classy and sporting hurler”.  He mentioned with a laugh that on one occasion in the game he was soloing through, ball on stick, Jimmy tapped the ball sideways and had it cleared down the field before he realised it had gone from his hurley.

Best hurling team ever

The results of a Gael Linn sponsored popular poll to find the best hurling team ever were published in the Irish Independent on Saturday June 17th 1961 by the well- known journalist John D. Hickey.

Jimmy was chosen at right full back on that team, he received 3548 votes over 2000 more than his nearest challenger for the position.  (Only Christy Ring, Nick Rackard, Mick Mackey and Lory Meagher received more popular votes for their respective positions on that team than Jimmy).

He received a plaque in the post for this achievement; it still occupies a favoured place in his home.

This same respected G.A.A. journalist in describing Jimmy’s performance in the 1958 defeat by Tipperary went on as follows,

“Jimmy Brohan convinced me that he is the best corner-back I have ever seen”.

Jimmy had actually broken a bone in his hand during the Railway Cup semi-final earlier in the year and yet performed as described.

Paddy Downey, writing in the Sunday Review on 4th January 1959, in choosing his hurling team for 1958

right full back must go to Cork’s Jimmy Brohan.  This angular, frail-looking man improves with each season. He is now at the peak of his power.”

Playing two hard games on consecutive days was no problem to Jimmy.

On Saturday 17th March 1962, he played with Munster in the Railway Cup Final, the only one he lost!  The media report state that he “cleared wonderfully”. On Sunday 18th March he was the corner back on the Rest Of Ireland selection, which defeated Tipperary, the All-Ireland Champions at Thurles.

The Cork Examiner report of Monday March 19th 1962 states,

“For the hero of the game, one will easily look once again to a giant-hearted corner back in the person of Jimmy Brohan.  He was the cornerstone of the defence and the man who shattered the snappy Tipperary approach work.” 

Jimmy played his last game for Cork in the 1962 Championship.  In 1963, he was called into the Cork panel, he trained with the team until the Wednesday prior to the game, and however as he was not picked for the team, he went off on a pre-booked holiday and was not picked after that.  He was only 28 years old at the time.  Today he is still disappointed at that decision.

“I have only two regrets over my entire hurling career and one of them is that I should have stayed at home from that holiday, but I was stubborn at the time”

An injured knee was causing him some problems at the time and this also influenced his decision to call it a day on the inter-county scene.


Jimmy Brohan and Mick Maher (Tipperary) playing for Munster 1959. 

Christy O'Brien (Laois and Leinster) looks on.


A second disappointment relates to the fact that Blackrock could not put County titles back to back.

Jimmy played in 5 County finals, 1954,1956,1959,1961 and 1963.  The Rockies won two, in 1956 and in 1961 when they defeated Avondhu.  Jimmy was captain in 1959 when Glen Rovers defeated the Rockies 3 --- 11 to 3 --- 5.  University College Cork that included some Blackrock players emerged victorious in the1963 final.

Jimmy continued to hurl for Blackrock at the senior level until 1969/70 and then went on to play at the junior level. He played in goal until early 1973 at the age of 38. In 1969 Jimmy demonstrated his versatility when he won a County Intermediate football medal with St. Michaels.  

Eamonn O’ Donoghue, present Blackrock Minor and Juvenile Chairman and All-Ireland medal winner, then just out of the minor grade played with Jimmy in the 1970 Junior Hurling Team which won the City Championship, the McCurtain Cup and the City League, states

“Jimmy was truly an inspirational figure to us young fellows, he had done it all and here he was playing with us and being really supportive and encouraging to us, he left a big impression on me and on all the lads that played in that team”.  

Left to right; Frank Murphy, Ned Cotter and Jimmy Brohan at a 

Blackrock Hurling Club Dinner during the 1960's

Jimmy himself enjoyed this period in his career and with a little twinkle in his eyes tells the story how he was a mentor at an intermediate league game between Ballinhassig and the Rockies in 1976.

“We were a bit short, so I decided to tog off to make up the numbers. I managed to slip a few scores past Martin Coleman in the Ballinhassig goal”

At the time Martin was the Cork Senior goalkeeper and was about to make an enormous contribution to the three-in -a row team (his outstanding save in the final minutes of the All-Ireland Final against Wexford in 1977 will never be forgotten!) and Jimmy was a Cork selector. There must have been an interesting discussion afterwards!

Jimmy recounts another tale, this time against himself. He would often accompany teams and if they were short a player he’d play himself, usually in goal. One night in the mid-seventies, the Blackrock juniors needed a goalkeeper as they were playing a game in Douglas. Jimmy volunteered and borrowed a pair of boots from Tadhg Falvey. Unfortunately the match did not go too well for Jimmy. He was handing back the boots to Tadhg when the famous Eudie Coughlan approached. Jimmy explained that he had borrowed the boots for the game.

“It’s a pity you didn’t borrow his glasses too,” retorted Eudie.

Not alone did Jimmy excel on the pitch for the Rockies, but off the pitch he has served the Blackrock Club as secretary, treasurer and vice chairman, while he has been a selector and mentor to teams on numerous occasions.

Roger Ryan long serving Blackrock Secretary, who joined the Rockies in 1960 and won a County medal in 1961 feels privileged to have played with Jimmy.

“I remember Jimmy Brohan as an outstanding right full-back, who coped with some of the best forwards in the game, and never once resorted to unfair tactics when competing with his opponent. His hurling skills and length of his deliveries were legendary.”

Tom O’Sullivan, Chairman of the Blackrock club, describes Jimmy as “a brilliant back, a real hurler”


  Jimmy Brohan in action, in goal, for Blackrock in the 7-a-side tournament 

at Church Road - 1975

   Senior County Selector 

Among his accomplishments in which he takes great personal satisfaction, is his role as a Cork Senior selector in 1976,1977 and 1978 and also in 1986. In each year Cork won the Munster Championship and All-Ireland.  Among his fellow selectors for the three-in-a row period was Christy Ring who had been nominated for the position initially by the Blackrock Club.  The studied concentration of Ring and Brohan during a championship game has been captured in a photograph taken by the Examiner and included in Val Doran’s book on Christy Ring.

“The Cork 76, 77 and 78 team was a great team, fantastic lads, they have not received half the credit they deserved “

He was thrilled in 1986 when his nephew Tom Cashman, accepted the Liam McCarthy Cup following Cork’s defeat of Galway in the All-Ireland final. His friend Johnny Clifford was the coach that year and among the selectors was Donal O' Grady.

Johnny recalls;

“ We all really worked hard together, Jimmy did all the dealings with the County Board and left me to concentrate completely on preparing the team.”  


    Jimmy Brohan looks on as his nephew Jim Cashman receives the Player of the Month Award in 1990. On the right is Jim's Mother, Ann, sister Shirley and Brother Tom.

Personal Life.

Jimmy married Betty Collins, a neighbour who lived at 6 Mahon Terrace in 1959. They have two sons, David and Frank. Granddaughter Aoife is a rising star while sister Eimear is a great prospect at the vibrant Blackrock Camogie Club. Following the closure of Dunlops in 1983, Jimmy joined the Customs Service, from which he eventually retired in 2000.

These days he can be found manning turnstiles at various hurling grounds for matches. He continues to coach and offer advice to young hurlers and even completed his Foundation Coaching Level certificate this year. Jimmy and Betty recently moved to live just off Castle Road in Blackrock, just a puck of a sliothar from the famous Blackrock Castle.

John Bennett, a member of the 1966 Cork All -Ireland team and a teammate of Jimmy since the Minor days of 1949/50 describes his friend as follows, 

“ He was a stylish hurling corner-back, a grand hurler, a great man to read a game.  He is one of the nicest fellows in a days walk, never took a drink, but a great man for a blast of a song and a fine singer”

Anyone lucky enough to be present for Jimmy’s recent rendition of “the Red Rose Café” at the coaches’ night-out would have to agree. 

    Jimmy and Betty outside their home 2001


Betty and Jimmy 


Jimmy and Frank


Jimmy and David


Aoife and Eimear


David, Frank, Jimmy, Aoife, Eimear and Betty


Christy Ring

Jimmy remembers Ring with genuine affection and fondness.

“He was basically a very shy man, but a great friend to have, he was very knowledgeable about all sports, but he lived for his family and for hurling.

He always analysed each game and would describe in detail why and how a particular match had been won or lost.”

Brohan and Ring often “palled around” together as they were picked on the Munster and Rest of Ireland teams regularly and also went on the Wembley trips with Cork.  He recalls how the two of them went off to see Arsenal play at Highbury during one of their trips to London.  In the dressing room before a game, Ring would be pacing around, encouraging younger guys, belting the sliothar against the wall, getting himself ready.

“Ring was a very shrewd judge of a man and a hurler”.

Christy Ring was a frequent visitor to Church Road, as his son Christy Junior played in the Blackrock Parish leagues. (The Ring family lived at Avondale Park in Ballintemple).

“I often saw him standing there, just watching his young son play hurling like any other Dad in the background, he never became involved in the proceedings”.  

Sunday 10th August 2003.

Jimmy sat in the Hogan Stand at Croke Park as Cork and Wexford battled it out in the All-Ireland Semi-Final.

“It was a great match, but Wexford were lucky to get a draw, Cork should have consolidated their position.”

He was impressed with the colour, and the wonderful atmosphere and especially the beauty of the stadium. Despite the legendary status of the 1956 match, Jimmy has met very few of the Wexford players since then, he met none of them at this match.  He remembers being on a radio programme with Billy Rackard some time ago, while Ned Wheeler and himself have bumped into one another also. He met Padge Keogh at Pairc Ui Rinn one day. A get together for all these players is long overdue!

  Hurling To-Day

Jimmy describes hurling to-day as completely different to his day. He is concerned that too much emphasis is being placed on fitness and too little on the hurling skills.  Completely opposed to professionalism, “it will have a very detrimental effect on the G.A.A.”, he is adamant that players should not be paid to play, but should be compensated if out of pocket. He believes that the introduction of 30 strong county panels is crazy, “there is no need for 30 players on each panel”.

Jimmy at Tragumna (circa 1993)



Jimmy Brohan has made a vast contribution to the G.A.A. and to the game of hurling. That active contribution has continued for over 50 years and can still be seen in the hurling fields of Church Road. He played during some of the lean years for Cork against some of the greatest forwards in the game, Sean McLoughlin, and Liam Connolly (Tipperary), Frankie Walsh and John Barron (Waterford), Liam Moloney (Limerick), Sean Clohosey (Kilkenny), Tim Flood (Wexford).

He was a star of the Railway Cup competition, when it was at its pinnacle. He was chosen on the Rest Of Ireland teams on 5 occasions. Of most significance, he was the public’s choice at right-corner back in 1961 in the best team ever. His role as a selector with some of the successful Cork hurling teams of the seventies and eighties was vital to the maintenance of Cork as a hurling power.

His contribution to the Blackrock club, as hurler, mentor, coach and administrator is incalculable. Just as important, many members in the club speak of the warm and friendly welcome they received from Jimmy when they first arrived at Church Road either to play or help out. That simple greeting from Jimmy was in turn often reciprocated by years of service to Blackrock Hurling Club by many of those people. Perhaps this may be Jimmy’s greatest legacy to hurling?

Roll Of Honour

1 All-Ireland Medal (1954) 

6 Railway-Cup medals ('57, '58, '59, '60, '61 and '63) 

5 Rest Of Ireland selections (equivalent of All-Stars) 

2 Munster Championship Medals ('54 and '56) 

2 County Championship medals ('56 and '61) 

2 All-Ireland Colleges Medals ('52 and '53) 

1 Junior County Championship Football medal ('56) 

1 Intermediate County Championship Medal ('69) 

1 Munster Junior Football medal ('57)

Several McSweeney and McCurtain Cup medals as well as league medals for junior hurling.


The Brohan sporting family.

Bobby Brohan represented Ireland at amateur and school-boy soccer, where he was a noted goal-keeper.  He was a star with Ringmahon Rangers, before joining Evergreen United, which played in the League of Ireland.

John Brohan, also played with Ringmahon Rangers and went on to play with Cork Hibernians where he won league and cup honours. 

Jimmy’s next door neighbour at Wheelers Lane in Ballintemple was the famous Florrie Burke.  Born in 1921, Florrie was a noted under-age hurler with Blackrock and went on to win an international soccer cap for Ireland in 1951. He also won six league medals with Cork United and Cork Athletic, as well as two Cup medals .He was regarded as one of Irelands greatest soccer players. A famous international and Irish champion cyclist Sean Mehigan was also born in Wheelers Lane.


Sources and further reading

The Rockies, A History of Blackrock Hurling Club, compiled by Paddy Madden, edited by Declan Hassett and published by the Blackrock National Hurling Club 1984.

Cork’s Hurling Story. By Tim Horgan. Anvil Books 1977.

The Spirit of the Glen, a Glen Rovers presentation 1973

Classic Hurling matches 1956-75 by Norman Freeman. Gill & Macmillan Ltd 1993.

Legends of the Ash.  By Brendan Fullam. Wolfhound Press Ltd 1997.

This excellent book contains an article on Jimmy Brohan.

Decades of Glory by Raymond Smith. Little & McClean Ltd. 1966

The Clash of the Ash by Raymond Smith. Creative Press Ltd 1972

The Clash of the Ash by Raymond Smith. Aherlow Publishers Ltd. 1981.

Christy Ring by Val Dorgan. Ward River Press, 1980.

No Hurling at the Dairy Door. Billy Rackard. Blackwater Press 1996.

Michael O’ Hehir, My Life and Times, Blackwater Press 1996.

The newspapers and publications referred to in the article.

©  Blackrock National Hurling Club 2003

Thanks to Betty and Jimmy and their friends for assistance in compiling this article and for sharing their wonderful memories. Most of the older photographs are unaccredited as we do not know who owns the copyright, however if anyone wishes to be credited please contact the website and matters will be rectified immediately. Should anyone wish to add his or her thoughts or comments on the hurling career of Jimmy Brohan please use the guest book? If you wish to extract some material from the article, an acknowledgement of the Blackrock website source would be appreciated. All errors are mine.

Gerard O’Mahony

September 2003.