Saturday 16 December 2017

Where are they now: Cormac Bonnar

He didn't play his first full senior inter-county game until he was 30, but Tipperary hurler Cormac Bonnar still managed to rack up the honours. In four years the full-forward won three Munster championships, two All-Irelands and two All-Stars.

Although Bonnar had a brief stint on the Tipperary seniors in 1983, injury prevented him from making his mark. Then, in 1988, after impressing for his club, the selectors called him back onto the panel for the Munster final against Cork. He came on as a sub and scored the winning goal.

It may look in hindsight that Bonnar was a perfect choice at full-forward to complement Pat Fox and Nicky English on the inside line, but it took Tipperary time to settle on this formula.

"Pat Fox and I started out our careers for Tipperary as full-back and corner-backs on the under 21 side in 1980. Then, ten years later, we were full-forward and corner-forward on the senior team. I had worked my way up the field, while Pat was a natural ball player who could play anywhere."

At the time there was pressure on Tipp to end its barren spell -- the county went 18 years without an All-Ireland -- and when it happened in 1989 there was relief as well as joy.

"It was a fantastically talented side, we were a team that was aware of the weight on its shoulders. The team at the time was very young. Pat Fox was the only married person on the team and when I joined, it pushed up the average age a lot. We weren't a one-hit wonder and we knew to get there it was going to be difficult and to stay there was going to be even more difficult."

The full-forward, nicknamed The Viking, hails from a family of 13. His brothers Colm and Conal also played with Tipperary in the '80s and '90s. Given his parents are from Donegal, it's not surprising that Bonnar also took an interest in football.

"I played full-back for the Tipperary footballers while I was in UCD. I was asked to go along for a trial with the Sigerson footballers so I did. There was a fantastic group of players there playing under Eugene McGee. There were the likes of Colm O'Rourke, Gerry McEntee and Tony McManus."

Bonnar currently lives in Kerry and is the principal of Presentation Secondary School in Milltown. He won an IHC with Dr Crokes in 1997 and a south Kerry senior championship in 1999. He is still involved with Kerry club sides Dr Crokes and St Pat's.

Sunday Independent

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