The end of 2011 is fast approaching and with a lull in competitive Hurling action, we here in Sportsnewsireland decided it was an apt time to consider the debate regarding the greatest players NOT to have won an All Ireland Senior Hurling title in the last 10 years.t
Kilkenny have accounted for 7 of the 10 All Ireland’s won in that period and the near ubiquity of the black and amber on the steps of the Hogan Stand means that many outstanding players have remained without the games biggest prize in their possession.
Strong hurling counties like Galway, Waterford, Offaly, Wexford, Limerick and Clare have not claimed the top prize in that time. The emergence of Dublin as a credible contender means there are even more names up for consideration for this dream team.
Thus its time to reignite that old Pub conversation of the greatest players NOT to have claimed Liam McCarthy in their career.
1.Gary Maguire (Dublin)
The current All Star incumbent had a stellar season and holds off some stiff competition for the Number 1 jersey. Maguire is sure footed, reliable and will be looking to add a Celtic Cross to his National league medal attained this year.
Contenders: Joe Quaid (Limerick), Brian Murray (Limerick), Michael Crimmins (Galway)
2.Stephen McDonagh (Limerick)
The Bruree man could read a game like no other. Fearless, tigerish and the holder of a National League medal from 1997. Arguably his best days for Limerick were in the 90’s but he was still going strong up until 2004 for the Treaty men.
Contenders: Greg Kennedy (Galway), Eoin Murphy (Waterford), Noel Connors (Waterford)
3.Darragh Ryan (Wexford)
Ryan put on an exhibition of full back play in both All Ireland semi finals of 2001 versus Tipperary. Ryan was a pillar in defence for Wexford and takes his place deservedly. Strong, athletic and a real leader for the Slaneysiders.
Contenders: Tony óg Regan (Galway), Stephen Lucey (Limerick)
4.Ollie Canning (Galway)
Canning started life as a tricky corner forward before morphing into one of the finest corner backs in hurling history. A memorable duel with the irrepressible Eoin Kelly of Tipperary in a qualifying match in Salthill sealed the Portumna man’s reputation as a man marker par excellence. Canning managed to hold the Mullinahone man scoreless in a peerless display in 2002.
Contenders: Shane Hickey (Limerick), Gerry O’ Grady (Clare)
5.Tony Browne (Waterford)
The 1998 Hurler of the Year at Midfield is the fine wine of Hurling. The Mount Sion man seems to get better year after year and shows no sign of letting up. A travesty that a player of Browne’s calibre is without a Celtic Cross.
Contenders: David Hoey (Clare), Derek Hardiman (Galway)
6.Ken McGrath (Waterford)
Such is McGrath’s ability that he could be slotted in anywhere in the forward line also. McGrath was a hurler of supreme skill with the heart of a lion. Was converted into a hugely effective Centre back during Justin McCarthy’s era but will have to be content with a haul of 4 Munster Championships rather than a Celtic Cross medal.
Contenders: Ciaran Carey (Limerick), Joey Boland (Dublin), John Lee (Galway), Liam Hodgins (Galway), Brian Geary (Limerick)
7.Mark Foley (Limerick)
Foley started life as a dashing wing back and finished his career as a real rock in the Limerick defence. Always a great man to lift a team with an inspirational point from play whilst he never shirked his defensive duties either.
Contenders: Gerry Quinn (Clare), Cathal Moore (Galway), David Collins (Galway), Ciaran Herron (Antrim)
8.Ger Farragher (Galway)
Classy player unerring from dead balls who we will accommodate at Midfield for the benefit of this team. Farragher is a prodigious scoring talent but has fared well out the park for the Tribesmen also.
Contenders: John McCaffrey (Dublin), Brian O’Connell (Clare), Alan McCrabbe (Dublin)
9.Michael “Brick” Walsh (Waterford)
The “Brick” has turned in a series of swashbuckling displays for the Deise over the years and was one of the main driving forces behind their march to the All Ireland Final in 2008. Seriously athletic hurler who could run all day and has a great touch to boot.
Contenders: Richie Murray (Galway), Diarmaid McMahon (Clare), Liam Rushe (Dublin)
10.Dan Shanahan (Waterford)
“If you don’t know me, don’t Judge me” so said Dan the Man who is deserving of his place on this team on the back of his vintage 2007 season alone. A golden summer of goalscoring exploits however didn’t even merit a Final appearance after Limerick upset the Deise in the semi’s that year. Shanahan had a sterling career and on his day was simply unplayable.
Contenders: Shane Brick (Kerry), Alan Kerins (Galway)*, Joe Rabbitte (Galway), Tony Griffin (Clare) , Michael Jordan (Wexford)
11.Joe Canning (Galway)
Hard to believe that the Portumna man is still only 23 years young. Ridiculously gifted hurler with seemingly every skill in the book and more. See his “no look” behind the back handpass against Cork this year in the Qualifier’s as proof. Metronomic from placed balls whilst his sideline cuts are a joy to behold. There really is “no show like a Joe show”.
Contenders: Stephen Molumphy (Waterford), Ryan O’ Dwyer (Dublin), Ollie Moran (Limerick), Liam Watson (Antrim)
12.Eoin Kelly (Waterford)
Yet another devastating forward from Waterford. It really is hard to fathom how the Deise never climbed the steps of the Hogan Stand on All Ireland final day. Kelly proved himself one of the finest forwards in the country on his day and frequently produced match winning contributions. A class player.
Contenders: Nicky Horan (Meath), Kevin Broderick (Galway), Niall Moran (Limerick), Rory Hannify (Offaly)
13.John Mullane (Waterford)
Fiery and tempestuous, Mullane can infuriate rival fans but what is undeniable is his pure class in front of goal. 4 All Star awards are testament to his ability. A predatory marksman, his 3 goal haul against Cork in the 2003 Munster Final in Thurles will live long in the memory.
Contenders: David O’ Callaghan (Dublin), Shane Dooley (Offaly), Brian McFall (Antrim)
14.Eugene Cloonan (Galway)
Wonderfully gifted Athenry man who won a haul of national medals for his club but was twice on the losing side for Galway on the first Sunday in September. Cloonan burst onto the national consciousness with a prodigious display in the 1996 All Ireland Minor Hurling final and fitted seamlessly into Senior Hurling also. Unerring accuracy from frees was one of his trademarks.
Contenders: Ollie Fahy (Galway), Niall Healy (Galway), Brian Begley (Limerick)
15.Paul Flynn (Waterford)
Ballygunner attacker of the highest ability. Burst to prominence in the 1992 All Ireland Under 21 winning Waterford team and rarely stayed out of the spotlight since. Particularly devastating from 21 yard frees and had an eye for the spectacular in his play from any angle possible.
Contenders: Paul Ryan (Dublin), Andrew O’ Shaughnessy (Limerick), Rory Jacob (Wexford), Fergal Healy (Galway)
So there we go, a controversial selection perhaps? A host of class players have been omitted from the team but it’s a genuine attempt in naming this Utopian selection nonetheless.I’m sure everybody has their tuppence worth to say on this team which is forever the debate heard in bars in every corner of Ireland. Feel free to criticise or ridicule the selection below. Hopefully some of the players mentioned will be able to get their hands on Liam McCarthy before their time runs out.
The selection in full is as follows:
1. Gary Maguire – Dublin
2. Steve McDonagh – Limerick
3. Darragh Ryan – Wexford
4. Ollie Canning – Galway
5. Tony Browne – Waterford
6. Ken McGrath – Waterford
7. Mark Foley – Limerick
8. Ger Farragher – Galway
9. Michael “Brick” Walsh – Waterford
10. Dan Shanahan – Waterford
11. Joe Canning – Galway
12. Eoin Kelly – Waterford
13. John Mullane – Waterford
14. Eugene Cloonan – Galway
15. Paul Flynn – Waterford
*Kerins has a Celtic Cross from the Galway Footballers in 2001 but Liam McCarthy eluded him.