Winning a championship medal as a young turk and then having to endure a drought before winning another isn’t exactly common, but it’s not unique either.
Millstreet’s Donal Cashman surely has the patent on longevity in winning three Duhallow JAFC divisional titles since 1992, with 11 years separating each win. While ’92 and 2003 saw the club fail to go on to county glory, this year they managed to do that, and secure a return to the intermediate grade.
Tomorrow, they seek to make an impact in the Munster championship against Clare’s Naomh Eoin and 43-year-old Cashman is delighted to be part of the journey.
“You get a bit older and you wonder if you can still do it,” he said. “A lot of the fellas on the team this year are about half my age, which is a fantastic thing to see, it’s great to know those coming behind will keep it in good hands.
“I play because I enjoy playing. Some people said to me that it was great I had finally won a county medal but I wasn’t hanging around waiting for some team in the future to win a county, I was playing because I enjoy it.
“As soon as I no longer enjoy it, I’ll hang up my boots. I’m getting a little bit slower and the young fellas are getting a little bit faster but I’m still enjoying it.”
For much of his career, Cashman was generally a half-back or a midfielder. While he says that he is still as fast as he was once he gets up to speed, it’s getting off the mark is where the yard or two has been lost. He is still of value to the side as a corner-forward, though.
“Three yards of a head-start is always a good thing,” he observes. “Corner-forward’s lovely for an old fella because you know the ball’s coming and you’re able to make a move ahead of the defender.”
Millstreet’s claim to fame is the club had four players on Cork’s All-Ireland-winning team in 1973, the same as then-county senior champions Nemo. One of those was John Coleman, whose son Patrick is a current team-mate of Cashman’s. In 1992, the older Coleman provided Cashman with a template for playing as a veteran.
“John had given up for about eight or 10 years,” he said, “but he came back that year as he was training us and he ended up playing.
“He enjoyed it and he was well worth his position at full-forward, he was a lot older then than I am now.
“Even for the young fellas, most of them were hardly born when we won in ’92. Even in 2003, they were still fairly young. I was coaching the U4, U6 and U8 kids and they’re coming on the panel now. They’ve been successful coming up and it’s great to see them play at adult level.”
The desire is such, however, that nobody is happy with ‘just’ a county title.
“The team has a big desire to progress,” Cashman said.
“As a team, they’re very united. We’ll be playing intermediate football next year but the aim now is the All-Ireland championship.
“Some people would say it’s a bonus to be playing at this time of year. I think it’s where you want to be playing, as far as you can get.”
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