Teams of the decade: Thankless task in picking the top Cork club footballers

Teams of the decade: Thankless task in picking the top Cork club footballers
Castlehaven's Brian Hurley with Aidan O'Reilly of Nemo Rangers. Both feature in Mark Woods' ideal 15. Picture: INPHO/Ken Sutton

FIRSTLY, I’m going to rattle off a number of names who didn’t make the 15. Please accept my sincere apologies and understand there’s nothing personal in any of this, what would you call it, idle fidgeting over the festivities, perhaps.

And it also has nothing to do with some of you, maybe, and it’s only a maybe, who declined to utter a few words of wisdom over the years, because, as we all know by now, everyone wants to be interviewed by the Echo!

What it does reflect, on a more serious note, is the high degree of difficulty in paring down players from the dominant clubs, Nemo Rangers, Castlehaven and St Finbarr’s, and that’s just three, into one team.

Add in first-time winners, Ballincollig and Carbery Rangers, and UCC, champions in 2011, as well as three-time losing finalists, Duhallow, and a picture is beginning to emerge of the impossible nature of the exercise.

So, in no particular order, the likes of Nemo’s Derek Kavanagh, David Niblock, Peter Morgan, Colin O’Brien and Barry O’Driscoll, didn’t squeeze in and neither did Duhallow’s Donncha O’Connor or Aidan Walsh, Ballincollig’s Cian Dorgan, nor John O’Rourke from Carbery Rangers either. And that’s only the beginning.

The team has to reflect that Nemo were champions four times in the period, appeared in a fifth final and two more replays.

And it’s the same for the Haven, who were back-to-back champions in 2012-13, lost two more deciders and played in one replay, as well.

The Barrs appeared in four finals, including a replay. In goal, I’ve opted for Micheál Aodh Martin (Nemo Rangers) because he is growing in stature as a keeper and his best years could be still to come.

Defenders, indeed all players nowadays, have to be flexible and versatile enough to be able to cope with all requirements. I’ve gone with Ballincollig’s Liam Jennings and Nemo’s Aidan O’Reilly in the full-back line.

Damien Cahalane (Castlehaven) is the full-back. He has the physical presence, speed and skills to take on any kind of opponent.

There are a couple of Barr’s players in the half-back line, Colin Lyons on the right and Michael Shields at six with John Miskella (Ballincollig) completing the line. Miskella won a county as a roaming forward, but excelled anytime he was in the half-back line, where he lifted the All-Ireland with Cork.

It’s finely balanced, a nice blend of attack-minded and defence orientated players. James Fitzpatrick (Carbery Rangers) and Ian Maguire (St Finbarr’s) have bounced off each other so many times in great tussles at midfield that they would take some holding as a combination.

Now, for the forwards and what a nightmare this proved to be. I’m a huge admirer of ‘Tucker’ O’Brien’s role for Nemo, collecting second pickings around the middle and linking the play sensibly without fuss.

But, such was the competitive nature of the attack that it had to include six recognised finishers and accordingly the half-forward line is Luke Connolly and Paul Kerrigan from Nemo and Pa Kelly (Ballincollig), who just had to be selected.

John Hayes (Carbery Rangers) also meets the criteria for automatic inclusion and he wears 14, flanked by the Haven pair of Brian Hurley and Mark Collins.

Donncha O’Connor’s absence is the obvious glaring omission and he could slot in to any of the forward positions without weakening the side. Indeed, he’d embellish it, no doubt about that.

It’s just more evidence of how impossible these tasks are and you could go again with another 15, which would give the selected side a run for their money.

Nemo have four representatives, Castlehaven, the Barr’s and Ballincollig have three apiece and Carbery Rangers have two.

NB: All complaints must come with a crisp, non-refundable, €50 note.

CORK SENIOR CLUB FOOTBALL: MA Martin (Nemo Rangers); L Jennings (Ballincollig), D Cahalane (Castlehaven), A O'Reilly (Nemo Rangers); C Lyons (St Finbarr's), M Shields (do), J Miskella (Ballincollig); J Fitzpatrick (Carbery Rangers), I Maguire (St Finbarr's); L Connolly (Nemo Rangers), P Kerrigan (do), P Kelly (Ballincollig); B Hurley (Castlehaven), J Hayes (Carbery Rangers), M Collins (Castlehaven).

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