Cork hurling dream team 1970-2020: Rebel forwards have a special swagger

Cork hurling dream team 1970-2020: Rebel forwards have a special swagger
Timmy McCarthy races at the Clare defence in the 1999 Munster final. Picture: Kieran Clancy.

WHEN you are trying to come up with the best six forwards to have worn the Cork jersey since 1970 you are considering players that were part of 10 All-Ireland winning teams, making the task a gargantuan one.

All week we're going through the best from the past 50 years, section by section, before revealing an All-Star line-up on Friday.

For the record, the starting six in the ’70 final win over Wexford was Charlie Cullinane, Willie Walsh, Tomás Ryan, Ray Cummins, Charlie McCarthy and the hat-trick goal hero that day, Eddie O’Brien.

For that never to be forgotten individual display he has to make the list of contenders as, of course, do Ray Cummins, Charlie McCarthy (below) and Willie Walsh.

Next came the three-in-a-row side of ’76, ’77 and ’78 and on those teams, you had some of the greatest players ever to don the red jersey.

Ray Cummins was still lording it over opposing full-backs, Charlie remained hugely influential, Jimmy Barry-Murphy was proving himself as one of the great dual players after the footballers’ success of 1973.

Seanie O'Leary and JBM in 1984. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE
Seanie O'Leary and JBM in 1984. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

Gerald McCarthy, 10 years after captaining the men of ’66, originally a midfielder, still had that cutting edge that made him an icon of the game when switched up front.

Timmy Crowley was one of those players that every team has to have in the ranks, a fearless operator, who could fit in anywhere from midfield onwards.

Mick Malone too, one of those old-fashioned players, never gave less than 100 percent, a huge handful for any defender.

Pat Moylan was another great hurler, scorer of some real gems, he was a great man from the placed ball too and a very stylish operator.

Cork's Pat Moylan scoring a vital goal in the final minute against Galway in the 1980 league. Picture: Danis Minihane
Cork's Pat Moylan scoring a vital goal in the final minute against Galway in the 1980 league. Picture: Danis Minihane

The year of ’84 was particularly satisfying because it was centenary year and around that time you had some real, top-class operators up front.

The team that day in Thurles had Tony O’Sullivan, Tomás Mulcahy, Timmy Crowley, Kevin Hennessy, Jimmy Barry-Murphy and Seanie O’Leary.

All of them would have to be included in the list of top contenders and choosing one over the other is similar to choosing one son over another.

The win of 1986 was another milestone to add to all the rest and Ger Fitzgerald came on to that side as did Teddy McCarthy while John Fitzgibbon also featured that year.

Cork captain Tomás Mulcahy bursts away from Tony Keady, Galway, in the 1990 All-Ireland final at Croke Park. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE
Cork captain Tomás Mulcahy bursts away from Tony Keady, Galway, in the 1990 All-Ireland final at Croke Park. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

In 1990 you had Mark Foley’s tremendous contribution in the Munster final of that year and his goal and a point in the All-Ireland final were big scores too when they were needed.

John Fitzgibbon scored two goals that day, Tomás Mulcahy was an outstanding captain, all taking their place in the list of great forwards who contributed to the Cork cause.

There were other very good Cork forwards who may not have had the success that some of their colleagues had and these include Eamon O’Donoghue, Ger Manley, Brendan Cummins and Pat Horgan from the Glen, not the current one, we’ll come to him later.

The 1999 team had some outstanding performers too, the Newtown flier Ben O’Connor, Seanie McGrath, Joe Deane, Alan Browne, Neil Ronan and Kevin Murray.

Joe Deane fires over a free on his way to 0-8 against Tipp in the 2006 Munster final at Semple Stadium. Picture: Larry Cummins
Joe Deane fires over a free on his way to 0-8 against Tipp in the 2006 Munster final at Semple Stadium. Picture: Larry Cummins

Then you had two really great unsung heroes, Timmy McCarthy and Fergal McCormack, players whose often unseen work was a major contributory that year and maybe it’s only now we realise how large that contribution was.

The 2004 and 2005 All-Ireland winning teams had the great Brian Corcoran featuring up front and he was a revelation there, as much so as he had previously been in defence.

You had Setanta Ó hAilpín in 2003 and he could have been of the greats if the Aussies hadn’t come calling in another code.

Setanta in 2003. Picture: Dan Linehan
Setanta in 2003. Picture: Dan Linehan

Niall McCarthy’s forceful presence was a key factor in those years while you had Fraggie Murphy making a big contribution too.

To the more recent past and current present, Patrick Horgan from the Glen would have starred in any team. Imagine if he had someone like Ray Cummins alongside him, feeding off him.

Seamus Harnedy too has to be in the long list, Alan Cadogan for sure, along with the likes of Stephen Moylan, Pa Cronin, Conor Lehane, Cian McCarthy, Luke O’Farrell.

Seamus Harnedy.
Seamus Harnedy.

There may be others too who we have omitted. It would be a task beyond every Cork hurling follower to find the perfect six because the list of great forwards down the years is near endless.

We have chosen this list from which we’ll try to pick six: 

Timmy Crowley, Tony O’Sullivan, Teddy McCarthy, Charlie McCarthy, Gerald McCarthy, Kevin Hennessy, Tomás Mulcahy, Joe Deane, Seanie McGrath, Ben O’Connor, Fergal McCormack, Timmy McCarthy, John Fitzgibbon, Eddie O’Brien, Seanie O’Leary, Niall McCarthy, Willie Walsh, Alan Browne, Jimmy Barry-Murphy, Brian Corcoran, Patrick Horgan, Ray Cummins, Mark Foley, Ger Fitzgerald, Mick Malone.

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