Monday 5 December 2016

Taking the good with the bad for 50 years

When I say ‘Everybody says so’, I mean I say so – Ed Howe

Published 27/04/2015 | 09:23

Welcome to our special feature Unrivalled: The Stars of 50 Years of Irish Sporting Success. Over the coming days we will outline our leading sports stars and teams of the last five decades. It is by no means a definitive list . . . how could it be? Such a thing is not possible, it is merely our list.

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The original idea as presented to us was to name the top 50 Irish sports stars, but how could we? How could anyone? So what we ultimately agreed to do was to look at the last 50 years as five separate decades over the next five days:

Monday: 1965-74
Tuesday: 1975-84
Wednesday: 1985-94
Thursday: 1995-2004
Friday: 2005-14

In any exercise like this one of the great difficulties — nothwithstanding the huge variances in opinion that can exist in even a small group of people — is trying to compare sporting exploits from different eras. Quite simply, we decided, it cannot be done, not to any reasonable degree of satisfaction at any rate. At least when studying the form, so to speak, reducing the field to manageable time periods gives a far more appropriate balance to the exercise. How can we really compare Fergus Slattery to Jamie Heaslip? Or Jimmy Keaveney to Colm Cooper?

Different folk for different times.

Once we settled on the broad structure the task facing us became clearer. Because we were not comparing stars of the 60s and 70s with those from more recent times. We could look at each chosen decade in isolation, and we could compare the sports stars of that decade with others in their sport in the same period. We could also — and this proved crucial in the end — make a judgment, albeit a subjective one, on how his or her achievements matched up against those of their contemporaries from all the other sports under consideration. How, for instance, did Eddie Keher’s prowess on the hurling field compare in our view with that of, say, Shay O’Hanlon on the bike?

Having called upon all the writers and columnists in the Sunday Independent sports department to submit their nominees — both individuals and teams — for each decade our judging panel set to work.

For the record, as sports editor I was a judge, and I was joined by Dermot Gilleece, long-time respected columnist with this paper. Dermot’s career in journalism stretches back to the late 1950s. His vast knowledge, and the fact that he had seen many of those on the long list in action through his career, made him an invaluable part of the process.

The final member of the judging panel was Adhamhnan O’Sullivan, who was sports editor of the Sunday Independent for almost 20 years prior to his retirement in September 2006. Adhamhnan’s career began in 1959, in the Evening Press, and he remained with the Press Group for almost 30 years. His time in journalism mirrors Dermot’s and he too brought an incredible breadth of knowledge to the process.

We set to work studying the full list of nominees (who are set out below) and over many hours of deliberation, including a few spiky moments, we finally settled on 50 people and 15 teams.

It is, we hope, a broad and fair list. There is certainly a broad spread of counties: Dublin (16), Antrim (8), Kilkenny, Kerry, Cork (all 4), Waterford, Down (both 2), while Galway, Monaghan, Tyrone, Offaly, Clare, Meath, Limerick, Wicklow and Kildare all have a single individual representative each. When you add in the teams the following counties are also represented: Wexford, Longford, Armagh, Donegal, Louth, Tipperary, Sligo, Westmeath, Monaghan and Carlow.

You may not agree with some or indeed any of our selections but rest assured all were ultimately chosen because when it came down to it, we felt they deserved it. You may take a different view. And that is the beauty of it — we all see what we see. We love sport, we enjoy the highs and struggle on through the lows. We live and breathe it every day. We admire what our great athletes have achieved, and are achieving. We marvel at the courage and skill of our great teams. We take the good with the bad.

And most of all, we are all experts . . . enjoy Unrivalled. Enjoy the list, then enjoy putting your own version together and explaining why yours is the best!

The full list of sports stars and teams considered for our line-up of the greatest

THE SPORTS STARS
(Some appear in more than one decade)

1965-1974

George Best, Joe Carr, Enda Colleran, Neil Cusack, Tom Craddock, Paddy Doherty, John Doyle, Jimmy Doyle, Peter Doyle, Tom Dreaper, Sean Drey, Martin Furlong, Mike Gibson, John Giles, Don Givens, Steve Heighway, Pat Henderson, Alex Higgins, Michael Keating, Eddie Keher, Dermot Montieth, Billy Morton, Willie John McBride, Jim McCourt, John Bosco McDermott, Mattie McDonagh, Mary McKenna, Donie Nealon, Mick O’Connell, Christy O’Connor Snr, Shay O’Hanlon, Sean O’Neill, Alec O’Riordan, Mary Peters, Paddy Prendergast, Fergus Slattery, Pat Taaffe, Liam Tuohy, Ollie Walsh.

1975-84

Jimmy Barry Murphy, Brendan Bradley, Liam Brady, Siobhan Caffrey, Ollie Campbell, Eamonn Coghlan, John Connolly, Matt Connor, Frank Cummins, Ray Cummins, Derek Daly, Dermot Earley, John Egan, Ciaran Fitzgerald, Ray Flynn, Steve Heighway, Kevin Heffernan, Alex Higgins, Pat Jennings, Jimmy Keaveney, Sean Kelly, Eddie Macken, Denis Ogie Moran, Kevin Moran, Brian Mullins, Paddy Mullins, Mary McKenna, Paudie O’Connor, Mick O’Dwyer, Edward O’Grady, John O’Keeffe, David O’Leary, John Joe O’Neill, Martin O’Neill, Paidi O Se, Jack O’Shea, Ger Power, Ronan Rafferty, Hugh Russell, Mikey Sheehy, Noel Skehan, Fergus Slattery, Pat Spillane, Frank Stapleton, Denis Taylor, John Treacy, Tony Ward, John Watson.

1985-94

John Aldridge, Packie Bonner, Sean Boylan, Liam Brady, Siobhan Caffrey, DJ Carey, Michael Carruth, Eamonn Coghlan, Joe Cooney, Eamon Darcy, Paul Dean, Angela Downey, Joey Dunlop, Pat Eddery, Nicky English, Maurice Fitzgerald, Sean Kelly, Mark Lawrenson, Mickey Linden, Ray Houghton, Kevin Moran, Brendan Mullin, Teddy McCarthy, Wayne McCullough, Paul McGrath, Barry McGuigan, Liam McHale, Sammy McIlroy, Christy O’Connor Jr, David O’Leary, Frank O’Mara, Colm O’Rourke, Marcus O’Sullivan, Sonia O’Sullivan, Ronan Rafferty, Stephen Roche, Des Smyth, Dennis Taylor, Andy Townsend, Philip Walton, Ronnie Whelan, Brian Whelahan, David Wilkins, Jamie Wilkinson.

1995-2004

Peter Canavan, Sean Cavanagh, Ciaran Carey, DJ Carey, Steve Collins, Brian Corcoran, Anthony Daly, Ken Doherty, Joey Dunlop, Tommy Dunne, Richard Dunwoody, Nicky English, Kieran Fallon, Maurice Fitzgerald, Mick Galwey, Trevor Giles, Denis Irwin, Paraic Joyce, Roy Keane, Mick Kinane, Alan Lewis, Brian Lohan, Susan Moran, Seamus Moynihan, Johnny Murtagh, AP McCoy, Ken McGrath, Catherina McKiernan, Sean McMahon, Jamesie O’Connor, Brian O’Driscoll, Tomas O Se, Sonia O’Sullivan, Gary O’Toole, Niall O’Toole, Declan Ryan, Henry Shefflin, Michelle Smith, Jim Stynes, Anthony Tohill, Philip Walton, Brian Whelahan, Keith Wood.

2005-14

Paddy Barnes, Peter Canavan, Mark Carroll, Darren Clarke, Stephen Cluxton, Brian Cody, Michael Conlan, Colm Cooper, JJ Delaney, Ken Doherty, Damien Duff, Richard Dunne, Kenneth Egan, Barry Geraghty, Shay Given, Padraig Harrington,

Rob Heffernan, Richie Hogan, Richard Hughes, Eoin Kelly, Ed Joyce, Robbie Keane, Mick Kinane, Padraic Maher, Michael Murphy, Johnny Murtagh, Willie Mullins, AP McCoy, Graeme McDowell, Paul McGinley, Rory McIlroy, John Joe Nevin, Joseph O’Brien, Paul O’Connell, Brian O’Driscoll, Ronan O’Gara, Stephen O’Neill, Derval O’Rourke, Darragh O Se, Declan O’Sullivan, Henry Shefflin, Jonathan Sexton, Katie Taylor, Billy Walsh, Ruby Walsh, Tommy Walsh, Brian Whelahan,

. . . AND THE TEAMS

1965-74

Tom Dreaper’s stable, Racing

Vincent O’Brien’s stable, Racing

Kilkenny, Hurling

Galway three in a row, Gaelic football

Shamrock Rovers FAI Cup six in a row, Football

Kerry, Gaelic football

Tipperary, Hurling

Offaly, Gaelic football

Down, Gaelic football

1975-84

Irish women’s team, Golf

Northern Ireland, Football

Kerry, Gaelic football

Dublin, Gaelic football

Vincent O’Brien stable, Racing

Ireland 1982, Rugby

Cork, Hurling

Galway, Hurling

Offaly, Hurling

Munster 1978, Rugby

Aga Khan three in a row, Show Jumping

Shamrock Rovers, Football

1985-94

Ireland Dunhill Cup wins, Golf

Republic of Ireland, Football

Ireland 1985, Rugby

Meath, Gaelic football

Tipperary, Hurling

Galway, Hurling

Donegal, Gaelic football

Cork, Gaelic football

Down, Gaelic football

Kilkenny, Hurling

Ireland Olympic team, Boxing

Dublin, Gaelic football

1995-2004

Munster, Rugby

Kilkenny, Hurling

Republic of Ireland, Football

Rep of Ireland Underage, Football

Clare, Hurling

Offaly, Hurling

Shannon, Rugby

Cross Country Ladies, Athletics

Birr, Hurling

Kerry, Gaelic football

Galway, Gaelic football

Tyrone, Gaelic football

North County, Cricket

Ulster, Rugby

Cork, Hurling

2005-2014

Ireland, Rugby

Leinster, Rugby

Kilkenny, Hurling

Willie Mullins stable, Racing

Aidan O’Brien stable, Racing

Crossmaglen Rangers, Gaelic football

Ireland, Cricket

Munster, Rugby

Irish Olympic team, Boxing

Irish Women’s team, Rugby

Tyrone, Gaelic football

Ballyhale Shamrocks, Hurling

Cork, Ladies footballers

Kerry, Gaelic football

Shamrock Rovers, Football

Dublin, Football

 

 

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