Four changes to the Cork hurling dream team 1970-2020 after readers vote

Four changes to the Cork hurling dream team 1970-2020 after readers vote
Ex-Cork hurler Wayne Sherlock breaks out past Antrim's Michael Herron at Croke Park. The fans voted him in at corner-back in this dream team. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

ALL last week in the Echo, our hurling expert John Horgan reflected on the best hurlers to have worn the red of Cork since 1970 and compiled his All-Star 15. 

A tricky task and even in compiling a long-list, the likes of Shane O'Neill, Sean McCarthy, Tom Kenny, Barry Egan and Pat Mulcahy shouldn't have been excluded. No deliberate slights as they're all cracking hurlers. There's no exact science to any 'best of' though, it's a subjective excercise. 

We asked our readers and the Cork hurling faithful to submit their dream team as well and in doing so, there were four alternatives to John Horgan's side. Out went Martin O'Doherty, Denis Coughlan, Willie Walsh and Charlie McCarthy; in came Wayne Sherlock, Seán Óg Ó hAilpín, Tony O'Sullivan and Joe Deane.

Tony O'Sullivan in action for the Cork hurlers in the rain in 1985. Picture: INPHO
Tony O'Sullivan in action for the Cork hurlers in the rain in 1985. Picture: INPHO

The tightest call in the fans' selection was between Ger Cunningham and Donal Óg Cusack, no surprise when they'd 30 seasons of standing between the posts between them! Cunningham pipped his replacement by a nose.

Some of the supporters in Cusack's corner emailed to argue his case.

"Donal Óg Cusack is my choice, because as well as stopping the sliotar he also managed to 'kill and control' it and place it perfectly when he cleared it," wrote Pádraig Ó Dubhgáin.

Diarmuid Costine, Cloyne, explained: "Has to be Donal Óg for me. The way he changed the whole restart of the game acting like a quarterback of the game and overall passion as a leader of men."

Interestingly, Owen O'Sullivan opted for the current Cork number one. "Toss up between Nash and Cunningham. Anthony Nash is a brilliant shot-stopper and had a bullet of a penalty. Cunningham close second."

Ultimately ,Cunningham's presence and monster puck-outs made him a worthy choice.

The core of the team were automatics. Diarmuid O'Sullivan, John Horgan, Tom Cashman, Brian Corcoran, Seán Óg Ó hAilpín, John Fenton, Ben O'Connor, Jimmy Barry-Murphy and Ray Cummins got in comfortably.

Seán Óg, with support from Ronan Curran, takes on Galway's Andy Smyth. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Seán Óg, with support from Ronan Curran, takes on Galway's Andy Smyth. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Indeed JBM and Corcoran were in every team sent through, with Fenton and Cummins in the majority of them as well. 

Gerald McCarthy was voted in to partner Fenton, in recognition of his breathtaking career from 1966 to 1978 for Cork and his storied exploits with the Barrs. A mix of steel and skill was how he was described aptly. Jerry O'Connor and Teddy McCarthy had their backers too though.

The right corner-back slot was really up for grabs, eventually going to Wayne Sherlock, by a small margin ahead of Nemo's Brian Murphy, a dual All-Ireland winner, who later settled in Kilkenny. The other Brian Murphy, from Bride Rovers, and Midleton's Denis Mulcahy had support too.

Ronan Curran, Denis Coughlan and Dermot MacCurtain garnered votes, but Cashman-Corcoran-Seán Óg was an irresistible triumvirate. 

Brian Corcoran keeps his eyes firmly on the sliotar. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Brian Corcoran keeps his eyes firmly on the sliotar. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

In attack, unlike defence where if it wasn't for Corcoran, Curran would surely have been centre-back, there wasn't a clear-cut number 11. 

Gerald, Fergal McCormack, Timmy Crowley and Niall McCarthy all operated at centre-forward in All-Ireland victories, but most fans here swapped in more wristy attackers to accommodate them.

Patrick Horgan lands a score. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Patrick Horgan lands a score. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Current captain Patrick Horgan wasn't unanimous but was the fourth most popular after JBM, Cummins and Ben, so that left four into two: Tony O'Sullivan or Tomás Mulcahy (former Harty Cup winners side by side with the North Mon) in the half-forwards, Charlie McCarthy or Joe Deane up top.

Tony Sull held off Mul, while Deano came in ahead of Charlie Mac, who like his Barrs comrade Gerald, amassed five senior All-Irelands and nine Munsters from 1966 to retirement.

The five with the most votes outside the first 15 were: Donal Óg, Brian Murphy (Nemo), Curran, Tomás Mul and Charlie McCarthy.

CORK FANS' HURLING DREAM TEAM: 

Ger Cunningham (St Finbarr's); 

Wayne Sherlock (Blackrock), Diarmuid O'Sullivan (Cloyne), John Horgan (Blackrock);

Tom Cashman (Blackrock), Brian Corcoran (Erin's Own), Seán Óg Ó hAilpín (Piarsaigh); 

John Fenton (Midleton), Gerald McCarthy (St Finbarr's); 

Tony O'Sullivan (Piarsaigh), Jimmy Barry-Murphy (St Finbarr's), Ben O'Connor (Newtown); 

Patrick Horgan (Glen Rovers), Ray Cummins (Blackrock), Joe Deane (Killeagh).

Joe Deane scores a free. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Joe Deane scores a free. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

A number of supporters send through their complete line-ups so we've included a sample of those.

Seán Quinlan went for: 

Donal Óg; O'Sullivan; Con Roche, John Horgan; Seán Óg, Tom Cashman, Corcoran; Fenton, Gerald McCarthy; Ben, Timmy Crowley, JBM; Charlie McCarthy, Cummins, Horgan.

Brian Cotter's 15:

Cunningham; Denis Mulcahy, O'Sullivan, John Horgan; Dermot MacCurtain, Corcoran, Seán Óg; Fenton, Tom Cashman, Ben, Tomás Mulcahy, JBM; Deane, Cummins, Seanie O'Leary.

Tomás Mulcahy on the move. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE
Tomás Mulcahy on the move. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

Sean White's selection: 

Donal Óg; Corcoran, O'Sullivan, John Horgan; Tom Cashman, Pat Hartnett, Seán Óg; Fenton, Jerry O'Connor; Ben, Gerald McCarthy, JBM, Horgan, Cummins, Charlie McCarthy.

Patrick Murphy's team: 

Cunningham; Brian Murphy (Bride), O’Sullivan, John Horgan; Tom Cashman, Corcoran, Seán Óg; Fenton, Jerry O’Connor; Tony O’Sullivan, Tomás Mulcahy, JBM; Horgan, Cummins, Deane.

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