Friday 9 December 2016

And Leinster's pre-Heineken Cup XV

Hugh Farrelly

Published 19/05/2011 | 05:00

15 Hugo MacNeill

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Slick and assured as the last line of defence and a graceful intruder into the backline. Double Triple Crown winner with Ireland and a Lion in 1983.

14 Tony O'Reilly

Arguably the most devastating wide attacker of any era -- ahead of his time in terms of size, pace and eye for opportunity.

13 Brendan Mullin

Before Brian O'Driscoll, Mullin was the footballing genius in the Leinster backline. A class act for Trinity, Oxford, Blackrock, Ireland and the Lions in 1989.

12 Paul Dean

Before he won a Triple Crown at out-half in 1985, Dean had garnered the same distinction in midfield three years before. Not the greatest kicker of the ball Leinster has produced, but a silky runner and wonderful distributor.

11 Tom Grace

The UCD and St Mary's man was a regular for Leinster and Ireland in the 1960s and '70s and was part of the legendary Lions tour to South Africa in 1974. The Shane Horgan of his time.

10 Ollie Campbell

Tony Ward starred for the province in the late 1980s but he is more readily associated with Munster.

Campbell had all the skills and is up with Jackie Kyle, Ronan O'Gara and Ward among Ireland's greatest No 10s.

9 John Robbie

The Trinity and Greystones man was a superbly combative scrum-half who, along with Colin Paterson, holds the distinction of being the last Ireland No 9 to tour with the Lions (to South Africa in 1980).

1 Phil Orr

Untouchable at loose-head, the Old Wesley prop was part of Mick Doyle's all-conquering Leinster side of the early 1980s and a stalwart for Ireland for more than 10 years. Toured New Zealand with the Lions in 1977.

2 John Cantrell

Incredible competition for the hooker slot from Karl Mullen and Ronnie Dawson through to Harry Harbinson and Johnnie 'Spud' Murphy.

However, those who closely followed Leinster rugby 30 years ago claim Blackrock's Cantrell was the best of the lot.

3 Sean Lynch

Pips Des Fitzgerald to the No 3 jersey by one of the Lansdowne prop's whiskers. The St Mary's man brought a huge physical presence to any team he turned out for and won a flotilla of admirers on the 1971 Lions tour to New Zealand.

4 Bill Mulcahy

Not the biggest second-row but incredibly strong. A legend in UCD and Bective Rangers, Mulcahy won 35 caps for Ireland between 1958 and '65 and made two Lions tours.

5 Neil Francis

Some may question his application (not least Francis himself) but there was no questioning his ability between the late 1980s and mid-90s.

When Francis was on his game, few could match him, something both Martin Johnson and John Eales acknowledged. Also made six Heineken Cup appearances.

6 Fergus Slattery

Ireland's best-ever back-rower, the UCD and Blackrock flanker was one of the finest No 7s to have played the game -- and was certainly capable of shining at No 6 to accommodate 'Jammie' Clinch in the side.

7 James 'Jammie' Clinch

Word has travelled down the generations testifying to the feral excellence of 'Jammie' on the open-side flank. Won over 30 caps for Ireland between 1923 and 1931 and his reputation forces Slattery across the scrum in a left-and-right combination.

8 Willie Duggan

The Kilkenny Colossus has gone down as one of the hardest men in Irish rugby, forging a worldwide reputation with Ireland and the Lions in the 1970s and 1980s.

The Blackrock No 8 was also a central figure on the great Leinster team of the early 1980s.

Irish Independent

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