Tomás or Moynihan, Gooch or Mikey

AS PART of its celebration of 125 years of the GAA, the Munster Council in partnership with the Irish Examiner are selecting the best 15 players in hurling and football over the last 25 years.

This is a repeat of the very successful partnership in 2000. When we selected the Munster Team of the Millennium in Hurling and Football, readers of ‘De Paper’ had a chance to enter and qualify for some attractive prizes. The response then was considerable and in the case of the hurling selection, phenomenal. I understand the public are engaging again in huge numbers this time around.

There are a few points that I want to explore in this whole exercise. Firstly as it is the best team selected over the last 25 years, that should exclude 1984, the centenary of the GAA as 1985-2009 is 25 years. A player’s contribution from 1985 onwards should only be considered. I feel this may not get the weight it deserves. Some players nominated were the greatest names in the game but their reputations were well and truly made by 1985.

Post 1984, their careers were in decline but will this be reflected in the final selection? Not easy to do and for that reason, I doubt it. For instance, the only four players in history to have eight All-Ireland medals in football are Paidí O Sé, Ogie Moran, Ger Power and Mikey Sheehy, and they’ve all been nominated. But in each case six of their eight medals were won between 1975 and 1984.

Did they do enough in the twilight of their careers to be considered Munster’s best over the last 25 years? That’s what selections like this are all about? Debate and opinion. Everyone’s view is as valuable as the next. Still it’s a nice topic for a bar stool discussion.

I would also have preferred if the football committee had nominated more than three players from the counties of Clare, Tipp, Limerick and Waterford. In recent years these counties have produced some great players and fine teams. Clare won a Munster title in 1992, Tipp and Limerick were desperately unlucky not to win at least one Munster senior title each. Waterford, like Limerick, won an U21 Munster football title. Yet out of 45 players nominated, only three come from the four weaker counties. Not good enough.

The selection committee should have thrown more names into the pot – say at least four for each position and also they shouldn’t have pre-ordained what position each player could qualify for. For instance, Paidí O Sé, is nominated at corner back. He played his best football at wing back. Ger Power is nominated at top of the left but he made his name as a flying wing forward; similarly Declan Browne is selected at left half forward when, for most of his career, he was the best corner forward in the country – an automatic on the team for me. The other players who are automatics are Seamus Moynihan, the best player in Ireland over the last 25 years, and Maurice Fitzgerald, a joy to watch and Larry Tompkins, truly the master of the 40.

Now, of course, we shouldn’t get too animated about these selections. Still they jog the memory and for those who eventually make the final 15, it will be a significant honour for themselves and their families. Now, here is the team that I will be nominating as Munster’s best between 1984-2008 and submitting to the Irish Examiner.

John Kerins, Marc O Sé, Colman Corrigan, Niall Cahalane, Seamus Moynihan, Graham Canty, Stephen O’Brien, Darragh O Sé, John Galvin, Declan O’Sullivan, Larry Tompkins, Declan Browne, Colm Cooper, Eoin Liston, Maurice Fitzgerald.

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