The Tony Considine column: I always loved to watch dual players at top level

The Tony Considine column: I always loved to watch dual players at top level
Kerry's Pat Spillane is tackled by Cork's Denis Walsh, who won Munster senior medals in both codes in 1990. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

I WAS discussing training methods with a great player of yesteryear, and we were comparing present day methods with those of the past.

This man was a former dual player having won All-Irelands in both codes. He was amazed at the level of fitness required now, and my question to him was this.

“Would he be able to endure the present day type of training?”

I think his comment back to me summed it all up. He said he would either do the warm up, or play the match, but not both, as he reckoned he would not be able for it.

That’s how big a difference the fitness regimes are nowadays. There were great dual players in many counties.

Some were better known as hurlers, and outstanding hurlers, but they also loved playing football.

Hurling being their number one game. I’m thinking here of players like, Des Foley of Dublin, a great footballer, but also a very talented hurler, and his brother Lar as well.

Des played both games on the same day when the Railway Cup competition was at its highest and played in Croke Park in front of big attendances. He played midfield in both the hurling and football games, one at 2pm and the other at 3.30pm.

A mammoth task, but he was well up for it, and actually starred in both. This was in the 1960s.

Other dual players that I remember include Babs Keating of Tipperary. Babs was a tremendous hurler with that great team of the ’60s, and he was equally as good at football.

He also played with Munster in the Railway Cup competitions in both codes.

That was some achievement for the mighty Babs, as you would expect he would be an automatic on the hurling team but he had to earn his place to get on the football team, as there were a lot of great football players with Munster, at the time, from Cork, but especially from Kerry.

Cork goalkeeper Donal Og Cusack calls for the referee's attention watched by Tipperary manager Michael 'Babs' Keating, who was a dual player for the his county. Picture: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE
Cork goalkeeper Donal Og Cusack calls for the referee's attention watched by Tipperary manager Michael 'Babs' Keating, who was a dual player for the his county. Picture: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

Eamon Creegan was another dual player that I remember, who was equally adept at both codes, as he represented his county, Limerick, in both Hurling and Football.

Also Stephen Lucey of recent years from the same county, and outstanding in both codes.

Wexford have produced some great dual players as well, namely the Rackard brothers.

I do not remember them playing but listening to others who did see them on the pitch, they were wonderful athletes, who enjoyed both codes and made a major contribution to Wexford.

Offaly another county to produce a lot of dual players, most famous being Liam Currans, who also won hurling and football All-Irelands in different years — a wonderful achievement for a small county.

The county to produce the greatest amount of dual players is Cork.

One of their most famous sons was also a great dual player — Jack Lynch — I did not see him play but his record speaks for itself, as he won six All-Irelands in a row — four in a row hurling, 1941 to 1944, then he won a football in 1945, and another hurling 1946.

I don’t think that will ever be equalled.

No wonder he became Taoiseach.

One of the greatest heroes Cork ever produced.

My memory of dual players comes from the 1970s — Brian Murphy of Nemo — another great defender in both codes and winning All-Irelands in both.

Denis Coughlan — a superb player and outstanding athlete, hurling and football, but above all a great sportsman — a great servant of Cork, and another All-Ireland winner in both codes.

Another Cork great who made his name as a footballer first was Jimmy Barry-Murphy. Who will ever forget his display in the 1973 football final against Galway when he scored two great goals?

Cork dual icon Jimmy Barry-Murphy scores against Galway in the 1973 final. Picture: Irish Examiner Archive
Cork dual icon Jimmy Barry-Murphy scores against Galway in the 1973 final. Picture: Irish Examiner Archive

He became the darling of the Cork supporters with his skin tight haircut and his Ronaldo like skills with the football.

He became a great hurler afterwards and scored some very important goals in that grade too — but I have to mention, a gentleman both on and off the field and a credit to his county.

One of the players I admired most in my time was the brilliant Ray Cummins.

He had it all — skill, intelligence and always aware of what was going on around him.

He also started off with the Cork footballers. He won All-Irelands in both codes, and I believe he has a unique record of winning All Stars in hurling and football in the same year, 1971.

Ray gave a new dimension to forward play in both codes, and I definitely would have Ray Cummins on any team as he was always first and foremost a team player, and his records prove that.

Other great dual players in recent years for Cork, Brian Corcoran, what a player!

Brian was equally talented at both codes, an outstanding hurler who could play in any position, winning All-Irelands as a defender and also as a forward. Unfortunately he didn’t win the big prize in football, even though he was excellent at it too.

Denis Walsh, another outstanding hurler and footballer for Cork in the 1980s and ’90s. A great defender in both codes, and was a member of the hurling team in 1990 and was on the training panel of the football team the same year, when Cork had success in both codes — unfortunately he did not receive a football medal, I don’t know why, but he deserved one.

He went on to manage the Cork hurlers later.

Another one of life’s gentlemen.

But the man with the greatest record of them all has to be the great Teddy McCarthy.

Teddy the only man to win both All-Ireland senior medals in the same year.

He played a leading role in both victories — a tremendous player - that is some record to have and I don’t think it will ever be equalled, let alone broken.

If it is to happen, it will surely be by a Cork man, because after all Cork is greatest dual county in the country and has the greatest amount of dual players.

But are dual players going to be a thing of the past with all the commitment required now?

Who knows? Time will tell, but they will certainly be fewer and fewer of them.

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