Honouring Munster’s stars of the past 25 years

THE Irish Examiner teamed up with the Munster Council in Limerick on Saturday to honour the best footballers and hurlers from the province over the past 25 years.

It is a wonderful achievement and a great honour to be selected on one of those teams when one considers all the men who have played both gaelic codes at intercounty level over the past quarter of a century.

There was good balance in the hurling team with six players selected from Cork, three from Tipperary (all three forwards), three from Clare (all three backs), two from Limerick and one from Waterford.

Two sets of brothers made the team, Frank and Brian Lohan and Ben and Jerry O’Connor and well deserved by all four. It’s nice to see a player like Stephen McDonagh of Limerick being honoured as well – we gave Stephen a GAA President’s Award for his unselfish and massive contribution to Limerick over many years. He and Gary Kirby were constant stars for Limerick and despite not winning an All-Ireland, their talents are well remembered and cherished.

Waterford might feel somewhat peeved with only one player selected – the peerless and ageless Tony Browne. But John Mullane and Ken McGrath must have been very close – they might even make the next one in 25 years time!

Of course a similar case could be made for many more such as Brian Corcoran, Ciarán Carey and Joe Deane. But you can only select 15.

If there was good balance in the hurling I was a bit disappointed that the football team is made up entirely of players from Cork & Kerry. I would have thought that Tipperary’s Declan Browne would have been automatic. It’s much easier to shine with a team that is playing in the higher echelons and contesting All-Ireland finals regularly. For a player to shine consistently day in day out with a team in a lower strata takes real class and quality.

Browne won All Stars and was selected to play for Ireland. He deserved to be included as a recognition of his own prowess but also as recognition for the contribution of the ‘other’ four football counties in Munster. John Galvin must have been might close too. Apart from that it is hard to argued with those selected – indeed they are all luminaries and their deeds will shine for generations to come.

MUNSTER HURLING TEAM: Ger Cunningham (Cork); Stephen McDonagh (Limerick), Brian Lohan (Clare), Frank Lohan (Clare); Tony Browne (Waterford), Sean McMahon (Clare), Sean Óg O hAilpín (Cork); John Fenton (Cork), Jerry O’Connor (Cork); Ben O’Connor (Cork), Gary Kirby (Limerick), John Leahy (Tipperary); Eoin Kelly (Tipperary), Jimmy Barry Murphy (Cork), Nicky English (Tipperary)

MUNSTER FOOTBALL TEAM: John Kerins (Cork); Marc O Sé (Kerry), Sean Walsh (Kerry), Niall Cahalane (Cork); Seamus Moynihan (Kerry), Conor Counihan (Cork), Stephen O’Brien (Cork); Jack O’Shea (Kerry), Darragh O Sé (Kerry); Declan O’Sullivan (Kerry), Larry Tompkins (Cork), Pat Spillane (Kerry); Colm Cooper (Kerry), Eoin Liston (Kerry), Maurice Fitzgerald (Kerry).