Colm Bonnar

Colm Bonnar
Personal information
Irish name Colm Ó Cnáimhsí
Sport Hurling
Position Midfield
Born (1964-07-09) 9 July 1964
Cashel, County Tipperary, Ireland
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Occupation Sport development officer
Years Club
Cashel King Cormac's
Club titles
Tipperary titles 1
Munster titles 1
All-Ireland Titles 0
Years County Apps (scores)
1986–1998 Tipperary 35 (0–6)
Inter-county titles
Munster titles 5
All-Irelands 2
All Stars 1

Colm Bonnar (born 9 July 1964) is an Irish hurling manager and former player whose championship career with the Tipperary senior team lasted from 1986 to 1998. He is the current manager of the Carlow senior team.

Born in Cashel, County Tipperary, Bonnar first excelled at hurling during his schooling at Cashel CBS. He first appeared on the club scene at underage levels with Cashel King Cormacs, before eventually joining the club's senior team. In a distinguished club career he won one Munster medal and one county senior championship medal.

Bonnar made his debut on the inter-county scene at the age of seventeen when he joined the Tipperary minor team. He won an All-Ireland medal in this grade in 1982 before later joining the under-21 side. He was also an All-Ireland medal winner in this grade, having earlier won three successive Munster medals. Bonnar made his senior debut during the 1986 championship. Over the course of the next decade he was a regular member of the starting fifteen and won All-Ireland medals in 1989 and 1991. Bonnar also won five Munster medals, one National Hurling League medal and one All-Star. He played his last game for Tipperary in June 1998.

After playing on the unsuccessful Munster inter-provincial teams in 1988 and 1989, Bonnar subsequently failed to be picked for the team. He was recalled to the team in 1995 and went on to win three successive Railway Cup medals,

Immediately after retiring from inter-county activity Bonnar became involved in coaching. He was a selector and team trainer on the Waterford senior hurling team under both Gerald and Justin McCarthy from 1999 until 2003, a period which saw Waterford claim their first provincial title in nearly forty years. Bonnar later served as a selector with the Tipperary senior hurling team under Ken Hogan, but it was an unsuccessful period for his native county. As coach of the senior hurlers at Waterford Institute of Technology he guided the team to a remarkable four Fitzgibbon Cup titles in six years. Bonnar's tenure as manager of the Wexford senior team last from 2008 until 2011 and ended without any success.


Colm Bonnar was born in Cashel, County Tipperary in 1964. The eighth of thirteen children born to a coulpe who had strong links to Donegal, he was educated at the local national school and later attended Cashel CBS. Here Bonnar's skills at both hurling and Gaelic football came to the fore. He won Croke, Fitzgerald and McGabhann Cup winners' medals in both codes. In 1980 and 1982 Bonnar captured two All-Ireland 'B' Colleges' hurling medals with the school.[1]

Playing career


Bonnar played his club hurling with his local club called Cashel King Cormac's and enjoyed some success. In 1990 he lined out in his first senior final of the county championship, however, the team eventually lost by one point. The following year Bonnar won his sole county championship winners' medal before claiming the Munster club title at the end of the year. Bonnar's side almost reached the All-Ireland club final, however, they were beaten by eventual winners Kiltormer of Galway at the semi-final stage after playing two replays to decide the winner. In the late 1990s Bonnar joined the Dunhill club in Waterford.

Minor, under-21 and junior

Bonnar's talent as a hurler was quickly spotted by the Tipperary inter-county selectors and he joined the minor panel in the early 1980s. In 1982 he enjoyed his first major success when he captured a Munster title in that grade. He later lined out in the minor championship decider with Wexford providing the opposition. Tipp had a relatively comfortable 2–7 to 0–4 win, giving Bonnar a coveted All-Ireland medal.[2]

Bonnar later joined the Tipperary under-21 panel, winning a Munster title at this level in 1983. He later lined out in the All-Ireland final, with Galway providing the opposition. A final score of 0–12 to 1–9 in Galway's favour meant that Bonnar ended up on the losing side.[3] In 1984 he added a second consecutive Munster under-21 title to his collection before later lining out in a second consecutive All-Ireland medal. Kilkenny were the opponents on that occasion, however, Tipp were defeated again by 1–12 to 0–11.[3] In 1985 Bonnar made it three Munster titles in-a-row before lining out in a third consecutive All-Ireland decider. Kilkenny provided the opposition once again. At the third time of asking Bonnar collected a coveted All-Ireland medal after a narrow 1–10 to 2–6 victory.[3]

That same year Bonnar also won a Munster junior hurling medal as a substitute, however, Wexford accounted for Tipperary in the subsequent All-Ireland final.[4]


In 1986 Bonnar made his debut with the Tipperary senior hurling team.[5] It was an unsuccessful year as Tipp were eliminated from the provincial championship at the first hurdle.

1987 saw Bonnar retain his place on the team. t was a successful year for Tipp as the county won its first Munster title in sixteen years following a dramatic draw and a replay with Cork in FitzGerald Stadium, Killarney .[6] In the subsequent All-Ireland semi-final Galway put an end to Tipp's dream season with a 3–20 to 2–17 defeat.

1988 began well for Bonnar as he added a National Hurling League medal to his collection. He later captured his second Munster medal following another victory over Cork. A subsequent defeat of Antrim allowed Tipp to advance to the All-Ireland final where Galway provided the opposition. With an extra year's experience it was expected that Tipp might shade the victory. Galway, however, used this to motivate themselves. Noel Lane scored the crucial goal for Galway while Nicky English sent a late penalty over the bar for a point. A 1–15 to 0–14 score line resulted in victory for Galway and defeat for Bonnar.[7]

In 1989 Tipperary were still the best team in Munster and Bonnar won his third provincial title in-a-row after a 0–26 to 2–8 trouncing of Waterford. For the third time in as many years Tipp faced Galway in the All-Ireland series, however, on this occasion the men from the West were without their star player Tony Keady. The game turned out to be a tense and unsavory affair as Tipp finally triumphed over Galway. Antrim, the surprise winners of the other semi-final, provided the opposition in the subsequent All-Ireland final. It was an historic occasion as it was only the second appearance of an Ulster team in the championship decider. Antrim's relative inexperience robbed the final of any real element of contest and Tipp romped home to a 4–24 to 3–9 win.[8] Because of this Tipp preserved their record of being the only team to win an All-Ireland title in every decade in GAA history. It was Bonnar's first senior All-Ireland medal.

In 1990 Tipperary surrendered their Munster crown to Cork for the first time in four years. This defeat followed Babs Keating's infamous remark about Cork that 'donkeys don't win derbies'.[9]

Tipp returned in 1991 and defeated Cork in a thrilling Munster final replay giving Bonnar his fourth provincial medal. The subsequent All-Ireland final saw Tipp take on Kilkenny for the first time in twenty years. A freak goal by Michael Cleary in the first-half gave Tipp a lead which they never surrendered. A 1–16 to 0–15 victory allowed Bonnar to capture his second All-Ireland medal in three years.[8]

1992 saw Tipp exit the championship at an early stage, however, the team bounced back for one last hurrah in 1993. That year Bonnar added a fifth Munster medal to his collection as Tipp trounced Clare by 3–27 to 2–12. The subsequent All-Ireland semi-final saw Tipp renew their rivalry with Galway; however, on this occasion Galway took the spoils. This defeat brought the curtain down on Tipp's great revival.

After defeat after a draw and a replay in the Munster final of 1996, Bonnar lined out in a second consecutive provincial decider in 1997. Clare provided the opposition on that occasion, however, it was an occasion to foregt for Bonnar as Tipp lost a close and exciting game by 1–18 to 0–18.[10] The introduction of the new 'back-door' system resulted in both Clare and Tipperary meeting for the second time in the first all-Munster All-Ireland final. The game itself was one of the best of the decade. Clare were well on top for much of the game, however, Liam Cahill and Eugene O'Neill scored twice for Tipp in the last ten minutes. John Leahy missed a goal chance in the last minute while another Tipp point was controversially ruled wide. At the full-time whistle Clare won by a single point – 0–20 to 2–13.[11]

Following defeat in the 1998 provincial championship Bonnar decided to retire from inter-county hurling.[12]

Managerial career

Colm Bonnar
Inter-county management
Years County
2008–2011 Wexford

In retirement from playing Bonnar became involved in team management and coaching. Just a year after he hung up his hurley Bonnar became part of Gerald McCarthy's five-man management team with the Waterford senior hurlers.[13] He was initially brought in as a selector before serving as trainer of the team under McCarthy and his successor Justin McCarthy. It was a successful period for Waterford as the team captured their first Munster title in thirty-nine years in 2002. Bonnar remained with the Waterford management team until the end of the 2003 season. He then accepted an offer to serve as a selector with the Tipperary senior hurling team under Ken Hogan. Apart from a Munster final appearance in 2004 it was an unsuccessful stint with his native-county.

Bonnar has also enjoyed much success as manager of the Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) hurling team. Between 2002 and 2008 he guided the institute to four Fitzgibbon Cup titles, making WIT one of the most successful team college or university teams in recent years.


Bonnar was confirmed as manager of the Wexford senior hurling team, in succession to John Meyler, on 11 November 2008.[14] His team was knocked out of the Leinster Championship at the semi-final stage by Dublin, and lost to Limerick in the qualifiers, leaving them in a situation where they had to play a relegation play-off against Antrim. Bonnar was unhappy about the possibility that his team could potentially play in Christy Ring Cup rather than the All Ireland Series in 2010.[15] He and the managers of the other teams involved in the play-offs appealed to the GAA's Disputes Resolution Authority,[16] who took the decision to postpone the relegation final until a future date.[17] The Director General of the GAA has suggested that the relegation final will be played, but that no team would end up being relegated and that a decision would be made on the issue in early October 2009.[18]

In July 2011 he resigned as manager of Wexford after the defeat to Limerick.[19]


Cashel King Cormac's




  1. "Bonnar Bros.". 5 July 1991. Retrieved 12 November 2008.
  2. Des, Donegan (2005). The Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games. DBA Publications. p. 29.
  3. 1 2 3 The Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games p. 42
  4. The Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games p. 50
  5. "Tipperary Hurling Teams 1980–1989". Archived from the original on 24 August 2012. Retrieved 12 November 2008.
  6. Sweeney, Éamonn (2002). Munster Hurling Legends. The O'Brien Press. pp. 122–123.
  7. The GAA Book of Lists p. 362
  8. 1 2 The GAA Book of Lists p. 363
  9. Munster Hurling Legends p. 130
  10. The Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games p. 26
  11. The GAA Book of Lists p. 365
  12. "Tipperary Hurling Teams 1989–1999". Retrieved 12 November 2008.
  13. "Bonnar joins McCarthy Waterford hurling selection panel". Irish Examiner. 14 September 1999. Retrieved 14 November 2008.
  14. "Bonnar named as new Wexford boss". RTÉ Sport. 11 November 2008. Retrieved 12 November 2008.
  15. "Bonnar furious with relegation plans". RTÉ Sport. 21 July 2009. Retrieved 11 September 2009.
  16. "Relegation counties appeal to DRA". RTÉ Sport. 24 July 2009. Retrieved 11 September 2009.
  17. "Hurling relegation final postponed". RTÉ Sport. 27 July 2009. Retrieved 11 September 2009.
  18. "Duffy: 'No McCarthy Cup relegation'". RTÉ Sport. 6 August 2009. Retrieved 11 September 2009.
  19. "Bonnar announces his intention to quit Wexford". RTÉ Sport. 2 July 2011. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Declan Carr
Tipperary Senior Hurling Captain
Succeeded by
Michael O'Meara
Preceded by
John Meyler
Wexford Senior Hurling Manager
Succeeded by
Liam Dunne
Preceded by
Pat English
Carlow Senior Hurling Manager
Succeeded by
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