Wednesday 22 October 2014

The 125 greatest stars of the GAA: 26-50

Published 06/11/2009 | 05:00

Maurice Fitzgerald and Eamonn Cregan both feature in our search for the top footballers and hurlers of the past 125 years.

50 martin Furlong (Offaly) Along with Billy Morgan, he is the only goalkeeper to win the coveted Texaco 'Footballer of the Year' award, which underlines his greatness in the position. Played from 1965 to '83, covering Offaly's headline successes.

49 Graham Geraghty (Meath) One of a small group of players to win All Stars in defence and attack, Geraghty has been one of the most natural footballers of the modern era. Sometimes made the game look so easy.

48 Eugene McKenna (Tyrone) An unsung hero in leaner times for Tyrone football, McKenna is considered one of the best footballers never to win an All-Ireland medal. Won All Stars on three different lines of the field in 1984, '86 and '89.

47 Stephen White (Louth) The iconic figure of Louth's 1957 All-Ireland winning effort, White was considered good enough to make the Team of the century in 1984. Won four Railway Cup medals between 1952 and '55.

46 Paddy Kennedy (Kerry) Before Mick O'Connell, Kennedy was considered the supreme Kerry midfielder, winning four All-Ireland medals, including three in succession from 1939 to '41.

45 Ger Power (Kerry) One of the quintet to win eight All-Ireland medals, Power was a wonderful athlete, highly versatile in that he won All Stars as a half-back, half-forward and corner- forward.

44 Tim Kennelly (Kerry) 'Horse' won Man of the match awards in successive All-Ireland finals (1980 and '81) on his way to five All-Ireland medals. As his nickname suggests, strength was a virtue.

43 Sean Cavanagh (Tyrone) In full flight Sean Cavanagh is currently one of the game's most imposing figures and certainly one of the great ball carriers of modern times. Footballer of the Year in 2008, he has four All Stars to add to his three All-Ireland medals.

42 Jim McKeever (Derry) Carried the distinction of being one of the few players to win a Footballer of the year award (1958) without winning an All-Ireland in the same year. The anchor on one of Derry's best ever teams.

41 James McCartan snr (Down) A physically strong footballer renowned for his powerful bursts from centre-forward on the great Down team of the 1960s. Won back-to-back Footballer of the year accolades in 1960 and '61.

40 Sean Walsh (Kerry) Versatility was the key to Walsh, who picked up seven All-Ireland medals, four as Jack O'Shea's midfield partner between 1978 and '81 and another three at full-back (1984-86). Anther hugely physically imposing player.

39 Tomas O Se (Kerry) The second of the O Se brothers is still going strong and this year added a Texaco Sportstar award to his five All Stars, won between 2004 and 2009. One of the game's most accurate passers.

38 Tommy Murphy (Laois) 'The Boy Wonder' made his debut for Laois aged 16 when the county won the first of three successive Leinster championships. A stylish midfielder he was chosen on the Team of the millennium.

37 Jimmy Keaveney (Dublin) To think that Keaveney was all but retired as a Dublin footballer prior to 1974. He went to win two Footballer of the Year awards in 1976 and '77, scoring 2-6 in the '77 All-Ireland final against Armagh.

36 Mick Higgins (Cavan) Winner of seven Ulster championships and three All-Ireland medals with Cavan, New York-born Higgins was considered one of the great centre-forwards. Captained Cavan to their last All-Ireland title in 1952.

35 Joe Keohane (Kerry) Joe Keohane was still a minor when he won the first of his five All-Ireland medals in 1937. In the 'catch-and-kick' era, he was one of the great full- backs, and played in eight All-Ireland finals. Named at full-back on the Team of the millennium.

34 Martin O'Connell (Meath) Holder of three All-Ireland medals, O'Connell was a high-class performer with wonderful fielding ability and anticipation. He was named Footballer of the Year in 1996, eight years after he claimed Man of the match in the All-Ireland final replay against Cork.

33 Maurice Fitzgerald (Kerry) A more graceful presence on a football field there may not have been, Fitzgerald's tour de force was the 1997 All-Ireland final against Mayo when he kicked 10 points. Deceptively strong, his timing coincided with a dip in Kerry football in the early 1990s.

32 Sean Murphy (Kerry) The Team of the Century and Team of the millennium half-back enjoyed the high point of his career in 1959 when fine performances against Dublin and Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final and final saw him named Footballer of the Year.

31 Billy Morgan (Cork) Revolutionised goalkeeping in the 1960s with his use of possession and direction of kick-outs. A man ahead of his time, he was one of only two goalkeepers to win a coveted Footballer of the Year award in 1973 after his only All-Ireland success.

30 Paddy Doherty (Down) Figured on arguably the best half-forward line in gaelic football history (along with Sean O'Neill and James McCartan) Doherty was a supreme scorer, racking up 15-159 in championship games between 1954 and '71. His 1-5 against Kerry in the 1960 All-Ireland final stands out.

29 John O'Leary (Dublin) For consistency and longevity in the position, O'Leary stands the test of time, playing 70 successive championship games between 1980 and 1997. He won his second All-Ireland medal in 1995, conceding just three goals in five championship games that season.

28 John Egan (Kerry) On a team of so much talent, Egan always seemed to shine, his eye for goal setting him apart as one of the game's great predators. Finished with six All-Ireland medals.

27 Mattie McDonagh (Galway) The only Connacht player to win four All-Ireland football medals, he won his first in 1956 as a 19-year-old midfielder. Had a bustling powerful presence that made him one of the Galway three-in-a-row team's most fearsome competitors.

26 Paidi O Se (Kerry) Enjoyed a stellar career at wing-back and later at corner-back on his way to an unsurpassed eight All-Ireland medals. Renowned for his toughness and absolute devotion to Kerry football.

50 Donie Nealon (Tipperary) Five All-Ireland senior medals; six NHL; four Railway Cups with Munster and Hurler of the Year in 1962. That's quite a compliment to his all-round attacking expertise which was decorated with a high-scoring rate.

49 Seanie McMahon (Clare) Did McMahon's courage in playing on despite carrying a serious injury against Cork in the 1995 Munster semi-final change the course of Clare history? It was typical of his defiant nature which he showcased at centre-back in a career which yielded two All-Irelands, three All Stars and a Hurler of the Year in 1995.

48 Tony Doran (Wexford) Won an All-Ireland club medal with Buffers Alley at the age of 42. It was a highpoint finish to his great career, during which he brought a very direct style to full-forward play. Hurler of the Year in 1976, despite being on the losing side in the All-Ireland final.

47 Tom Cheasty (Waterford) Started his career as a 20-year-old who went along to watch a League game only to be drafted onto the team. A Waterford legend who won an All-Ireland medal in 1959, which was the highpoint of a lengthy career.

46 Gerald McCarthy (Cork) Does anybody pull on the ball overhead anymore? It was a McCarthy special in a

a 15-year senior career during which he won five All-Ireland medals at wing-forward, centre-forward and midfield between 1976 and 1978.

45 Phil 'Fan' Larkin (Kilkenny) The middle link in a family dynasty where three generations won All-Ireland senior hurling titles. A corner or full-back, he won five All-Ireland medals between 1963 and 1979.

44 Phil Grimes (Waterford) His senior inter-county career lasted 19 seasons during which he established a huge reputation as a top-class midfielder. A key member of the 1959 All-Ireland winning side.

43 Jimmy Smith (Clare) One of the top forwards who never won an All-Ireland medal, he played for Clare seniors at the age of 18 and continued for 19 years. Munster offered him the best chance to display his great skills, which he did when helping them to six Railway Cup titles.

42 Conor Hayes (Galway) Three All-Ireland medals, two as captain, was his impressive haul in the 1980s. A highly intelligent full-back, he won three successive All Stars in 1986-87-88.

41 Pat Henderson (Kilkenny) The oldest of the three brothers who kept the Henderson name on the Kilkenny teamsheet for 27 years. Centre-back was his specialist position, from where he won four All-Ireland medals and the Hurler of the Year award in 1974.

40 Damien Martin (Offaly) Establishing a big reputation in a county which is not involved on the big days is extremely difficult, but Martin managed that as an outstanding goalkeeper in the 1964-79 period before being a key figure in their big breakthroughs in the early 1980s. He was the first All Star goalkeeper in 1971.

39 Peter Finnerty (Galway) Winner of five All Star awards in six seasons (1985-90), Finnerty's inspirational play at right half-back was central to what was a great period for Galway.

38 Liam Devaney (Tipperary) Won five All-Ireland medals at midfield, wing-forward, centre-forward and full-forward between 1958 and 1965. Hurler of the Year in 1961.

37 Billy Rackard (Wexford) The youngest of three famous hurling brothers, Billy was a dominant centre-back on the teams which won All-Ireland titles in 1955, '56, '60.

36 Ger Cunningham (Cork) Hurler of the Year in 1986, he was a dominant figure on the Cork team that won All-Ireland titles in 1984, '86, and '90. A triple All Star in 1984-86, he won a fourth in 1990.

35 Jackie Power (Limerick) A dual star, but it was as a hurler he made the biggest impact in a 15-year inter-county career, during which he won All-Ireland medals in 1936 and '40. Chosen at left half-back on the Munster Team of the Millennium. His son Ger won eight All-Ireland football medals with Kerry.

34 Jimmy Langton (Kilkenny) Hurled at senior level in three decades, starting in the 1930s. A multi-talented forward, his brilliance was recognised by selection on the Teams of the Century and the Millennium.

33 Denis Coughlan (Cork) A dual star, but it was as a hurler that he achieved most, including winning four All-Ireland medals between 1970 and 1978 and a Hurler of the Year award in 1977.

32 JJ Delaney (Kilkenny) Six All-Ireland senior medals at wing-back and full-back, four All Star awards and a Hurler of the Year award in 2003. And he's still only 27 years old. How much more is there to come?

31 Jimmy Barry-Murphy (Cork) One of the best dual players in GAA history, it was as a hurler that he achieved most, winning five All-Ireland medals and five All Stars between 1976 and 1986. A superb stylist, he was especially effective as a goal scorer.

30 Joe McKenna (Limerick) Played minor hurling with Offaly, but it was Limerick who benefited from his many talents at senior level in a career where he won one All-Ireland medal and six All Stars. A full-forward of immense power and scoring prowess.

29 Paddy Phelan (Kilkenny) Chosen at left half-back on the Teams of the Century and Millennium, he won four All-Ireland medals with Kilkenny between 1932 and 1939.

28 Eamonn Cregan (Limerick) His three All Star awards were won as an attacker, but he also enjoyed a very successful spell at centre-back, during which Limerick won their last All-Ireland title in 1973. Hurled at senior level for 19 years.

27 John Connolly (Galway) Much of his career came before Galway re-joined the elite in the mid '70s but Connolly was always the real deal and played a huge part in the revival. He then proceeded to be a powerful influence as Galway won the All-Ireland title for the first time in 57 years in 1980.

26 Frank Cummins (Kilkenny) A powerful midfielder, his senior career lasted from 1966 to 1984, during which he won eight All-Ireland medals, seven on the starting 15. Hurler of the Year in 1983, he won four All Stars in 1971-72-82-83.

Irish Independent

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