A Selection of Great Hurlers
The Captain, Big Mikey (Tipperry) 1870-1947
Big Mikey Maher of Tubberadora was the captain of the three teams that won the All-Irelands in 1895, 1896 and 1898. Christy Ring (Cork) and Drug Walsh (Kilkenny) are the only other hurlers to captain three All-Ireland winning teams.
Mikey Maher, who was born in 1870 was a large man, 6' 3'' tall and 15 stone and he had a large personality to go with it. He was an ideal captain at a time when the team leader was expected to organise the team, arrange the games, agree the travel arrangements and make the switches during a game. He was a born leader and held in deep respect by his players.
A strong rather than stylish player he usually operated at centre-forward and led by example showing great heart and courage in the course of the game.
Big Mikey won two further All-Irelands following his exploits with Tubberadora. He played on the successful Moycarkey team in the 1899 final and on the Two Mile Borris team in the 1900 decider.
When he died in 1947 he was buried in St. Michael's Cemetery, Tipperary. In one of his obituaries he was remembered by those who knew him in his prime as 'Cuchulainn and Napoleon and Matt the Thresher.'
Outstanding Captain Jim Kelliher (Cork) 1878-1943
Jim Kelliher of Dungourney, who captained the Cork team to All-Ireland honours in 1902, usually played at full-back but he was versatile enough to feature in other parts of the field as well. He wasn't a big man, 5' 9'' in height, but was always fit and had a good temperament as well. He played for Cork from 1901 to 1912, winning two All-Irelands, 1902 and 1903, but losing four, 1904, 1905, 1907 and 1912 to Kilkenny. He also won seven Munster medals.
Jim Kelliher put Dungourney, which is situated in east Cork, on the map as a result of his outstanding hurling. Carbery, the great commentator on the game, had this to say about him: 'Kelliher had brains, skill, stamina and ash craft in abundance. I saw him play in twenty-six major matches and he never left the field without being the outstanding hurler of the hour.' He placed him centreback in his team entitled 'The Best Team of My Time'.
Captain of three, Dick (Drug) Walsh (Kilkenny) 1878-1958
Following in the footsteps of Mikey Maher of Tipperary (Tubberadora) Dick 'Drug' Walsh of Mooncoin was the second hurler in the history of the G.A.A. to captain his county to three All-Ireland hurling successes. 1907, 1909 and 1913.
He is reputed to have got his nickname 'Drug' from a fondness for the sing 'Clare's Dragoons', which he tended to pronounce as 'Drugoons', and his mates christened him 'Drug' as a result, a nickname that stuck but which he disliked intensely.
Born in Mooncoin in 1878 he made his county senior debut in 1904 and was on the successful seven Kilkenny teams that won All-Irelands between then and 1913. He captained Kilkenny on three of these occasions, 1907, 1909 and 1913. His favourite position was centreback. He wasn't a big man but was always fit and wiry. He played for the county from 1904 to 1914 and won seven Leinster medals as well.
Born in 1878, Drug played his club hurling with Mooncoin, winning four county championships in a career that spanned three decades. Following the end of his intercounty career he got involved in training teams and was in charge of the Laois team that won the 1915 All-Ireland.
A Distinguished Captain, Tom Semple (Tipperary) 1879-1943
Thurles went through a lean hurling period after winning the first All-Ireland final and didn't get back into contention for hurling honours until 1904. The man responsible for their change in fortunes was Drombane native and captain, Tom Semple. He was a leader in the real sense of the word and insisted on nothing but the highest standards. He used innovative tactics and training methods. The team favoured a ground hurling style. Jack Mockler recounts how training under Semple involved the players lining up outside the Confraternity Hall, marching out to the Ragg, back in again to spend an hour or two skipping, some work on the punch ball and then a practice match!
Semple was handy with the ball in the hand also. He won the 1906 All-Ireland long puck championship, hitting the 9oz sliotar a distance of 96 yards.
Semple, who was born in 1879, retired from inter-county hurling after defeat in the 1909 All-Ireland but continued playing for the Blues until 1912. His record included six county championships in 1904, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909 and 1911, four Munster titles (his first Munster and All-Ireland titles were won with Two-Mile-Borris in 1900), and three All-Irelands in 1900, 1906 and 1908. The Munster win in 1909 was followed by defeat to Kilkenny in the All-Ireland.
In recognition of his exploits on the hurling field and his contribution to the G.A.A. as an administrator at all levels from club through to national level, Thurles Sportsfield was renamed Semple Stadium in his honour in 1971.
Little Sim Walton (Kilkenny) 1880-1966
Simon Walton (Tullaroan) better known as Sim and familiarly as Little Sim was born in 1880 and died in 1966. He is synonymous with the great Kilkenny period of success between 1904 and 1913 when he was one of four players to win all seven All-Irelands. He was captain on two occasions, in 1911, when no final was played because Limerick refused to agree to a change of venue, and 1912, when he scored the winning goal against Cork in the final.
He was also captain in 1916 when Kilkenny were beaten by Tipperary in the final. Not a big man, Sim weighed about eleven stone and was of average height. He was noted for his sudden bursts of speed and his accuracy and these attributes, plus his outstanding skill, made him a notable forward who could play effectively in the centre or full positions.
His inter-county career spanned the years 1903 to 1919. He won ten Leinster titles and seven county championships with Tullaroan. He was a legendary character and his name evokes greatness and outstanding ability.
A Very Special Captain – Patrick 'Wedger' Meagher (Tipperary) 1890-1958
Patrick 'Wedger' Meagher is probably one of the greatest captains who never won an All-Ireland.
Born in Toomevara, he put the Tipperary parish on the map among Irishmen all over the world because of its association with him and the eponymous Greyhounds.
He was involved with horses from an early age and following a success at the local races, in which he made a very strong finish, he was nicknamed 'Widger', transmuted to 'Wedger' through use, after a contemporary County Waterford family of that name noted for breeding and racing horses.
He was dedicated to hurling and became a formidable corner-back. He soon became involved with the re-organisation of the local club and so began the era of the legendary Greyhounds. They won their first county final in 1910 and this was followed by three-in-a-row between 1912-1914, when Wedger captained the team.
It is said that it was his organising ability, enthusiasm and leadership which were mainly responsible for the success of the team in the early years. The Greyhounds were also stimulated by their battles with the Leahy-powered Boherlahan teams of that era for supremacy within the county.
The highlight of his hurling days was victory over Kilkenny at Dungarvan in the Croke Cup final of 1913. It provided the material for the club's national anthem, 'Hurrah for Toomevara'. In the light of later events and the failure to win an All-Ireland it was a bit premature.
While still playing, Wedger became involved in the National independence movement. He recruited, organised and trained the local Volunteers. He took part in ambushes and spent time in prisons in Belfast, Limerick and Wormwood Scrubs.
He was secretary of the north board from 1914-20 and of the county board from 1922 to 1927. He travelled to the U.S. with the Tipperary team in 1926 and returned there in the following year to spend the remainder of his life in New York. He became Sports Editor of the Irish Echo and his column, Games of the Gaels, became famous far and wide.
During the thirty odd years he spent in New York, he made only a couple of visits home. He had married Ellen Whelehan, a near neighbour from Toomevara, in 1926, and the couple had two children. The best man at the wedding was his great friend and rival, Johnny Leahy of Boherlahan. He died in 1958 and was buried far from his native place in the city of New York.
I never will forget the day/ Kilkenny's pride went down
Before the skill of Wedger's men/ In sweet Dungarvan town.
Sean Óg Murphy (Cork) 1897-1956
Jackie, better known as Sean Óg Murphy, was born in Cork City in 1897. One writer described him thus: 'He grew up into a sturdy broad-shouldered man of five feet ten or so with a shock of fair hair, which shook as he hurled. He played in many positions before he settled down at full back and adorned that position for the rest of his career. He was not alone a master hurler of left and right but a man of rare judgment and anticipation. In a tight situation he was cool and resolute with sound ball control. His natural strength was immense. He would dash into a cluster of players, stagger friend and foe alike and emerge with the ball. He rarely lifted the ball and he would drive ground balls of great length off either hand. He never crowded in on his goalkeeper. His pluck was almost reckless at times. One day in a Munster final at Thurles, when Cork were hard-pressed, he went in 'late' on a pull and got the full blow which knocked him to the ground and broke four teeth. Like a roused lion he sprang up, spat out teeth and mud, rushed to the goalmouth and cleared the ball to safety.'
He played hurling with his local club, Blackrock, winning county titles in 1913, 1920, 1924, 1925 and 1927. He featured as captain for the last three victories. He was also a footballer of note and played with Nils, winning county junior titles in 1913 and 1914, and senior titles in 1915, 1917 (as captain), 1924 and 1925.
His first All-Ireland final was on a dark rainy day in November 1915, when Cork lost to Laois, and he retired from playing following an injury in the 1929 Thomond Shield competition. In between Sean Óg won six Munster titles and three All-Irelands. He won his first All-Ireland in 1919 and two more in 1926 and 1928 as captain. He captained Munster in the first inter-provincial competition, when they lost to Leinster in 1927, and captained the province to success in 1928 and 1929. He captained Cork to success in the inaugural National Hurling League in 1926
With the end to his playing career he became involved as a selector. He was already a selector of the successful 1926 and 1928 teams and was also a member of the backroom team on eight more occasions, in 1929, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1952, 1953 and 1955, an achievement unlikely ever to be emulated.
Sean Óg Murphy was appointed secretary of the Cork county board in 1929 and retained the position until his death in 1956. As a tribute to him the trophy awarded the winners of the Cork senior hurling championship is called the Sean Óg Murphy Cup. He was posthumously honoured in 2000, when he was named in the full-back position on the Cork Hurling Team of the Century.
His life is best summed up by a reporter with reference to the 1926 Munster final: 'Here was a leader for you – Sean Óg the captain – a full-back dynamite couldn't move, a hurler who was master of his craft bringing more glamour in its truest sense to the hurling field than any player I have seen up to now.'
Garrett Howard (Limerick) 1899-1995
Garrett Howard was one of the Dublin (Garda) team that defeated Cork in the 1927 All-Ireland. He had a varied career that included playing with three clubs, two counties and two provinces during a long and distinguished hurling career.
Born in Croom, Co. Limerick in 1899 he started his career with his local club and won his first county title with them in 1919. Progressing to the county team, he won his first Munster and All-Ireland titles in 1921.
Having joined the new Garda force he moved to Dublin, joining the Garda team, with whom he was to win five county titles in 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928 and 1929. His talent was recognised and he was soon picked for the county with whom he won two All-Irelands in 1924 and 1927. He won a third Leinster title in 1928 before losing to Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final.
He moved to Toomevara in late 1929 and won two county Tipperary finals in 1930 and 1931.
Transferring to Portroe after 1931, he returned to the Limerick colours becoming part of the great Limerick team of the thirties, winning four Munster finals between 1933 and 1936. Limerick progressed to All-Ireland victories in 1934 and 1936, but lost two in 1933 and 1935, to give him five All-Irelands in all and eight provincial medals.
He also won four National League medals, one with Dublin in 1928 and three with Limerick in 1934, 1935 and 1936. He played in four Railway Cup finals, winning one in 1927 with Leinster, losing two with the same province in 1928 and 1929, and winning one with Munster in 1931. He played on the Ireland team in the Tailteann Games in 1924 and 1928. Having started out as a forward, he settled in as a very accomplished half-back.
His considerable contribution to hurling was recognised in 1982 when he was given an All-Time All-Star Award, which was presented to a former player who, more than likely would have received an All-Star award had the scheme been in existence when he was playing. Garrett Howard died in 1995.
Mick Gill – Two All-Irelands in One Year – (Galway & Dublin) 1899-1980
Mick Gill of Ballinderreen, County Galway had the distinction of winning two All-Irelands in the space of three months with two counties. He played his early hurling with his native club and came to prominence with the county team in 1922. His big moment came in 1923 when Galway defeated Limerick in the All-Ireland final, which wasn't played until September 14, 1924. (Limerick refused to play this final until all Civil War prisoners were released and were initially disqualified but were later reprieved.) Galway won by 7-3 to 4-5 in a game in which Gill made a major contribution at midfield with his ploy of lobbing the ball into the square.
In 1924 Gill joined the new Garda force and as such went to live in Dublin, where he joined the Garda club. He was thus qualified to play with Dublin in the 1924 championship and he was on the team that won the Leinster final and defeated Antrim in the All-Ireland semi-final. He came up against his native county in the All-Ireland, which was played on December 14, just three months after winning the 1923 final, and he won his second All-Ireland when Dublin won by 5-3 to 2-6.
He won his second Leinster medal and his third All-Ireland captaining Dublin, when they defeated Cork in the 1927 final. He won two further Leinster medals in 1928 and 1930.He returned to the Galway colours in 1931 and continued to play with them until 1938, when he retired after sixteen years of inter-county hurling. Gill also lined out in the inter-provincial competition with his adopted province of Leinster. He won his sole Railway Cup medal in 1927, the inaugural year of the competition. He was on the Ireland hurling team in the 1928 Tailteann Games. He won a National Hurling League title in 1929. He enjoyed much success with the Garda club in the Dublin championship, winning six county titles in 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929 and 1931.
Mick Gill, whose best playing position was right wind-back, died on 21 September 1980, just one day short of his 81st birthday and just two weeks after the Galway hurlers bridged a 57-year gap to capture their second All-Ireland title.
Dr. Tommy Daly (Clare) 1894-1936
There is an iconic picture of the legendary Tommy Daly being shouldered from the field following Clare's dramatic victory over Galway in the 1932 All-Ireland semi-final. It was his nineteenth year of senior inter-county competition..
Born in Tulla in 1894, and regarded as one of the greatest hurling goalkeepers of all time, he went to U.C.D. to study medicine and soon made his name as a goalkeeper with the college team, winning Fitzgibbon Cup medals in 1915, 1916, 1917 and later in 1923, 1924 and 1927. He also won three county Dublin titles with the Collegians in 1917, 1918 and 1919. Later in his life he returned to play with his native Tulla and won a county Clare title in 1933.
He first gained prominence at inter-county level in 1914, when he won Munster and All-Ireland medals with the Clare junior team. Following his exploits with U.C.D. Daly soon established himself as the regular Dublin goalkeeper and played with them between 1917 and 1927. During this time he won five Leinster titles in 1917, 1918, 1921, 1924 and 1927, and four All-Irelands in 1917, 1920, 1924 and 1927.
In 1928 the rule preventing non-residents from playing with their native county was amended. Daly, who was practising medicine in London at the time, declared for Clare in 1930. Daly's delay in returned to Clare is attributed to his reluctance to displace the incumbent, George O'Dea, who had guarded the Clare net since 1918. Clare beat Cork in the 1932 provincial decider, which gave Daly his first Munster medal, but lost the All-Ireland to Kilkenny. This concluded his inter-county career.
He captured a Railway Cup medal with Leinster in 1927, the inaugural year of the competition, and played with Munster in 1933 when they lost to Leinster.
Shortly after his retirement he took up refereeing and was highly respected in his new role. He took charge of the 1935 All-Ireland between Kilkenny and Limerick. Dr. Tommy Daly died in a car accident in Tuamgraney in 1936.
Tull Considine (Clare) 1898-1980
Tull, (Turlough Owen), Considine was born in Ennis in 1898, the youngest of a family of eleven. He played hurling and football with the Dalcassions Club, winning county hurling titles in 1914, 1915, 1924, 1928 and 1929, and county football titles in 1913 and 1919. He was on the Clare senior football team beaten by Wexford in the 1917 All-Ireland. For all their matches in the championship, Clare entered the field behind a republican flag bearing the inscription, 'Up De Valera'.
He played senior hurling for Clare from 1918 to 1934 at left corner-forward, winning a Munster championship medal in 1932. He was selected for Ireland in the 1928 Tailteann Games. He was an automatic choice on the Munster Railway Cup teams from 1928-1931, winning four inter-provincial medals.
After retiring from Clare senior hurling, he continued to play with the Dalcassioans, and later to train them. He went on to train the St. Flannan's teams of 1944-1947, which won four Harty Cups and four All-Ireland Colleges titles in a row. Famous Clare hurler, Jimmy Smyth, who was a member of these teams, described Till Considine as being 'years ahead of his time in coaching methods.'
Lory Meagher (Kilkenny) 1899-1973
One of the outstanding players on the Kilkenny team during the twenties and the thirties was Lorenzo Ignatius Meagher, better known as Lory, who was born in Tullaroan in 1899. The name Lorenzo had been in the family for generations. Lory's father, Henry Joseph Meagher, was believed to have been at Thurles when the Gaelic Athletic Association was founded on November 1, 1884.
In private Lory Meagher was a shy and retiring man. He spent his whole life working as a farmer and never married. He was known for many years as the most eligible bachelor in Kilkenny. He avoided the limelight and was always wary of journalists. Fame was not for him.
There is a great picture of him talking to Kilkenny goalkeeper, Jimmy Walsh, at the 1945 Leinster final against Dublin. He stands beside the goalpost, wearing a cap and a crumpled 'Columbo' overcoat with his hands in the pockets and a recently lit cigarette in his mouth. He is completely nondescript.
Meagher played his club hurling with the famous Tullaroan club in Kilkenny and enjoyed much success. He county titles in 1924, 1925, 1930, 1933 and 1934.
He made his county senior debut in 1924 and went on to win eight Leinster championships in 1925, 1926, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1935, 1936, 1937. Kilkenny, with Lory on board, also won the 1929 final against Dublin but both teams were disqualified for being late on to the field. Having lost two All-Irelands in 1926 and 1931, Lory won three in 1932, 1933 and 1935, before losing two more in 1936 and 1937. He also won a National League title in 1933. He won two Railway Cup medals, the first in 1927, the inaugural year of the competition, and a second in 1933.
Following his death Lory Meagher came to be regarded as perhaps one of the greatest hurlers of all-time. He was personally honoured by being posthumously named on the Hurling Team of the Century in 1984. His reputation was cemented in 2000 when he was also named on the Hurling Team of the Millennium In 2008 the GAA further honoured Meagher by naming the Lory Meagher Cup, the hurling competition for Division 4 teams, in his honour. Meagher's house is preserved as Bród Tullaroan in Tullaroan, County Kilkenny and is open to the public. This is a 17th century, two storey, thatched farmhouse where Meagher lived with his sisters. Adjoining the house there is an exhibition centre and museum dedicated to Kilkenny's many exploits in Gaelic games. Here one can find a wealth of sporting history with a unique collection of trophies and other mementos of the sport including medals and personal awards earned by Meagher and others.
Dinny Barry Murphy (Cork) 1904-1973
One of the outstanding hurlers on the Cork team at this time was Dinny Barry Murphy, who was born in Cloughduf in 1904 and initially played junior hurling with them and won an All-Ireland junior title with Cork in 1925. He played senior with Blackrock in 1927 and won a county title. The following year Cloughduf and Bride Rovers combined to form Eire Óg and won the county championship. Murphy played with Eire Óg until 1932 when he transferred to St. Finbarr's and played with them until 1936. He resumed with Cloughduf in 1937 and won county junior and intermediate title in successive years, 1940 and 1941. He played senior hurling once again in the 1942 championship, his last playing season.
Lightly built, Dinny Barry Murphy played at right wing-back and was regarded as one of the greatest hurlers of all time. A piece of doggerel from the period captures something of the man:
Dinny Barry Murphy, boy,
Great hurler, boy!
Hed'd take the ball out of your eye, boy,
And he wouldn't hurt a fly, boy!
He played senior hurling for Cork from 1926 to 1935, during which time he won four All-Ireland titles, 1926, 1928, 1929 (as captain), 1931. He won National League titles in 1926 and 1930. Playing in the inaugural Railway Cup provincial championship in 1927 was the first of eight successive appearance he made for Munster, winning five, 1928, 1929 1930 (as captain), 1931, 1934. He was a sub on the successful 1935 team and won his sixth medal. He represented Ireland in the 1932 Tailteann Games.
Timmy Ryan (Limerick) 1910-
Born in 1910, Timmy Ryan first came to notice in 1929 when he won a county junior title with Ahane in 1929. Graduating to senior ranks he was on the Ahane senior side that won its first county title in 1931, went on to win seven in a row between 1933 and 1939, and seven more in a row between 1942 and 1948.
He first came to prominence with Limerick in 1930 and won the first of five Munster titles in 1933. The others were to follow in 1934, 1935, 1936 and 1940. His first All-Ireland was won as captain in 1934, the Jubilee Year of the Association, and two others followed in 1936 and 1940.
His big regret was losing the 1935 final to Kilkenny. With time running out and Kilkenny leading by a points, Limerick were awarded a free and the referee, Dr. Tommy Daly, informed Timmy, who was captain, that it was the last puck of the ball. Timmy, who used to share the free-taking with Mick Mackey, decided to take it but as he was about to do it, Mackey pushed him aside and said he would take it. He failed to rise the ball, the final whistle was blown and Limerick were defeated. Ryan believed he would have got the point and that Limerick would have beaten Kilkenny in the replay. The memory of the defeat rankled years later.
Timmy Ryan was also a member of five successive National League winning teams in 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936 1937. He also won five Railway Cup medals with Munster in 1934, 1935, 1937, 1938, 1939. He won an Oireachtas medal in 1939, the inaugural year of the tournament. He won eight Thomond Shield medals in 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1937, 1940, 1944, 1945, (Limerick also won in 1947 but it doesn't appear that Ryan was on the team.)
Timmy Ryan nickname was 'Timmy Good-Boy' and it reflected the warmth, friendliness and gentlemanliness of the person. He loved the game and held the Limerick record, 45, for the number of senior championship appearance, until it was superseded by Mark Foley in 2009. One commentator paid this tribute to him: Timmy was one of the greatest midfielders the game has known, He was a master of the delightful art of overhead striking and in this facet of the game he was without peer. He was known to have doubled on puck-outs and sent the sliotar over the bar. He was a master of every stroke, He played the sliotar first time as it came to him – overhead, shoulder high, or on the ground. He always felt that too much lifting and handling the ball took away from hurling as a spectacle.'
Timmy spent his entire career in the midfield position and turned in consistently brilliant performances. He was also one of the most sporting players on the field.
Mick Mackey (1912-1972) Limerick
Mick Mackey, who was born in Castleconnell in 1912, was a colossus among hurlers and vies with Christy Ring and, perhaps, Henry Shefflin, for the title of greatest hurler of all time. He starred during the golden age of Limerick hurling in the thirties and his personal greatness made a major contribution to the golden age.
He played his hurling with Ahane and the club became famous all over Ireland for its exploits. During his playing years with the club, 1930 to 1948, he won fifteen county Limerick championships in hurling and five in football, and won many tournaments as well.
There was a great concentration of talent in Limerick at the time and it came to fruition in 1932. Mackey was the star of this team of all the talents. His status as one of the all-time greats is unquestionable. In a senior inter-county career that lasted for seventeen years he was the pivotal player around whom success was achieved. He is regarded as the player who perfected the solo run and was reputed to carry the ball in his hand when he had his back to the referee!
During this period he won three All-Irelands in 1934, 1936 and 1940, five Munster titles in 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936 and 1940. He was also a member of five successive National League winning teams in 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936 1937. He won eight Railway Cup medals with Munster in 1934, 1935, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1943, 1945. He won an Oireachtas medal in 1939, the inaugural year of the tournament. He won eight Thomond Shield medals in 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1937, 1940, 1944, 1945, (Limerick also won in 1947 but it doesn't appear that Mackey was on the team.) Other achievements include an All-Army championship in 1943, two Limerick junior hurling and one Limerick minor hurling championships, and a Clare minor hurling championship.
Mackey was also part of the Limerick team's 31 game unbeaten run between October 1933 and August 1935. This sequence of victories included 8 championship, 13 National League and 8 tournament games, He was selected at centre-forward on the Team of the Century in 1984 and the Team of the Millennium in 2000.
P. D. Mehigan (Carbery) had this to say about Mick Mackey, when he picked him on his 'The Best Men of My Time': 'And the 40 yards mark on my hurling team, surely and without question, belongs to that 'Playboy of the Southern World, - Munster's pride and Limerick's glory – the one and only Mick Mackey! For a combination of skill and power, of brains and brawn, the Castleconnell man, son of the great 'Tyler' Mackey, brought joy and thrills galore to thousands.'
A monument was unveiled to Mackey in his native Castleconnell in May 2013. Before that the Mackey Stand in the revamped Gaelic Grounds was named after him. Fittingly, as no player went past him easily during his hurling days, there is a roundabout carrying his name in the city.
Harry Gray( Laois & Dublin) 1915-1978
Harry Gray was born in Rathdowney, Co. Laois in 1915, the year Laois won their only senior hurling All-Ireland. He played hurling with Rathdowney and, later, Faughs, His best position was centre-forward. He played with Laois between 1934-1937 before moving to Dublin, with whom he played until 1947, when he returned to play with Laois for the last two years of his playing career, With Dublin he won one All-Ireland in 1938, one National League title in 1939 and four Leinster medals in 1938, 1941, 1942 & 1944. He won a fifth Leinster title with Laois in 1949. He played Railway Cup hurling with Leinster in 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942 and 1943, winning in 1941.
Tommy Doyle (Tipperary) 1915-1988
Tommy Doyle of Thurles Sarsfields was one of the greatest hurlers to play with Tipperary. He enjoyed much success with his club, winning county titles in1935, 1936, 1938, 1939, 1942, 1944, 1945, 1946 and he captained Thurles to his ninth success in 1952.
His first outing with the county was as a minor in 1933, when he won his first All-Ireland medal. He soon graduated to the senior team and won his first Munster and All-Ireland medals in 1937 at Killarney. He picked up a second Munster medal in 1941 in a delayed final. A third Munster and a second All-Ireland followed in 1945.
Four years later in 1949 Doyle was 34 years-old and was contemplating giving up inter-county hurling. On his way home from posting a letter to the county board announcing his retirement Doyle bumped into selector John Joe Callanan, who told Doyle that the regular corner-back was ill, and asked him if he would take his place and mark the great Christy Ring. Doyle agreed and he produced perhaps the greatest display of marking in the history of the game, holding the legendary Ring scoreless through 150 minutes of championship hurling. Tipp defeated Cork and Doyle went on to win a fourth Munster medal. The Munster champions later played Laois and won his third All-Ireland medal.
In 1950 he added a National League medal to his collection. He later won a fifth Munster title and subsequently played in another All-Ireland final. That day Tipp continued their hoodoo over Kilkenny and Doyle won his fourth All-Ireland medal. In 1951 Tipp continued their provincial dominance and Doyle added a sixth and final provincial medal to his ever-growing collection. The men from the Premier County later went on to defeat Wexford in a thrilling championship decider, giving Doyle his fifth and final All-Ireland medal. He won a second National League medal in 1952 and subsequently retired from inter-county hurling. He also won Railway Cup medals with Munster in 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1948 and 1950.
Nicknamed the Rubber Man, Tommy Doyle played at left wing-back
Paddy Ruschitzko (Laois) 1917 – 2004
Paddy Ruschitzko was born in New York of a Polish father and an Irish mother in 1917. When his father died his mother returned to Ireland and Paddy was reared in Muinebeag, Co. Carlow. Later the family moved to Mountmellick, Co. Laois, where Paddy learned his hurling skills. He later emigrated to England but returned to work at the Irish Worsted Mills in Portlaoise, where he ended up as manager and remained until the firm's closure in 1973. He played hurling with Clonad where the highlight of his achievement was three-in-a-row county senior hurling championship 1946-48. At intercounty level he was on the Laois minor hurling team beaten in by Tipperary in the 1934 All-Ireland final. In 1949 he captained the Laois senior side that caused a surprise when they defeated a powerful Kilkenny side in the Leinster final. Laois defeated Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final but lost the final to Tipperary by 3-11 to 0-3. Paddy played at left wing-back and he is the last Laois player to captain a Leinster title team.
Jack Lynch (Cork) 1917-1999
Jack Lynch was one of the great dual players, achieving impressive records in hurling and football.
He played his first hurling with his local club, Glen Rovers, in the Blackpool area of Cork city. He enjoyed early success, winning back to back minor hurling titles in 1933, and 1934 as captain. In the same year he won his first senior county title and it was the first of eight county titles in a row. He lost out on two finals in 1944 and 1945, when he played with Civil Service in Dublin. He finished off his club hurling career by winning a further three county medals in succession in 1948, 1949 and 1950.
At the same time he played Gaelic football with his local club, St. Nicholas, winning two county titles with them in 1938 and 1941.
By the late 1930s Lynch was a dual player with the Cork senior hurling and football teams. In 1939 he became the only player in history to captain both the inter-county hurling and football teams in the same year. That year he won the first of his six Munster hurling titles. The other five were won in 1942, 1943, 1944, 1946 and 1947.
He played in his first All-Ireland in 1939 when Cork lost to Kilkenny, He went on to win five titles in 1941, 1942, when he captained the team, 1943, 1944 and 1947. He also lost the 1946 final.
He won National League hurling titles in 1940, 1941 and 1948.
In football he won two Munster finals in 1943 and 1946. He went on to win a football All-Ireland in 1946, defeating Cavan in the final.
He won seven Railway Cup hurling medals in 1938, 1939, 1940, 1942, 1943, 1944 and 1949. In the 1944 Railway Cup semi-finals, played at Croke Park on February 20, Lynch played in three games on the day. In that year he played his club hurling with Civil Service and turned out with them in the morning, scoring 1-1. He then travelled to Croke Park and lined out with Munster against Ulster in football, scoring 0-2. Afterwards he lined out with the Munster hurlers against Ulster and scored 0-1. He missed out on a Railway Cup football medal with Munster in 1946 because he was under suspension for having attended a rugby match, the final Irish trial at the Mardyke, between the Probables and the Rest. Playing on the Rest team that day was his brother-in-law, John Harvey of U.C.C.
Jack Lynch played inter-county hurling from 1936-1950. He came to be regarded as one of the all-time greats of Gaelic games. His contribution to the game of hurling was first recognised when he was named as the "Hurling Captain of the Forties". In 1981 he won an All-Time All-Star award. In the centenary year of the G.A.A. in 1984 Lynch was named at centrefield on the "Hurling Team of the Century". At the special centenary All-Ireland final at Semple Stadium, he received one of the loudest cheers and rounds of applause when all the former All-Ireland winning hurling captains were introduced to the crowd. Shortly after his death in 1999 Lynch's reputation as one of the true greats of the game was further cemented when he was named on the "Hurling Team of the Millennium".
Jim Langton (Kilkenny) 1918-1974
Kilkenny lost a great hurler with the retirement of Lory Meagher after the 1937 All-Ireland defeat at Killarney, but they gained an outstanding replacement in Jim Langton, who made his debut with the county a year later.
Born in Laviston in 1918, he was a farmer by occupation and he played with Eire Óg, winning four county titles with the club in 1939, 1944, 1945 and 1947.
He made his first appearance with the county in 1938 in the replay of the Leinster final, when the selectors retained only six of the team beaten so badly in the previous year's All-Ireland. He wasn't on the original panel but he was so impressive in the preceding junior game against Laois he was added to the substitutes and played well when introduced near the end. Kilkenny lost the game. Langton won the first of his two All-Irelands in 1939. Kilkenny had a tough passage against Dublin in the Leinster final and won easily against Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final. The so-called 'Thunder and Lightning' final against Cork is regarded as one of the greatest finals ever played, which Kilkenny won by 2-7 to 3-3, with Langton scoring three points.
There was a long break to his second All-Ireland success in 1947. Kilkenny lost to Limerick in the 1940 All-Ireland, when Langton was captain, couldn't compete because of Foot and Mouth in 1941, lost to Dublin in Leinster in 1942, and sensationally to Antrim in the 1943 All-Ireland semi-final, to Wexford in Leinster in 1944, to Tipperary in the 1945 All-Ireland and to Cork in the 1946 final
When Kilkenny beat Cork in the 1947 final Jim Langton was unable to play because of injury. Kilkenny were beaten by Laois in 1948 and 1949 but qualified for the All-Ireland in 1950 before going down to Tipperary. Laois put paid to Kilkenny's chances in 1951, as did Wexford in 1952. They lost to Galway in the 1953 All-Ireland semi-final and were annihilated by Wexford, 5-11 to 0-7 in Leinster in 1954.
This was Jim Langton's forty-third and last championship appearance for Kilkenny during which he scored 15 goals and 146 points. His seventeen years of service as well as his outstanding hurling ability, probably deserved a greater reward but he was unfortunate that his illustrious career coincided with a low period in Kilkenny's hurling fortunes.
As well as his two All-Irelands his record includes eight Leinster titles, in 1939, 1940 1943, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1950 and 1953. He won Railway Cup medals in 1941 and 1954. His favourite position was wing-forward and was regarded as one of the greatest stylists in the game.
Regarded as one of the greatest players of all-time, Langton was the recipient of the GAA All-Time All-Star Award in 1984 while he was also included on both the G.A.A. Hurling Team of the Century and the G.A.A. Hurling Team of the Millennium.
Christy Ring (Cork) 1920-1979
Regarded as the greatest hurler of all time, Nicholas, Christopher, Michael Ring, better known as Christy, was born in Cloyne in 1920. A colossus among hurling greats, he possessed everything from talent and ferocious application to longevity and a string of records. Obsessive about the game, he worked relentlessly to sustain a formidable array of techniques, complemented by great vision and anticipation.
He started hurling in the street leagues in Cloyne, progressed to a county minor championship with St. Enda's of Midleton, won a county junior with Cloyne before finding his true home with Glen Rovers in 1941. He finished his club career with them in 1967, having won thirteen senior hurling championships in 1941, 1944, 1945, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1953, 1954, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1962, 1964. In the last year he also added a Munster Club medal.
His inter-county career began in 1938 with an All-Ireland minor medal and he progressed to senior ranks in late 1939, going on to win a National League medal in1940, followed by three other successes in 1941, 1947 and 1953.
The first of his eight All-Irelands was won in 1941 and others followed in 1942, 1943 and 1944 to achieve a unique four-in-a-row. After winning a fifth in 1946, a three-in-a-row was won in 1952, 1953 and 1954. Unfortunately for Ring he was unable to add another All-Ireland during the last ten years of his playing career. The nearest he got to another All-Ireland was as a selector for the Cork team during their three-in-a-row success in 1966, 1967, 1968. Ring's last visit to Croke Park was on the day of the 1978 All-Ireland. He was picked on the Team of the Century in 1984 and the Team of the Millennium in 2000.
In all Christy Ring made 64 championship appearances, which was a record until beaten by Brendan Cummins of Tipperary. His last championship appearance was against Waterford in the 1962 Munster championship. He was a non-playing substitute for the two games played by Cork in the 1963 championship and he was dropped from the panel in 1964, even though he was still willing to play.
Another aspect of Ring's greatness can be seen in his success in the Railway Cup competition. He played for Munster from 1941-1963, winning eighteen medals during that period. The only years he failed to win a medal were 1941, 1947, 1954, 1956, 1962. He gave some outstanding displays during these years, scoring 4-5 of Munster's total of 7.11 in the 1959 final, which coincided with the opening of the new Hogan Stand at Croke Park.
Christy Ring started our as goalkeeper, played for some time as a back and eventually found his true place in the forwards, where he was versatile enough to play in any position. He was the top scorer in the 1959-60 and 1960-61 National Leagues. He won the Caltex Hurler of the Year award in 1959.
Christy Ring died on March 2, 1979. An estimated 60,000 people lined the streets of Cork for his funeral. His graveside oration was delivered by Taoiseach Jack Lynch, who was a longtime hurling colleague at Glen Rovers and with Cork.
Gael Linn made a film of his hurling life in 1964. There is a life size statue of Ring in front of the G.A.A. pitch in Cloyne. The county's second stadium, Páirc Úi Rinn is named after him. There's the Christy Ring Bridge over the Lee. In 2005 the G.A.A. inaugurated a hurling competition, the Christy Ring Cup, in his honour. In 2006 a life size statue of him was unveiled at Cork Airport, ideally placed to welcome home locals and baffle tourists.
Jimmy Kennedy (Tipperary) 1926-2007
Jimmy Kennedy was born in Kildangan in 1926. After local national school he went to St. Flannan's College, Ennis, where he won Harty Cup and All-Ireland Colleges medals as well as an inter-provincial title with Munster Colleges. He attended University College, Dublin. As an Agriculture Science graduate he started work with Minch Norton Maltings and later Guinness Maltings. In 1971 he and his family purchased J. K. Moloney drapery business in Thurles and he continued there until his retirement to Puckane.
His first hurling medal was a North junior hurling championship with Kildangan in 1944. While at UCD he won a Fizgibbon Cup medal in 1948 and two Dublin county finals in 1947 and 1948. His prowess with U.C.D. soon brought him to the attention of the Dublin county selectors and he made his debut against Antrim in the winter of 1946. The following year he played with Dublin when the county was defeated by Kilkenny in the Leinster final. He won a Leinster medal in 1948 but lost out to Waterford in the All-Ireland. In the following spring he was captain of the Leinster side in the Railway Cup and this brought him to the attention of the Tipperary selectors.
After a lot of persuasion he threw in his lot with Tipperary for the 1949 championship and during three years amassed an impressive array of achievements. He won three Munster finals and three All-Irelands in 1949, 1950 and 1951, one National League title in 1950, plus a trip to New York, one Railway Cup medal in 1950, one Oireachtas medal in 1949, one Thomond Shield medal in 1951 and three Monaghan Cup medals in 1949, 1950 and 1951.
Jimmy Kennedy was one of the most skillful of forwards. He scored 6 goals and 37 points in the six games of the 1949 championship, 4 goals and 23 points in the five games of the 1950 championship. He was described as the' hurling aristocrat with the immaculate style', who moved with speed and grace.
His form declined during the 1951 championship and he didn't play in the All-Ireland against Wexford. When the twenty-one All-Ireland medals were distributed among the twenty-two on the panel, Jimmy was excluded in spite of the fact that he had played two championship games while five of the subs had played none! Jimmy was understandably upset and retired from the panel. He was twenty-five years of age.
Ned Power (Wateford) 1929–2007
There is an iconic photograph of Waterford goalkeeper, Ned Power, making a dramatic catch against Christy Ring of Cork in the 1959 Munster championship game. He was a goalkeeper who guarded the net with distinction and class for the county from 1957 to 1966, winning three Munster medals in 1957, 1959 and 1963 and an All-Ireland in 1959. He won a National League medal in 1963, a Railway Cup medal in 1966 and an Oireachtas medal in 1962.
In his early years he played with Dungarvan. Later with Tallow he won a county intermediate medal and was on the senior side beaten in the 1976 county final. He served as selector on county minor, U21 and senior teams and received the Waterford "Hall of Fame" award in 2001.
In retirement from hurling Power maintained a keen interest in coaching. A teacher by profession in Scoil Mhuire in Tallow, his coaching methods with Tallow GAA saw the club win almost every available county title between 1966 and 1980.
Ned Power died on November 15, 2007 after a long illness. His son, journalist Conor Power, has written a biography of his father.
John Doyle (Tipperary) 1930-2010
John Doyle, who was born in Holycross in 1930, stood out as a colossus on the hurling field during a playing period of nineteen years. A versatile back man, he played in both the halfback and the full line during his career. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest hurlers in the history of the game and is one of only a handful of players to have won All-Irelands in three decades. He won 8 All-Ireland medals on the field of play and was the second hurler after Christy Ring to achieve that honour.
He first played hurling with Holycross-Ballycahill and his successes with them included three senior county finals, in 1948, 1951 and 1954. He played with the club from 1947 to 1968.
His first appearance with the county was in the minor championship of 1947 and he won his first All-Ireland medal. He came on to the senior side in the replay of the first round of the 1949 Munster championship and never failed to turn out in a championship game between then and the All-Ireland of 1967. Neither did he ever go off injured. He won 8 senior All-Irelands in 1949, 1950, 1951, 1958, 1961, 1962, 1964 and 1965. National League titles were won in 1949, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1964, 1965. He won Railway Cup medals in 1952, 1953, 1955, 1960 and 1963. Oireachtas medals were won in 1949, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964 and 1965. He was picked on the Team of the Century in 1984 and the Team of the Millennium in 2000
Possessed of a strong physique and a long stride, Doyle was famed for his dependable close defensive play, marked by his ability to execute long clearances from very tight entanglements in his corner-back position. Individually, his mastery of the shoulder-to-shoulder charge, allied to an above average number of deliveries out of defence marked him apart. Collectively, with fellow inner-defenders, Michael Maher (Holycross-Ballycahill) and Kieran Carey (Roscrea), he completed a very formidable trio as Tipperary's last line of defence for a ten-year period from the late 1950s. Their marshalling of territory in front of goal was famously known as "Hell's Kitchen" because of the often tempestuous nature of the exchanges which greeted the dropping ball arriving from mid-field.
Liam Devaney (Tipperary) born 1935
Liam Devaney was born in Borrisileigh in 1935 and started off his inter-county career with two Munster and All-Ireland minor titles in 1952 and 1953. He made his debut with the Tipperary senior team in the 1954-55 National League, and won his first league medal when Tipperary defeated Wexford in the final. Two years later he added a second medal. He won further medals in 1959, 1960, 1961, 1964 and 1965, bringing his total to seven.
Championship success eluded him until 1958, when he won the first of five All-Ireland championships. The others were in 1961, when he was instrumental in ensuring Tipperary's victory against Dublin, 1962, 1964 and 1965. He was on the losing side in 1960, 1967 and 1968 and retired after the last defeat. He won eight Munster medals during these years, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1967 and 1968.
Liam Devaney was the most versatile of players and is reputed to have played for Tipperary in every position on the field except full-back. As mentioned above he moved to centreback in the 1961 All-Ireland when Tony Wall retired injured and he excelled in the position. He was most at home in the forwards and outstanding on the wing, where he had the facility to score long range points. He was able to strike the ball well on either side.
His star quality was recognised in 1961 when he was presented the Texaco Hurler of the Year award. His other achievements include three Railway Cup medals in 1961, 1963 1nd 1966, and six Oireachtas medals in 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1965 and 1968.
He was on the Borrisoleigh team that won divisional and county senior finals in 1953. He won three other divisional medals, in 1955, 1972 and 1973. In spite of many temptations to transfer to Thurles Sarsfields following his move to live in the town, he remained faithful to Borrisoleigh and finished out his hurling days with them in the mid-seventies.
Jimmy Doyle (Tipperary) born 1939
Regarded as one of the great stylist in the game of hurling, Jimmy Doyle was born in Thurles in 1939 in the shadow of Semple Stadium. Not a big man he excelled at a time when hurling was a much more physical game and survival depended on your ability to avoid your opponents if you couldn't mix it with them. His ball control was superb and regardless of the speed at which the sliotar arrived to his hurley, he was capable of killing it dead. His delicacy of touch and ability to curve a ball, set him apart from other forwards. A versatile player he could play in the half- or full-forward line. He was named in the right corner position in the Hurling Team of the Century and left corner-forward in the Hurling Team of the Millennium.
While in secondary school he won a Harty Cup medal with Thurles CBS in 1956. Already he had come to the notice of the county selectors and was picked as goalkeeper on the Tipperary minor team, beaten in the 1954 All-Ireland. He played a further three years as a minor and won three All-Ireland medals.
He made his debut with the county seniors in 1957 and played with them until 1973, winning six All-Ireland medals in 1958, 1961, 1962 (as captain), 1964, 1965 (as captain) and 1971. During the same period he lost three finals, in 1960, 1967 and 1968. In all, therefore, he played in thirteen All-Irelands, winning nine. He won seven National League titles in 1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1964, 1965 (as captain), and 1968. He also lost three finals in 1963, 1966 and 1971. Doyle retired after the 1973 championship. He had started his career in 1954 as a goalkeeper for the minors and he finished his intercounty hurling as a goalkeeper for the seniors, in the absence of Tipperary's regular goalkeeper, Tadhg Murphy.
His tally of 18 goals and 176 points from 39 senior championship games sets him up as one of the top ten scorers of all-time. He was Tipperary's top scorer until 2007, when his record was surpassed by Eoin Kelly. He won the Texaco Hurler of the Year award in 1965.
He won Railway Cup medals with Munster in 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1966, 1969 and 1970. He captained the side in 1963 and 1966. He was on the losing side in the 1962, 1964 and 1965 finals.
Jimmy Doyle played senior club hurling with Thurles Sarsfields between 1956 and 1975. His achievements at this level are equally impressive. He won county senior titles in 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965 and 1975. He was on the losing side in the 1960, 1968 and 1970 finals. He won a county senior football medal with Thurles Crokes in 1961. Earlier in his career, he won four county minor hurling medals in 1954, 1955, 1956 and 1957.
After his retirement Jimmy Doyle spent a couple of years managing the Laois senior hurling team.
Eddie Keher (Kilkenny) born 1941
Eddie Keher was born in Inistioge and is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the game. His club wasn't very successful but it came from nowhere to win a county title in 1968, to which Keher contributed significantly and the victory ensured that he was captain of the Kilkenny team that won the All-Ireland in 1969.
His natural talent was early recognised when he went to St. Kieran's College and he was a member of the county minor team for four years, winning four Leinster titles but no All-Ireland.
On his last year as a minor in 1959 he progressed to the senior team when he was drafted in for the replay of the senior All-Ireland. Over the next eighteen years he played fifty championship games and established himself as the most prolific scorer in the game. His tally of 36 goals and 307 points stood as the record until it was surpassed by Henry Shefflin. His tally of 2 goals 11 points in the All-Ireland final of 1972 was the record individual score for a final until surpassed by Nicky English's 2-12 in the 1989 final.
Eddie Kehir's achievements include six All-Irelands, 1963, 1967, 1969, 1972, 1974 and 1975, ten Leinster finals in 1963, 1964, 1966, 1967, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974 and 1975. He won National League titles in 1962, 1966 and 1976. Oireachtas meals were won in 1959, 1966, 1967 and 1969.
Keher was a regular member of the Leinster Railway Cup team, making his first appearance in 1961 and winning his first medal in 1964. Others followed in 1967, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1977, a total of nine medals, which is a record for a Leinster player.
Keher's outstanding talent was recognised when he was selected for the Texaco Hurler of the Year award in 1972. He won five consecutive All-Star awards between 1971-75. He was named for the left corner-forward position on the Hurling Team of the Century in 1984, and on the right corner-forward position on the Hurling Team of the Millennium.
Following his retirement from playing in 1977 Keher and Pat Henderson managed the Kilkenny senior team in 1979 and won an All-Ireland. Keher took over the team again in 1987 but without success.
Eamonn Cregan (Limerick) born 1945.
Eamonn Cregan's county career with Limerick spanned the period 1964-83. He had already won a Munster minor medal with his county in 1963 before graduating to senior ranks. Noted for his skill level, ball control, and scoring ability, he had great mental strength and was an outstanding forward, winning three All-Star Awards in the full-forward line, 1971, 1972 and 1980. He was also a distinguished centre-back as was revealed in the 1973 All-Ireland, when he was moved back to manage Kilkenny's, Pat Delaney. He was a dual player, equally adept at football, which he played at club and county level. He gave it up in 1971 to concentrate on hurling
His achievements include one all-Ireland senior hurling medal in 1973, four Munster senior hurling medals in 1973, 1974, 1080 and 1981. He won a National League title in 1971and an Oireachtas medal as well. While at school in Limerick CBS he won a Harty Cup medal. At the interprovincial level he won 4 Railway Cup medals with Munster in 1973, 1974, 1980 and 1981
With his club, Claughaun, he won three county senior hurling medals in 1968, 1971 and 1986 and four county senior football medals in 1967, 1969, 1970 and 1971.
Following his retirement he went into management and managed Clare, Limerick and Offaly. His most successful stint was with Offaly, taking them to two Leinster titles in 1994 and 1995, plus an All-Ireland in the former year, when Offaly's opponents in the final were his native Limerick.
Noel Skehan (Kilkenny) born 1945
Noel Skehan, who was born in 1945, played with the Bennetsbridge club, with whom he won six senior titles in 1960, 1962, 1964, 1966, 1967 and 1971.
He was a talented younger player and was a member of the county minor team in 1962, when he won Leinster and All-Ireland medals. In 1963 he was drafted into the senior ranks as understudy to his cousin, Ollie Walsh. Over the next nine seasons Skehan was a substitute on the senior side, making the occasional appearance and winning six Leinster and three All-Ireland titles. The latter were won in 1963, 1967 and 1969. Three Leinster titles were also won in 1964, 1966 and 1971.
In 1972 Skehan succeeded Walsh as goalkeeper and was to remain in charge until 1985. He won six All-Irelands and eight Leinster titles. His first in 1972 was spectactular when Kilkenny came back from the dead to beat Cork and Skehan was captain of the team. He also won Man of the Match and an All-Star award later.
In 1973 he won his second Leinster only to lose the All-Ireland and other Leinster titles followed in 1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1982 and 1983. As well as 1972, All-Irelands were won in 1974, 1975, 1979, 1982 and 1983. Four National League titles were won in 1966, 1976, 1982 and 1983. He won four Railway Cup medals in 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1979, out of eight final appearances. Oireachtas medals were won in 1966, 1967, 1969 and 1984.
His high standing as a goalkeeper was recognised in 1982 when he was given the Texaco Hurler of the Year award, only the second time for a goalkeeper to win this prestigious award. His standing is further reflected in his impressive tally of seven All-Star awards, five-in-a-row in 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1976, and two-in-a-row in 1983 and 1983
Skehan has also served as a selector with the Kilkenny senior hurlers under Brian Cody. During his tenure as a selector in the early 2000s, Kilkenny captured back-to-back All-Ireland titles in 2002 and 2003. Those two years also saw Skehan guide the Leinster provincial team to back-to-back Railway Cup titles.
Tony Doran (Wexford) born 1946
Tony Doran was born in Boolavogue in 1946. He joined the famous Buffer's Alley club and played with them for over thirty years, winning twelve senior titles with them in 1968, 1970, 1975, 1976, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1991 and 1992. Leinster titles were won in 1986, 1989 and 1993, with an All-Ireland also won in 1989.
At underage with the county Doran won a minor All-Ireland in 1963 and an under-21 medal in 1965.
He made his debut with the seniors in 1966 and won a National League title in 1967. In the same year he won his first Leinster and All-Ireland titles, scoring two goals in the latter match. A second Leinster title was won in 1970 but he had to wait until 1976 and 1977 for two further titles. Unfortunately there were defeats in the subsequent All-Irelands. He had no more success and retired after defeat by Offaly in the 1984 championship.
He won seven Railway Cup medals, five in a row with a great Leinster team between 1971 and 1975, and two further ones in 1977 and 1979. He won the Texaco Hurler of the Year award for his outstanding displays during the 1976 championship. In the same year he won an All-Star award.
Full-forward was his favourite position and poaching goals was his delight. His forte was reaching high for the ball, putting the head down and heading for goal, with the result usually a goal or a free. In forty championship appearances he scored 41 goals and 57 points.
Eamonn Grimes (Limerick) born 1947
Eamonn Grimes first revealed his hurling brilliance while a student at Limerick C.B.S., winning three Harty Cup medals in 1964, 1965 and 1966, and adding two All-Ireland Colleges medals in 1964 and 1966.
Grimes first came to prominence on the inter-county scene as a member of the Limerick minor hurling team in 1963. In that year he won the first of two Munster minor medals – the second was in 1965 – but lost the two All-Irelands to Wexford and Dublin respectively. He had no success with Limerick at under-21 level
He joined the Limerick senior team in 1966, playing his first game against Tipperary in the Munster championship on the day before he sat for his Leaving Certificate, and was a regular member of the side, usually playing at centrefield or wing-forward, until his retirement after the 1981 championship. During this time he won an All-Ireland medal in 1973, when he captained the team, and four Munster medals in 1973, 1974, 1980 and 1981. He also won a National League and an Oireachtas title in 1971. He won the first of two All-Star awards in 1973, when he was also named Texaco Hurler of the Year, and he won his second in 1975. Both awards were at wing-forward. He won two Railway Cup meals in 1976 and 1978
He played his club hurling with South Liberties, where he was joined by four brothers, Lar, John, Mikey and Joe. He won the first of four championship medals in 1972, the others coming in 1976, 1978 and 1981. Grimes retired from club hurling in 1986.
Frank Cummins (Kilkenny) born 1947
Frank Cummins, who was born at Knocktopher in 1947 and played hurling with his local club and Blackrock of Cork, is widely regarded as one of Kilkenny's greatest players. He was a member of the county senior hurling team from 1968 to 1984, playing in the challenging position of centrefield, where he won all his seven All-Ireland titles on the field of play and an eighth as a substitute in 1967. One measure of his greatness was his achievement in 1983 when, at thirty-six years of age, he was awarded the Texaco Hurler of the Year award.
Following secondary school in Belcamp College, where he played hurling and football and won a Leinster medal in the latter sport, he played junior hurling with Knocktopher, the forerunner of the famous Ballyhale Shamrocks club, Cummins joined Blackrock of Cork with whom he had a very successful career, winning six county titles in 1971, 1973, 1975, 1978, 1979 and 1985, five Munster Club titles (excluding 1985) and three All-Ireland club titles in 1971, 1973 and 1978.
At intercounty level he had no success at minor level and won a Leinster title at under-21 level. He joined the Kilkenny senior team for an Oireachtas game in 1966, was a non-playing substitute when Kilkenny won the All-Ireland in 1967 and found a regular place on the team in 1968. He won All-Ireland medals in 1967 (as substitute), 1969, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1979, 1982 and 1983. As well as these years he also won Leinster titles in 1971, 1973 & 1978. National League medals were won in 1976, 1982 and 1983.
Other achievements include six Railway Cup medals in 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1977, Oireachtas medals in 1969 and 1984 and All-Star Awards in 1971, 1972, 1982 and 1983.
John Connolly (Galway) born 1948
John Connolly was born in Connemara in 1948. While still young his family moved into Galway city and he played hurling with Castlegar. He was also adept at football and boxing. Also playing with his local club were his brothers, Padraic, Joe, Gerry, Michael, Tom and Murth. John won county senior titles with the club in 1967, 1969, 1972, when the club added Connacht, 1973, when the Connacht title was also won, 1979, when the club won Connaght and All-Ireland titles, and 1985.
Connolly made his debut with the county at underage level but without success and this continued at minor and under-21 level. Called up to senior level Galway were in the doldrums after eleven years in the Munster championship. His first success came in 1975 when he captained Galway to their first National League success since 1951 and won a place in the All-Ireland final, after shocking Cork in the semi-final, although losing to Kilkenny in the All-Ireland .
In 1979 Galway qualified for the All-Ireland again, having shocked Cork once again in the semi-final, but they went down badly in the final against Kilkenny. However, Connolly received his second All-Star award – his first had been awarded in 1971, the inaugural year of the award.
The high point of John Connolly's hurling career was in 1980 when Galway defeated Limerick in the All-Ireland and take their first title since 1923. They qualified for their third final in a row in 1981 before going down to Offaly, who were winning their first, in the All-Ireland. Connolly continued to play until 1984, when he retired. He won a Railway Cup medal in 1980, when Connacht defeated Munster.
John Horgan (Cork) born 1950
John Horgan began his club hurling career with Passage West but transferred to Blackrock in 1968. He had a very successful career with the club, winning county finals in 1971, 1973, 1975, 1978 and 1979, plus Munster medals in the same years with the exception of 1979, and All-Ireland medals in 1971, 1973 and 1978, when he was also captain.
Horgan ability was recognised at an early stage and he played on the Cork minor side for three years, winning Munster medals in 1966, 1967 and 1968, plus an All-Ireland in 1967. He was also successful at under-21 level, winning Munster and All-Ireland medals in 1970 and 1971.
He made his senior debut for Cork in the 1969-70 National League, when he won his first medal. He won two further league medals in 1974 and 1981. He won Munster medals in 1970, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979, when he was captain. His four All-Irelands were won in 1970, 1976, 1977 and 1978. Railway Cup medals were won in 1976 and 1978, as well as Oireachtas medals in 1973, 1974 and 1975.
John Horgan was a distinctive player on the field of play with his blond locks of hair waving in the wind as he came out of defence to clear the ball. Corner-back was his position and his ability was recognised in his three All-Star awards in the position, 1974, 1977 and 1978, as well as being named Texaco Hurler of the Year in the last year. He retired in 1981, managed Blackrock for a year in 1982, and came back twenty years later to look after Castlelyons, and later Douglas.
Joe McKenna (Limerick) born 1951
Although born in Shinrone, Co. Offaly in 1951, Joe McKenna played his hurling with South Liberties and Limerick. He won his first county senior title with them in 1972. Three more titles were won in 1976, 1978 and 1981. The club also lost Munster Club finals in 1976 and 1981.
Having played minor and under-21 with the county, McKenna joined the senior panel in 1971, though he didn't gain a regular place on the team until after the 1973 Munster final. In that year he won his first All-Ireland, when Limerick defeated Kilkenny, and he won a second Munster title in 1974 before losing the subsequent All-Ireland.
Limerick hurling went into decline after that until 1980, when McKenna won his third Munster final before losing the All-Ireland final to Galway. He won a fourth Munster medal in 1981 only to lose to Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final. His final success was a National League medal in 1984 and he retired for intercounty hurling in 1985.
McKenna was a very effective full-forward and his talent was recognised with six All-Star awards in 1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1980 and 1981, the last four of which were in the full-forward position.
He also won Railway Cup medals with Munster in 1976, 1981 and 1984.
Ger Loughnane (Clare) born 1953
Ger Loughnane was born in Feakle in 1953. He had some underage success with his club but he had to wait until the end of his hurling days to win a county final. Feakle were beaten in the 1987 final but came good in 1988, their first title since 1944. Earlier in his career, he won an intermediate final with the club in 1973. Loughnane also played with Wolfe Tones na Sionna for a couple of years in the mid-eighties.
While in school at St, Flannan's College he won a Munster Colleges under-15 medal but lost Dean Ryan Cup and Harty Cup finals. He was a member of the Clare minor team beaten in the 1971 Munster final and he was to lose finals also at under-21 level in 1972 and 1974.
He made his senior debut with the county in a National League game in 1972 and it was to be the first of over 100 appearances in the competition. He was a key member of the teams that captured successive league title in 1977 and 1978.
He made his championship debut in 1973 and one of the greatest disappointments of his life was the failure to win a Munster title. Clare came very near to doing so in 1977 and 1978, and Loughnane lost three other finals in 1974, 1981 and 1986. He captained the side at Semple Stadium in 1984 on a day when Tipperary needed a last-minute goal by Liam Maher from the rebound of a Seamus Power penalty to defeat Clare by a point.
As some consolation for these disappointments, Loughnane became the first Clare man to win an All-Star award in 1974 and he won a second award in 1978. His outstanding talent was also recognised when he was picked on the Munster team on six occasions, winning Railway Cup titles in 1976, 1978 and 1981. He retired from inter-county hurling in 1987 after 26 championship appearances.
Ger Loughnane made a greater impact on the public as a manager than as a player. He was in charge of the county from the end of 1994 to 2000. His achievements with Clare were historical, bringing them three Munster titles in 1995, 1997 and 1998, and two All-Ireland titles in 1995 and 1997, It is generally accepted that Clare should have gone the whole way in 1998 also. The 1995 Munster victory was the first for the county since 1932. His physical training sessions broke new ground but the work he did on the minds of the players was even more effective, giving them a belief in themselves which helped them overcome the psychological impact of years of defeat. He revolutionised ideas on team training.
Having retired from the management of Clare, Loughnane took over Galway for two years, 2006-2008, but without much success, getting the county to the 2008 final of the National League.
Jimmy Barry-Murphy (Cork) born 1954
One of the most versatile of sportsman, Jimmy Barry-Murphy played football and soccer (with Cork Celtic) as well as hurling. He played his hurling and football with St. Finbarr's. After an unsuccessful underage period he joined the senior team in 1972 and, in the light of his later profile for sportsmanship, was sent off and got a two-month suspension in his first year.
In 1974 he won county, Munster and All-Ireland club titles with the club. He had another clean sweep in 1977. In 1980 there was another county and Munster but defeat in the All-Ireland. Further county titles were won in 1981, 1982, 1984 and 1988, bringing his county tally to seven.
He had further success with the club in football. He won a county minor championship in 1971, under-21 in 1973 and senior in 1976, 1979 and 1980. In 1979 and 1980 the club progressed to Munster and All-Ireland titles, giving Barry Murphy the distinction of being a dual All-Ireland club medalist.
He was also a dual player at county level. He first came to prominence on the inter-county scene in 1971, winning a Munster minor football medal but losing the All-Ireland. He was also minor in 1972 when Cork went all the way with Munster and All-Ireland titles. He won a Munster under-21 title in 1974. By this stage he had progressed to the senior side and made a major contribution to Cork's Munster and All-Ireland titles in 1973. He added a second Munster title in 1974. He added a National League title in 1980 following which he retired from inter-county football.
His intercounty hurling career commenced with Munster and All-Ireland minor titles in 1971. He won another Munster title in 1972. In 1973 he won Munster and All-Ireland under-21 titles. He won a second Munster title in the grade in 1975.
In the same year he made his senior championship debut and won a Munster medal. He won further Munster titles in 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1982, when he was captain, 1983, 1984 1985 1986. He won five All-Irelands, a three-in-a-row in 1976-78, the centenary final in 1984, and 1986. He won two National League titles in 1980 and 1981. Oireachtas medals were won in 1975 and 1985. He also in a dual winner in Railway Cups, winning four football in 1975, 1976, 1977 and 1978, and one hurling title in 1981. He retired from intercounty hurling in 1987.
After a successful period of management of the Cork minor hurling team in 1994 and 1995, Jimmy Barry Murphy was in charge of the Cork senior team from 1995 to 2000, winning the All-Ireland in 1999, two Munster finals and a National League. He resumed management of the team in 2012.
Jimmy Barry Murphy was an outstanding player, a forward in hurling and football, and an enormously popular man. His greatness was recognised when he was awarded All-Star awards in hurling and football. His two hurling awards came in 1976 and 1978 and his football awards were in 1973 and 1974. His popularity was reflected in the reaction to the announcement of his retirement from hurling. On 2 April 1987, the announcement, edged in black, was spread across page one of the national newspapers in a style more familiar to the death of world leaders. The first modern Gaelic games superstar had finally retired.
John Fenton (Cork) born 1955
John Fenton was born in Midleton in 1955 and is regarded as one of the great Cork players. He started playing with the local club at minor level at the age of thirteen as a goalkeeper but he later made his life at midfield. There was little success until the club won the county intermediate title in 1978. Following on from, that he won his first senior title in 1983, the first to be won by the club since 1916. The club progressed to a Munster Club title before losing to Gort in the All-Ireland semi-final. Further titles were won in 1986, 1987 and 1991. In 1987 Fenton won a second Munster title and Midleton went all the way to win the All-Ireland Club championship on St. Patrick's Day 1988 and give him his All-Ireland medal.
Fenton played with the Cork minors without success. He won two Munster under-21 titles in 1975 and 1976 and, having lost the All-Ireland to Kilkenny in 1975, came good against the same opposition in the 1976 final.
He made his senior debut in 1975 and won a Munster medal, before losing in the All-Ireland semi-final. He found it difficult to become a permanent member of the team and missed out on the three All-Irelands won by Cork in 1976, 1977 and 1978. He won a second Munster in1979 but again lost out to Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final. He won a third Munster medal in 1982. By 1983 he had become a key member of the team and won his fourth Munster title that year.
He won his fifth Munster medal and his first All-Ireland in 1984 and was captain of the side as a result of Midleton's success. A sixth Munster title was won in 1985. In 1986 he won his seventh Munster and second All-Ireland titles. He retired after defeat in the 1987 Munster final.
His other achievements included two National League medals in 1980 and 1981, three Railway Cups in 1981, 1984, when he was captain, and 1985, and he also captained Cork to the Centenary Cup victory in 1984.
In retrospect it is difficult to understand why it took Fenton so many years to become a permanent member of the Cork team. Once he established himself he was outstanding, winning five successive All-Star awards between 1983-87 and the Texaco Hurler of the Year award in 1984. He was professional in his approach to training and preparation and his goal from forty-five yards out in the 1987 Munster semi-final is listed as one of RTE's Top G.A.A. Moments.
Liam Fennelly (Kilkenny) born 1958
Although born in Piltown in 1958 Liam Fennelly at the age of three years moved with his family to live in Ballyhale and he had a very successful career with that club, which was founded only in 1972 with help from his father. He won his first county medal in 1978 and he added eight more titles during his playing career with the club. These were won in 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1988, 1989 and 1991. To these nine county successes were added four Leinster titles in 1978, 1980, 1983 and 1989, as well as All-Ireland titles in the last three years. In the All-Ireland final of 1980 Liam Fennelly had six brothers on the team with him.
Fennelly first came to prominence in the county in the mid-seventies, winning a Leinster minor title in 1976. As a substitute on the under-21 side he won Leinster and All-Ireland titles in 1977
He made his debut with the seniors in 1981 and he played thirty-one championship games until his retirement in 1992. He won All-Ireland in 1982, 1983 and 1992, having the distinction of captaining the team on two occasions, in 1983, when he was the last Kilkenny captain to receive the original Liam McCarthy Cup, and 1992, when he became the first captain to receive the new McCarthy Cup. During the same period he won six Leinster titles in 1982, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1991 and 1992. He won National League titles in 1982, 1983, 1986 and 1990.
His standing as a hurling forward is reflected in his four All-Star awards in 1983, 1985, 1987 and 1992, as it is in his selection at full-forward in the Kilkenny Team of 125 Years, which was picked in 2010.
Conor Hayes (Galway) born 1958
Conor Hayes was born in Kiltormer in 1958 and played with the local club. Success came in 1976 when he won his first county senior medal. Other titles were won in 1977, 1982, 1990 and 1991. Connaght titles were won in 1982, 1990 and 1991, but it took until the last year for the club to progress all the way to capture the All-Ireland title, defeating Birr in the final, following a three-game saga with Cashel King Cormacs in the semi-final.
Hayes first came to prominence with the county at under-21 level in the late seventies. In 1978 he won an All-Ireland medal when Galway defeated Tipperary in a replay. In 1979 he captained the side to defeat by the same opposition in the final.
By this stage Hayes had already made his debut with the county seniors and Galway qualified for the 1979 final, following an unexpected victory over Cork in the semi-final. They lost on a day when the Galway goalkeeper had a nightmare performance.
All this was forgotten in the euphoria of going all the way in the 1980 final and hearing Joe Connolly's speech and Joe McDonagh's rendition of 'The West Awake' after receiving the McCarthy Cup. Hayes was in a third final in 1981 but went down to Galway, and the same happened in the 1985 and 1986 finals. The worm eventually turned with victories in the 1987 and 1988 All-Irelands and there should have been a further victory in 1988 but for the Keady affair. Hayes was captain of the side for the three years, an indication of his standing among his fellow players not only as a hurler but as a leader of men. He retired from inter-county hurling following the 1989 defeat.
Hayes won two National League titles in 1987 and 1989. He won four Railway Cup medals in 1980, 1983, 1986 and 1987, when he captained the side. He won three consecutive All-Star awards at full-back in 1986, 1987 and 1988.
Hayes took over the management of the Galway senior team at the end of 2002. There was no success in 2003, a National League title was won in 2004, Kilkenny were beaten in the All-Ireland semi-final in 2005 but the final was lost to Cork, and there was no success in 2006, at the end of which he resigned.
Ger Cunningham (Cork) born 1961
Ger Cunningham was born in 1961 and played his club hurling with St Finbarr's. He tasted his first success in 1980 when the club won the county senior title, and he won further titles in 1981, 1982, 1984, 1988 and 1993. A Munster title was also won in 1980.
When he was drafted into the county set-up in the late seventies, he was a dual player and played hurling and football at minor level. He won two Munster and All-Ireland hurling titles in 1978 and 1979. He won an under-21 football title in 1981 and a hurling title in 1982.
Cunningham joined the Cork senior panel as early as 1979 and made his debut in a challenge match in 1980. He replaced Timmy Murphy as first-choice goalkeeper in 1981 and remained so until 1998, playing in fifty championship and one hundred and eleven National League games.
During this period Cunningham won seven Munster titles in 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, when he captained the side, 1986, 1990 and 1992, and three All-Irelands in 1984, 1986 and 1990. National League titles were won in 1981, 1993 and 1998. He won Railway Cup medals in 1984, 1985 and 1992.
Following his playing career he served as a selector and goalkeeping coach to the Cork team under managers Donal O'Grady and John Allen from 2003 to 2006. In 2009 he took over the manager's role with Ballygunner.
Ger Cunningham was an outstanding goalkeeper for nearly twenty years and his talent in the position was recognised with three All-Star awards in 1984, 1985 and 1986, as well as the prestigious Texaco Hurler of the Year in 1986.
Nicky English (Tipperary) born 1962
Born in the parish of Lattin-Cullen in 1962, Nicky English was one of the outstanding forwards to play for Tipperary. He played senior hurling from 1982 until 1996, taking part in thirty-five championship games and scoring 20 goals and 117 points. He holds the modern record for the greatest number scores in an All-Ireland final, 2-12 in 1989. In that year his greatness was honoured when he won the Texaco Hurler of the Year award, as it was in the six All-Star awards he received during his career, in 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988 and 1989.
His club, Lattin-Cullen, was a dual club and he won three divisional titles with it, intermediate football in 1989, junior hurling in 1992 and intermediate hurling in 1996. During his time at U.C.C. he won five Fitzgibbon Cups in a row, 1981-85, scoring in all five finals.
His intercounty career commenced as a minor in 1979 and he won an All-Ireland in 1980. He joined the county under-21 side in 1981, winning an All-Ireland in that year., was on the side beaten in the centenary Munster final by Cork at Thurles and was part of the team that came good during the end of the eighties. He won two senior All-Irelands in 1989 and 1991, five Munster titles in 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991 and 1993, and two National League titles in 1988 and 1994. He won two Railway Cup medals in 1984 and 1985. He won an Oireachtas medal in 1990.
In 1999 English was appointed manager of the Tipperary senior team and remained in charge until defeated in the 2002 championship. The high point of his managerial period was winning the National League and All-Ireland championship in 2001.
Nicky English was one of Tipperary's greatest forwards and his talent was recognised when chosen in the left full-forward position on the Tipperary Hurling Team of the Century.
Pat Fox (Tipperary) born 1962
Pat Fox was born in Annacarty in 1962 and he played with the local club, Eire Óg, with whom he had little success until senior level, winning West titles in 1981 and 1986. He started his intercounty career with the Tipperary minors but he had to wait until under-21 level to achieve success. He won three All-Irelands at this level, in 1979, 1980 and 1981. To this can be added two Munster medals. He wasn't drafted into the team in 1979 until after the Munster final. Pat was young enough for under-21 in 1982 when the over-hyped and over-confident side, with eleven of the previous year's panel, threw away a glorious opportunity in the Munster championship outing against Limerick. Pat started off at centrefield but reverted to corner-back and ended up as corner-forward.
Pat had already made his way on the senior panel as early as 1979 in the league and made his championship debut against Cork at centrefield in partnership with Gerry Stapleton. In these years Tipperary were in the doldrums. Because of a knee injury he dropped out in 1983 and played junior in 1984. He was back on the side in 1985 and 1986.
When Babs took over at the end of 1986 Pat was in his plans and he was part of the recovery of Tipperary's fortunes. His first senior success came on the historic day at Killarney in 1987 and he went on to win four more Munster finals in 1988, 1989, 1991 and 1993. His two All-Irelands came in 1989 and 1991. Probably the high point in his hurling was in the latter year. He was awarded the RTE Man of the Match award for his display in the All-Ireland, in which he scored five points. He was also voted the Most Consistent Player of the Year in the same year. He was made Tipperary Person of the Year and he capped the year with the Texaco Hurler of the Year award.
As well as the above honours and achievements, Pat also won two National League titles in 1988 and 1994.He won an Oireachtas medal in 1990. He won All-Star Awards in 1987, 1989 and 1991.
In the 37 senior championship games he played with Tipperary, he scored 13 goals and 98 points.
Joe Cooney (Galway) born 1965
Joe Cooney was born in Bullaun in 1965, the tenth child in a family of fourteen. He attended St. Raphael's School in Loughrea. Playing his club hurling with Sarsfields, he enjoyed much success. He won a county under-21 medal in 1984 and five years later won the first of five senior titles. The remaining four were won in 1992, 1993, 1995 and 1997. Connaght titles were added in the same years, and All-Irelands in 1992 and 1993. In the 1989 final which Sarsfields lost to Ballyhale Shamrocks, five Cooney brothers lined out against seven Fennellys!
Cooney first came to prominence with Galway when he won a minor All-Ireland in 1983 against a Dublin team that included Niall Quinn. Three years later he won an under-21 All-Ireland.
He made his debut with the county seniors in 1985 when Galway lost the All-Ireland to Offaly. He lost a second All-Ireland in 1986. Before lining out for his third All-Ireland in 1987, he won a National League medal. He won All-Irelands in 1987 and 1988. A third ought to have been won in 1989 but the Keady affair scuppered Galway's chances. In place of it Cooney had to be satisfied with a second National League title. Galway reached the All-Ireland again in 1990 but lost to Cork.
Galway's fortunes declined after that and, although Cooney continued to play inter-county hurling until 2000, he won nothing more. He played in the 1993 All-Ireland final only to lose to Kilkenny.
As well he won three National League titles in 1987, 1989 and 1996, and four Railway Cup medals in 1986, 1987, 1989 and 1991. His great talent was recognised when he was named Texaco Hurler of the Year in 1987 and he won five All-Star awards, in 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989 and 1990, in a long and distinguished hurling career.
Liam Dunne (Wexford) born 1968
Liam Dunne played his club hurling with Oulart the Ballagh. After making his senior debut with the club in 1986, he won his first county title in 1994, and went on to win five more 1995 1997, 2004, 2005 and 2007 in a glorious period of club history. Leinster finals were lost in 1994 and 1995.
At county level he played minor in 1985 and 1986, winning a Leinster title in the first year. He was called up to the under-21 team in 1986 and won a Leinster title. He won a second title in 1987.
He made his senior debut in 1988 in the Oireachtas competition, later playing in the championship and made thirty-eight appearances until he retired early in 2004. He had to wait until 1996 for his first success. Under the management of Liam Griffin Wexford captured the Leinster and All-Ireland titles. Dunne won a second in 1997, when the Leinster title was retained. During the remainder of his career Wexford reached the semi-final through the back door in 2003 but no more titles were won and he retired early in 2004. He won a Railway Cup medal in 1993.
Following his retirement he went into management first with the county juvenile teams in 2005 and later with the minor team, for two years in 2007. He took over the Oulart the Ballagh in 2009 and he won three county finals in a row, 2009-2011. He was appointed manager of the Wexford team at the end of 2011.
Liam Dunne was one of the finest players to come out of Wexford and his talent was recognised in three All-Star awards in 1990, 1993 and 1996. In 2004 he released his autobiography, I crossed the Line, in which he revealed his battle with alcoholism.
Anthony Daly (Clare) born 1969
Anthony Daly was born in Clarecastle in 1969 and played his hurling with the local club. While at school at St. Flannan's College he won both Dr. Harty Cup and All-Ireland Colleges titles. He made his senior championship debut with Clarecastle in 1987 and won his first county final. He won further titles in 1991, 1994, 1997 and 2003. In 1997 the club also won a Munster Club medal before losing to Birr in a replayed All-Ireland semi-final.
At the county level he featured on the minor and under-21 sides without success and he graduated to the Clare senior team in the 1989 National League, winning a Division 2 medal. He made his championship debut 1990 and made 33 appearances until his retirement in 2000. In 1992 he was appointed captain of the team, a position he held until his retirement. There was no success until 1994 when he won a second Division 2 medal in the National League.
Following Ger Loughnane's takeover as manager, Clare's hurling fortunes improved and Daly won his first Munster title in 1995, followed by the county's first All-Ireland since 1914. Daly added a second Munster title and All-Ireland in 1997. He won his third Munster medal in 1998 and was unlucky not to add a third All-Ireland.
He won two Railway Cup medals in 1995 and 1996, captaining the team in the latter year. He received three All-Star awards in 1994, 1995 and 1998
Following his retirement from playing Daly took over the management of Clarecastle in 2002. This was followed by the management of the Clare senior team from 2003 to 2006. In 2008 he took over the management of the Dublin senior team and was still with them in 2013.
Anthony Day was an impressive wing-back and an even more impressive captain, who led a team of a well-behaved and disciplined bunch of players and gave them an articulate voice.
Ciaran Carey (Limerick) born 1970
Ciaran Carey was born in 1970 at Patrickswell and became one of the finest hurlers of his generation, excelling in the centreback position. He won his first county medal as a minor with Patrickswell in 1984, and his first senior medal as a seventeen-year old in 1987. Further medals were won in 1988, when Patrickswell added a Munster Club medal. A third county medal was won in 1990 and this was followed by defeat in the All-Ireland Club final. During the next decade the club were very successful with further titles coming to them in 1993, 1995, 1996 and 1997. Two more titles were won in 2000 and 2003 for a total of nine titles.
Carey made his senior debut with Limerick in 1989 and won his first title, the National League, in 1992 A second was won in 1997. He had to wait until 1994 for his first Munster title but then had to endure a heartbreak defeat by Offaly in the All-Ireland. In 1996 he won his second Munster final but lost again in the All-Ireland to Wexford. Carey played a captain's part in the Munster semi-final, when he got the vital score to beat All-Ireland champions, Clare. He captained Limerick again in 2004 but retired before the championship.
Four years after his retirement he lined out for Limerick in the intermediate championship and won a Munster medal. Unfortunately defeat was his lot against Kilkenny in the All-Ireland.
Carey was first selected for Munster in the Railway Cup in 1991. His first success was in 1995 and he made it three-in-a-row by winning in 1996 and 1997. He won his fourth medal in 2001. He won three All-Star awards in 1992, 1994 and 1996, at centreback in 1992 and 1996, and at centrefield in 1994.
Following his playing career he turned to management. In 2007 he guided Limerick camogie to All-Ireland B final. In the same year he managed Tournafulla without success. In 2008 he was appointed to the Limerick under-21 team but he had no success. He became part of the senior management team in 2011.
D. J. Carey (Kilkenny) born 1970
Denis Joseph Carey was born in Waterford in 1970. His hurling skills were recognised early on and he won All-Ireland Colleges titles in 1988 and 1989 while a student at St. Kieran's College.
He had further success with his club, Young Irelands. Having won some underage titles as a goalkeeper, he won an intermediate title in 1992 and followed up with senior titles in 1996 and 2002. His last game with his club was a relegation play-off in 2007.
He was already part of the county make-up when he won Leinster and All-Ireland minor titles in 1988, followed by Leinster and All-Ireland under-21 titles in 1990.
He made his senior debut in the 1988-89 National League and from then until his retirement in the early part of 2006 he graced the hurling fields of Ireland with some of the most skillful and stylish hurling ever played. There was one blip in his career during this period, in 1998, when he announced he was retiring at the age of 27 years. Six weeks later, following an avalanche of an estimated 25,000 letters from admirers around the country, he reversed his decision.
Carey's achievements during his career are impressive. They included five All-Irelands in 1992, 1993, 2000, 2002 and 2003 as captain, As well as in these years he won five other Leinster titles in 1991, 1998, 1999, 2001 and 2005. National League titles were won in 1990, 1995, 2003 and 2005 and Railway Cup medals were won in 1993 and 1998.
Probably the greatest measurement of D. J. Carey's standing in the pantheon of great players was his reception of the Texaco Hurler of the Year award on two occasions, the first in 1993 when, as a twenty-two year old, he was one of the youngest to receive it, and a second in 2000. Allied to this is his nine All-Star awards, five in a row between 1991 and 1995 and1997, 1999, 2000 and 2002. He played in fifty-seven championship games, scoring 34 goals and 195 points.
Johnny Dooley (Offaly) born 1971
Johnny Dooley was born near Clareen in 1971 and played hurling with the Seir Kieran club. He enjoyed some success at underage level before winning four senior championships in 1988, 1995, 1996 and 1998.
His obvious talent as a hurler was recognised at county level and he played minor hurling for three years, winning Leinster and All-Ireland titles in 1987 and 1989. In the latter year he was on the under-21 side that won the Leinster title but lost to Tipperary in the All-Ireland. Dooley won two further Leinster titles at this level in 1991 and 1992 but was unfortunate to lose both All-Irelands, to Galway and Waterford respectively.
Dooley made his senior debut in the 1990-91 National League and won the title with the defeat of Wexford in the final. He lined out in the championship for the first time in 1991. There wasn't any more success until 1994 when he won Leinster and All-Ireland titles, following Offaly's dramatic win over Limerick. Another Leinster followed in 1985 but defeat to Clare followed in the All-Ireland. There was no more success until 1998 when Offaly came through the back door, following defeat by Kilkenny in the Leinster final, got through Clare in controversial circumstances in the All-Ireland semi-final and reversed the Leinster result by beating Kilkenny in the final. It was Dooley's second All-Ireland. There was no more success, although Offaly qualified for the All-Ireland final in 2000, only to be badly beaten by Kilkenny, and he retired prematurely in 2002 following a serious knee injury.
Johnny Dooley was a skillful and exciting hurling and his talent was recognised in three All-Star awards in 1994, 1995 and 2000.
Brian Whelehan (Offaly) born 1971
Brain Whelehan was born in Banagher in 1971. After some schooling in Banagher he moved into Birr and attended the local Community School and he was a sub on the team that captured the Leinster and All-Ireland Colleges titles in 1986.
He started playing his club hurling with Birr and his career with them was outstandingly successful. He won twelve county titles in 1991, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. Seven of these county titles were converted into Leinster Club titles in 1991, 1994, 1997 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2007. In turn four of these were converted into All-Ireland Club titles in 1995, 1998, 2002 and 2003.
Whelehan was soon recognised at county level and he won two Leinster and All-Ireland minor medals in 1987 and 1989. He was four years on the under-21 team, winning three Leinsters in 1989, 1991 and 1992 but losing all three All-Irelands.
He made his senior championship debut against Antrim in the 1989 All-Ireland semi-final, which Offaly surprisingly lost. He won his first Leinster senior title in 1990 and a National League medal in 1991. In 1994 he won Leinster and All-Ireland medals, when Offaly dramatically snatched the latter from Limerick. A Leinster title was won again in 1995 but there was no joy in the All-Ireland against Clare. There was controversy in 1998 when Offaly lost in Leinster final to Kilkenny but qualified for the All-Ireland against the same opposition and won. Offaly got to the All-Ireland through the back door in 2000 but were badly beaten by Kilkenny. There was no success for Whelehan during the final six years of his inter-county career and he retired in 2006 after fifty-five championship appearances, two All-Irelands, four Leinster titles, one National League, and two Railway Cup medals in 1998 and 2003.
Brian Whelehan's hurling greatness was recognised in 1994 when he was given the Texaco Hurler of the Year Award. Controversially, in the same year he failed to receive an All-Star award. He received four All-Star awards during his career in 1992, 1995, 1998 and 1999, three of them at wing-back and the 1998 award at full-forward. Probably the greatest testament to his standing as a hurler was his selection on the Team of the Millennium in 2000, the only hurler selected, who was still playing.
Brian Lohan (Clare) born 1971
Brain Lohan was born in November 1971 and played his club hurling with Wolfe Tones na Sionna. The club won its first senior championship in 1996 and a second in 2006. In 1996 Lohan won a Munster Club medal before going down to Athenry in the All-Ireland final.
During his years at the University of Limerick he captained UL to Fitzgibbon Cup victory in 1994 and was named player of the tournament.
He played minor and under-21 with the county but enjoyed no success. He made his debut with the seniors in the 1993 National League and in the championship the same year. His first success was in 1995 when a very well Ger Loughnane-prepared team defeated Limerick in the Munster final, the county's first success since 1932. Clare went on to take their first All-Ireland title since 1914. After surrendering the provincial crown in 1996, Lohan went on to win his second Munster and All-Ireland titles in 1997. He won a third Munster title in 1998 but events conspired to prevent him winning a third All-Ireland. Lohan continued to play with Clare until after the 2006 championship.
Lohan won Railway Cup medals with Munster in 1996, 1997 and 2000. His talent as a full-back was recognised in four All-Star awards, in 1996, 1997, 1998 and 2002.
He went into management following his retirement from playing, managing Patrickswell in 2010 and 2011. He took charge of the UL Fitzgibbon team in 2012.
Brendan Cummins (born 1975) Tipperary
Brendan Cummins was born in Ardfinnan in 1975 and as a dual player plays football with Ardfinnan and hurling with Ballybacon-Grange. In 1998 won the first of five divisional intermediate South titles with Ballybacon-Grange. He won further titles in 2003, 2004, 2007 and 2012.
At county level he won a Munster minor hurling medal in 1993 and Munster and All-Ireland under-21 medals in 1995.
By this stage he had joined the county senior hurling and football teams and he won his only football medal when the county won the McGrath Cup in 1993.
He made his championship debut with the hurlers in 1995 but had to wait until 1999 for his first success, a National League medal. He won two further league medals in 2001 and 2008.
He won his first Munster and All-Ireland medals in 2001. He collected his second in 2008, and three more in 2009, 2011 and 2012. He won a second All-Ireland medal in 2010. He made his 72nd championship appearance in 2013, his nineteenth season, which would have been 78 but for the six championship games he was dropped for by Babs Keating after the first round of the 2007 Munster championship. The figure still remains a record.
Cummins has lined out for Munster on many occasions in the Railway Cup and has three titles to his credit, winning his first in 1996 and two more in 2000 and 2001. He was on the victorious side in the Waterford Crystal Trophy on three occasions, 2007, 2008 and 2012.
Another achievement of Brendan Cummins has been his success in the annual Poc Fada competition held in the Cooley mountains. After winning the pairs competition with Ian Scallan of Wexford in 1999, he went on to win seven singles titles in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008 2011, 2012 and 2013.
One of the measurements of his goal-keeping talent are his five All-Star awards in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2008 and 2010.
Henry Shefflin (born 1979) Kilkenny
Henry Shefflin was born in Waterford Regional Hospital in 1979 and is arguably the greatest hurler of all time. He joined the Kilkenny senior team during the 1999 hurling championship and has been a regular member of the team since then. He never failed to turn out for a championship game until 2013, when injury prevented him being picked for the opening game against Offaly. During that period of time he played sixty-two championship games and scored 27 goals and 480 points. He won twelve Leinster titles and appeared in twelve All-Irelands, winning nine on the field of play, the only hurler ever to have done so. He also won five National League titles in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2009..
Following his primary education in Ballyhale he went to St. Kieran's College and, after a slow start, made the senior team with whom he won Leinster and All-Ireland Colleges titles in 1996. He went from there to Waterford Institute of Technology and won back to back Fitzgibbon Cups with the Institute in 1999 and 2000.
With his club Ballyhale Shamrocks he won his first medal, a county minor title, in 1997. In the same year he won a county intermediate medal, following which the club was promoted senior. He won his first county senior title in 2006 and went on to win Leinster and All-Ireland titles. The club won a second county in 2007 but Shefflin played no part because of injury. He won county and Leinster titles in 2008. In 2009 there was another county and Leinster success, and a second All-Ireland in 2010.
He first came to prominence in the county at minor level and won Leinster titles in 1996 and 1997. Progressing to under-21 he won Leinster titles in 1998 and 1999, to which was added an All-Ireland in the latter year. He also played county intermediate in 1998 and won a Leinster medal before being beaten by Limerick in the All-Ireland.
As well as the senior achievements mentioned above, Shefflin has won three Railway Cup medals, in 2002, 2003 and 2009. The latter victory was achieved over Connaght and was won in Dubai.
His personal achievements are hugely impressive. He is the holder of eleven All-Star awards, a record. His hurling prowess has earned him the Vodafone, Texaco and GPA Hurler of the Year awards in 2002 and 2006. In the latter year he was also presented with the RTE Sportsperson of the Year award. In 2009 he was chosen number one on the list of 125 greatest hurling stars. In 2012 he became the first person to win the Vodafone Hurler of the Year award for the third time. In the same year in a survey to find the Most Admired Irish Sports Personality he featured in the top ten.
Probably one of his greatest performance on the field of play was in the drawn 2012 All-Ireland final. On a day when it was expected that the younger members of the team would be setting the pace and carrying the day, it was Henry Shefflin who helped Kilkenny to draw and fight another day.
Eoin Kelly (born 1982) Tipperary
Eoin Kelly was born in Mullinahone in 1982 and played hurling and football with the local club. His biggest achievement with the club was winning the county senior hurling final in 2002, a first for the club, for which he received the Man of the Match award. He won county intermediate football championships in 2000, 2006 and 2011.
While at school at St. Kieran's College, he won two Leinster Colleges medals in 1999 and 2000, and won an All-Ireland Colleges medal in the latter year. He won a Fitzgibbon Cup medal with Limerick Institute of Technology in 2005 as captain of the side.
His talent was recognised at an early age and he first played county minor as a goalkeeper at the age of fifteen years. He won a Munster title in 1997 and a second in 1999 but failed in the All-Ireland on both occasions. He won Munster under-21 medals in 1999 and 2003 but failed at the All-Ireland semi-final stage on both occasions.
Kelly made his debut on the county senior team in 2000, on a day when he doubled as sub-goalie and forward substitute. In 2001 he won National League, Munster and All-Ireland titles. He had to wait until 2008 for a second Munster title, when he raised the cup in the absence of Paul Ormonde. In the same year he won his second National League medal. He won a third Munster title in 2009 before going down to Kilkenny in the final. In 2010 following defeat by Cork in the Munster championship, Tipperary went all the way to claim the All-Ireland giving Kelly his second title, this time as captain, the first player from South Tipperary to do so. Further Munster titles were won 1n 2011 and 2012. He made his fifty-eighth appearance as a substitute in the 2013 championship at which stage he had compiled a total score of 21 goals and 362 in championship hurling.
Kelly first played Railway Cup hurling in 2001, when he won the title with Munster. He had to wait until 2005 for his next success, and he won a third title in 2007. The final against Connacht was the first hurling game to be played under floodlights at Croke Park.
Eoin Kelly's special talent was recognised early in his career when he was elected Young Hurler of the Year in successive years, 2001 and 2002. He received six All-Star awards during his career, in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2010.
Tommy Walsh (born 1983) Kilkenny
Tommy Walsh was born in Tullaroan in 1983 and plays with his local club. While at school in St. Kieran's College he won two Leinster Colleges and one All-Ireland Colleges titles. While at U.C.C. he didn't enjoy any success on the hurling field.
With the famous Tullaroan club he enjoyed much success at underage level, winning A titles at every grade from primary school to under-21 level. Included in these successes was the 1997 Féile under-14 A division All-Ireland win. However, he still awaits his first senior county win.
At county minor level he won a Leinster medal in 2001. He was more successful at under-21 level winning two Leinster and two All-Ireland medals in 2003 and 2004.
He joined the senior panel in 2002, when he shared the county's National League, Munster and All-Ireland titles. His achievements since them have been outstanding. They include eight All-Ireland medals. As well as 2002 he won in 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012, eight Leinster titles, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, six National League titles in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2012 and 2013, and four Walsh Cup medals, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009.
Railway Cup medals were won in 2006, 2008 as captain, and 2009.
Tommy Walsh is the outstanding wing-back in the game at the moment and would be a major contender for the title of all-time great. His incredible ability has been recognised in nine successive All-Star awards in five different positions, an achievement never equalled, in the years 2003-2011 inclusive.
The year 2009 was probably the highpoint of his achievements when he was named the Texaco Hurler of the Year, the All-Stars Hurler of the Year and the GPA Hurler of the Year. In the same year he captained the composite rules game (shinty-hurling) team to victory over the Scots at Inverness.