WHEN selecting the best hurlers over any period in time one has to be mindful of the fact that the teams that they played on were some of the finest of all time.
So, when it comes to selecting a team from across the GAA landscape over the past half century the best players from those successful counties have to be considered.
In a perfect world we’d love to select 15 from Cork but that cannot be the case and, as a result, some iconic names are going to be omitted.
First to the goalkeeping position and we have narrowed it down to just two, Kilkenny’s Noel Skehan and our own Ger Cunningham.
Earlier in the week we listed a few other names that would be worthy of selection too but few could argue with either the Kilkenny great or Cork’s number one.
Either would be a perfect choice but we have gone for the Barrs clubman.
The three full-backs that we have chosen might not be to everybody’s satisfaction and that’s fully accepted.
On the right we have chosen Fan Larkin from Kilkenny, surely one of the great corner-backs of any era and the holder of seven All-Ireland medals.
Full-back was a straight choice between Diarmuid O’Sullivan and Brian Lohan and we came down on the side of the Clare man by a nose and because the Banner county deserved recognition for their victories in 1995 and 1997.
But this was a toss of a coin.
On the left the choice is John Horgan, his attributes have been well documented and he was a giant of a hurler in any era. He gets in ahead of Jackie Tyrell from Kilkenny.
Brian Whelehan from Offaly was chosen on the team of the millennium and he gets the nod here too ahead of Tommy Walsh. Surely one of the great hurlers of our time, the Birr clubman would live in any company.
Brian Corcoran could have been chosen in two or three different positions but he gets the number six slot ahead of Seanie McMahon and Ciaran Carey with Pádraic Maher very much in contention too.
The number seven position should brook little argument with JJ Delaney having to be recognised for his contribution to Kilkenny’s dominance under Brian Cody.
Centre-field was a minefield when it came to selecting two but our choice is Tipp’s Mick Roche and our own Gerald McCarthy.
Frank Cummins had to be in contention too among a host of others with John Fenton in equally close proximity for selection.
The forwards, choosing six from anything up to 30 or 40 was an impossible task. In fact you could choose 26.
The three that we have gone for are Eddie Keher, Henry Shefflin and Jimmy Barry-Murphy and that’s leaving out TJ Reid, Tony Kelly Ben O’Connor among a lot more!
Ray Cummins is easily the choice at full-forward and that should brook absolutely no argument.
Who to select alongside him, however, is a different story altogether?
You have so many to choose from and equally so many to leave out.
We’d love to include Nicky English, Pat Fox, Joe Deane, Tony Doran, Joe McKenna, Eamon Cregan but how can you omit Joe Canning.
It was particularly difficult to omit Cregan from the team.
In selecting all these players, we recognise the fact that some of them are out of position.
But, of course, in the modern game a player rarely stays in the one position over the 70 minutes.
There is so much movement of players now throughout a game and a player has to be able to fit in in in a host of positions.
A player might start on the forty and end up in the corner, that’s the way of the game now.
So to the three full-forwards that we have selected with Cummins at number 14.
On the right we have Joe Canning and on the left we have DJ Carey, surely two of the best forwards of any era with Charlie McCarthy very close as well.
In all probability nobody will agree with the majority of those selections but that’s fine and the way it should be.
It’s just one individual’s opinion and any other opinions would be equally respected.
So, as we put down 15 names, we are very conscious that we are leaving out some of the greatest hurlers of all time.
And, as stated earlier in the week, this was a task beyond impossible.
The team that gets the nod is:
Ger Cunningham (Cork);
Fan Larkin (Kilkenny), Brian Lohan (Clare), John Horgan (Cork);
Brian Whelehan (Offaly), Brian Corcoran (Cork), JJ Delaney (Kilkenny);
Mick Roche (Tipperary), Gerald McCarthy (Cork);
Eddie Keher (Kilkenny), Henry Shefflin (Kilkenny), Jimmy Barry-Murphy (Cork);
Joe Canning (Galway), Ray Cummins (Cork), DJ Carey (Kilkenny).
Team manager: Brian Cody (Kilkenny).