Tom Kenny never got the All-Star he deserved but makes this Cork hurling dream team

Tom Kenny never got the All-Star he deserved but makes this Cork hurling dream team
Tom Kenny strikes home his goal against Wexford in 2004. Somehow the Grenagh man never picked up an All-Star. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

THIS week in The Echo, John Horgan assessed the best Cork hurlers since 1970.

Fifty years of hurling history, taking in the three-in-a-row team of the ’70s and the crew that landed three All-Irelands from 1999 to 2005, there was no shortage of options.

John Horgan put his head above the parapet and revealed his dream team.

I haven’t been quite as brave. While my 40s are looming, I wouldn’t be able to give the players of 1970s and bulk of the ’80s a fair crack.

From the modern era, you’re looking at the 2004-05 All-Ireland winners, with Shane O’Neill in the mix for defence and Patrick Horgan and Seamus Harnedy contenders up front.

So instead, I called in someone with a deeper hurling knowledge — my grandfather Eddie Hogan. Turning 96 in August but thankfully as sharp and lucid as ever when it comes to the small-ball game, he came up with a more balanced selection.

We started with the automatics, and in Eddie’s view, they were Brian Corcoran, Jimmy Barry-Murphy, Gerald McCarthy, Ray Cummins, and Patrick Horgan.

Patrick Horgan somehow avoiding a hook to score a late point in the 2013 final. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Patrick Horgan somehow avoiding a hook to score a late point in the 2013 final. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

“They’d be players who you’d have on any list of the best 10 hurlers to ever play for Cork,” he explained.

Horgan is an interesting pick in that regard, given he’s the only one in that exalted company without an All-Ireland, at minor, U21, or senior.

“He’s a brilliant forward. Deadly. His wrists and his free-taking are as good as anyone to ever play for Cork.”

We can’t really argue with that, considering Eddie was cycling to Munster finals during the Second World War to watch Christy Ring, Jack Lynch and co reign supreme.

After slotting in the first five, it got tough. He decided to pick on the basis of the players’ primary positions for Cork.

Jimmy Barry-Murphy in action for the Cork hurlers in 1984. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE
Jimmy Barry-Murphy in action for the Cork hurlers in 1984. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

That meant Tony O’Sullivan was narrowly squeezed out in the half-forwards, with JBM and Ben O’Connor being wing men, and Tim Crowley the traditional brawny number 11. Similarly, Diarmuid O’Sullivan is full-back, just ahead of Martin O’Doherty from the ’70s, neither being corner-backs.

Goalkeeper was a tricky one: Donal Óg Cusack or Ger Cunningham. On the basis of his revolutionary puck-outs and leadership, even when it came to making tough decisions like going against the county board, Eddie opted for Cusack.

“He stood up for what he felt was right. I loved that about Donal Óg. Both were outstanding keepers though.” 

With Corcoran at six, Ronan Curran couldn’t be accommodated and, interestingly, Eddie went with Nemo dual corner-back Brian Murphy and Bishopstown’s Johnny Crowley on one flank, with the more traditional John Horgan and Denis Coughlan duo on the left.

Brilliant former Cork hurling half-backs Dermot McCurtain, Johnny Crowley, and Tom Cashman. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE
Brilliant former Cork hurling half-backs Dermot McCurtain, Johnny Crowley, and Tom Cashman. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

Tom Kenny got the nod over John Fenton, Teddy McCarty, and Jerry O’Connor to partner Gerald McCarthy in midfield.

“Tom had some engine, very consistent. I can’t understand how he never got an All-Star.”

Tom Kenny celebrates at Croke Park. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Tom Kenny celebrates at Croke Park. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

With Crowley muscling out Niall McCarthy and Fergal McCormack at centre-forward, the last position in attack was between Joe Deane, Seanie O’Leary, John Fitzgibbon, Tomás Mulcahy, and Charlie McCarthy.

“All brilliant forwards, but there was something special about Joe.”


Eddie’s Cork Selection:
Donal Óg Cusack; Brian Murphy (Nemo), Diarmuid O’Sullivan, John Horgan; Johnny Crowley, Brian Corcoran, Denis Coughlan; Tom Kenny, Gerald McCarthy; Jimmy Barry-Murphy, Tim Crowley, Ben O’Connor; Patrick Horgan, Ray Cummins, Joe Deane.

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