WHEN you are selecting the best midfield hurlers to have worn the Cork jersey over the past 50 years you are going to be including players who have played in defence and in attack too.
In the past, if a player was selected in a certain position the chances are that he might end the game in the same position.
But that’s all changed now, there is what you might describe as chopping and changing going on right throughout the game, a player starting in the middle of the field but ending up at wing-back or wing-forward.
However, down the through the corridors of time, Cork hurling has been blessed with some outstanding midfield generals, players who were the gateway to the inside forwards setting up and executing big scores.
So here goes, this is a list that we have come up with, players worthy of wearing the number eight and nine red jerseys.
We’ll start with Justin McCarthy, one of the game’s great artists. He was a star in ’66 and was a hugely influential player until a motorbike accident in 1969 curtailed his inter-county career.
He went on to play for years after that but that injury certainly had a big bearing on his career.
But nothing should take away from the great hurler that he was.
Gerald McCarthy played in many different positions, in defence, midfield and in attack and was an icon of Cork hurling.
Pat Hartnett played in midfield in ’84, starring in the Munster final of that year and was another of those players who was equally effective at wing-back or outside.
Pat Moylan had a massive game at midfield in the ’76 final, scoring 10 points as Cork’s three-in-a-row began, a hugely influential presence.
Tom Cashman played in midfield too and was as good there as anywhere else. Pat Ryan from Sars was another very effective midfield player while John Gardiner had a spell there too.
Going back a bit further, Jim Cashman played there in ’86 while of more recent vintage you had Lorcan McLoughlin’s honesty in the midfield area.
Bill Cooper’s industry has been a big factor in many a game and it is his best position even if he has lined out at centre-back this year.
Mark Landers and Mickey O’Connell would have to be included too when you are talking about players who contributed generously in the position during their stint in the red jersey.
Alongside him you had another great player, Tom Kenny, there was quality written all over him for many years.
John Gardiner wouldn’t be unfamiliar with a midfield slot either while you would have to include Danny Kearney.
One of the real workaholics on the team, he never gave less than 100% and his retirement from inter-county hurling earlier in the year was far too premature. Going back to the ‘70s and the All-Ireland victory of 1970, you had Seamus Looney proving what a really good hurler he was.
Now we move on to one of the great Cork midfielders, a natural in the position, John Fenton from Midleton.
A real classy hurler of his generation he has to be very near the top of the list, remember his wonder goal all those years ago against Limerick, probably the greatest true hurling goal of all time.
To another, great player, Teddy McCarthy who burst on to the scene in ’86 and had so many great days in the midfield sector, one of the players whose aerial ability was second to none as some pictures from his career testify.
Going back further again, Denis Coughlan was equally strong at midfield as he was elsewhere, a true hurler in every sense of the word.
Timmy Crowley from Newcestown had a spell too in the area back in the ‘70s and his cutting edge was always a factor. Tony O’Sullivan too would have to make the list of contenders, another hurling artist.
So, try to come up with what might be considered the best two midfielders from that stellar list of names, simply impossible but we’ll have a cut later in the week.
The list of midfielders that we have come up with to be considered for selection are:
Pat Hartnett, Gerald McCarthy, Pat Moylan, Tom Cashman, Justin McCarthy, John Fenton, John Gardiner, Pat Ryan, Jerry O’Connor, Daniel Kearney, Bill Cooper, Mark Landers, Mickey O’Connell, Jim Cashman, Denis Coughlan, Seamus Looney, Timmy Crowley, Teddy McCarthy, Lorcán McLoughlin, Tony O’Sullivan.
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