DJ tops the poll in hurling legends selection

DJ CAREY, Henry Shefflin, Brian Lohan and Seán Óg Ó hAilpín are the most popular hurlers of the last decade, not just with fans across Ireland but, it would appear, among aficionados around the world.

The four received the biggest number of votes (featuring in over 60% of team selections) in the public ballot to select the ‘Guinness Legends’ team formally announced last night in Dublin.

With Shefflin the only other Kilkenny player chosen, DJ appeared in 80% of teams and received in excess of 4,000 more votes than any other player in the full-forward line.

Shefflin was named in the half-forwards of 79% of the teams submitted - gaining 5,000 votes more than James O’Connor and John Leahy, both of whom retired in the last two years. Brian Lohan was another popular choice, receiving 3,000 votes more than any other player in the full-back line and appearing in 65% of all selections.

Ó hAilpín was not far behind Lohan in the voting. Chosen in 59.8% of team selections, he gained 1,300 more votes than Brian Whelahan, the only modern player to be chosen in the GAA’s ‘Team of the Millennium.’

The competition to select the best team over the period of Guinness’ sponsorship of the championship (from 1995) attracted interest not only among followers in the so-called traditional hurling strongholds, but in all 32 counties.

More intriguingly, almost a twentieth of the (13,000 plus) votes came from overseas - from countries as diverse as Norway, Singapore, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and the US.

The goalkeeping position and the three half-forward places were the most keenly contested, with a difference of just 300 votes between Brendan Cummins and Damien Fitzhenry, and less than a hundred votes separating some of the other players. It meant that Wexford’s Fitzhenry and Martin Storey both lost out, along with Waterford stars Ken McGrath and Paul Flynn.

In contrast, the midfield formation of Colin Lynch and Thomas Dunne was virtually assured from week one.

Brian Lohan was accorded a similar status, but there was a battle for the other two positions until the progress of Cork and Galway benefited Diarmuid O’Sullivan and Ollie Canning.

While Brian Whelahan gained most support initially at half-back, Ó hAilpín overtook him and Sean McMahon just edged out and JJ Delaney for the third position.

In the half-forward line, there was little dividing Jamesie O’Connor, John Leahy, Martin Storey, Ken McGrath and Joe Cooney. It was so tight that Storey was 100 votes short of making the team at Leahy’s expense.

DJ’s selection was almost automatic, while Joe Deane and Eoin Kelly gained strong leads midway through the voting which they were never to lose.

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