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Diarmuid O'Sullivan: One Of Cork's Greatest Ever Full Backs
Cork hurling fans took pure delight going to watch “The Rock” in action in the 1990’s and especially from 2000 up to his inter county retirement announcement on 13th May 2009. Diarmuid O’Sullivan from the Cloyne club in Cork, was the modern day tough as nails, no nonsense No.3, who took ball and man when clearing out of defence. He revelled in the tight exchanges and few forwards got very little change when The Rock was in his prime.
Born in 1978, Diarmuid could strike a sliothar extraordinary long distances and turn a menacing attack into onslaught on opponents goals. Cork fans rose in their thousands to applaud his every giant clearance and when he called full time on his glorious career, he left a gaping hole in Cork’s rearguard that will probably take several years to mend. Behind Diarmuid was fellow Cloyne and Cork custodian, Dónal óg Cusack, and between them, they instilled immense confidence in their colleagues.
Diarmuid began his Cork hurling career at under 21 grade and when the county put back to back Munster and All Ireland titles on the mantelpiece in 1997 and 1998, foremost in the frame was the teak tough young Cloyne hurler. Great and famous innings lay in wait. At just 19 he won a Cork county intermediate hurling medal with Cloyne and also in 1997, he was playing with his divisional side, Imokilly, in the Cork senior hurling championship.
Diarmuid joined an elite group of Cork hurlers who won intermediate and senior county medals in the same year. Cork fans were now realising that at last they had a new kid on the block to fill the No.3 jersey for many years and Diarmuid delivered in huge measure. He was immense at No.3 from 1998 right through to 2006, and Cork fans were repaid in spades for their admiration for the Rock of Cloyne.
He captained Cork to a much needed National Hurling league title in 1998 and the following year (1999) he was the pillar for Cork once more becoming Munster senior hurling champions. Kilkenny were waiting in the All Ireland final for Jimmy Barry Murphy’s new warriors as raging favourites, and on a cold, very wet September Sunday at Croke Park, Cork were crowned Liam McCarthy Cup champions. The Cloyne hurler also won his 1st All Star award.
Cork were also steering proudly for many more triumphs, but despite retaining their Munster title in 2000, Offaly came to Croke Park and took Cork apart in a shock turnaround for all involved with Cork hurling. Diarmuid had put in another great year in the No.3 jersey and won his 2nd All Star award. The journey back to Croke Park took three years to accomplish, but it was Kilkenny’s hour of glory at Croke Park once more in 2003.
As 2004 beckoned another hurling chapter, Diarmuid and his colleagues handed over the reins in Munster to Waterford. However, Cork came through the back door and famously avenged their 2003 defeat to Kilkenny in a great All Ireland final and were crowned 2004 All Ireland champions. Diarmuid again claimed another All Star award at No.3.
As Cork marched on in 2005 to claim further Munster and All Ireland titles, their demolition of Galway in the final was a hallmark of a truly outstanding team. 2006 witnessed Cork back at Croke Park chasing a 3 in a row clutch of All Ireland titles, but a new look brand of hurling from Kilkenny had Cork mesmerised. Cloyne and Diarmuid also had three Cork county senior hurling final defeats in 2004; 2005; and 2006; to put under the carpet.
From his Harty Cup triumph in 1995 to his retirement in 2009, the Cloyne hurler left a glorious trail reserved only for the great legends. Cork fans may never see his equal in the famous No.3 jersey.
Inter County Roll Of Honour - HURLING
All Ireland Senior Hurling Medals: 1999/2004/2005
All Ireland Under 21Hurling Medals: 1997/1998
Munster Senior Hurling Medals: 1999/ 2000/2003/2005/2006
Munster Under 21Hurling Medals: 1997; 1998
National Hurling League: 1997/98
All Star Awards: 1999; 2000; 2004; 2005
Railway Cup Medal: 2000
Harty Cup Medal: 1995
Cork Senior Hurling Medal: 1997
Cork Intermediate Hurling Medal: 1997
Derry JF Doody