GAA Giants: The Public Response...
Our GAA GIANTS supplement of two weeks ago, featuring the best teams from every county over the last 50 years, attracted a huge reaction from the public. It certainly pressed the nostalgia button as supporters analysed the choices, reached their own conclusions and let us know what they thought.
Today, we present a cross-section of the responses from readers who queried various selections, with replies from Martin Breheny
O Se choice stands test against Micko
"No Mick O'Connell on the Kerry team is a mortal sin, even if ye had to stick him in goal."
"I'm watching football for 50 years and I've never seen a more gifted footballer than Mick O'Connell. Crowds turned out to see him play. He should be an automatic on the team.
"Great magazine, but glaring omission. No King of Valentia on the Kerry team. Sacrilege."
MB: Unquestionably, Mick O'Connell's omission from the Kerry midfield (Jack O'Shea and Darragh O Se were chosen) drew most reaction of any team, much of which was highly critical. It was repeatedly pointed out that O'Connell had been chosen on the GAA's Century and Millennium teams, but we've moved 12 years on from the latter selection, which included a decade when Darragh O Se was consistently outstanding for Kerry. It would have been easy to choose O'Connell, but the selection panel's view was that O Se's contribution to Kerry between 1994 and 2009 stood the test against any opposition. The other option was to select O Se and O'Connell and omit Jack O'Shea. It was quickly discarded. Everybody recognises O'Connell's excellence, but challengers for all-time teams continue to emerge in every county and most especially in Kerry.
O'Leary record with the Dubs says it all
"John O'Leary ahead of Stephen Cluxton in the Dublin goal -- got that one wrong. Cluxton is the best goalkeeper ever to play football."
MB: Really? Let's confine the argument to Dublin for now. Cluxton may well overtake O'Leary as the top choice before he retires, but he still has some way to go. O'Leary's consistency in an 18-season career, when he played in a record-breaking 70 successive championship games, makes him a contender for the best goalkeeper of all time. Five All Star awards offer a fair indication of his worth, too. Incidentally, a certain Paddy Cullen was pretty handy too pre O'Leary.
Tipp team of the '60s was one up with best
"Can't believe that Pat Fox and Declan Ryan aren't on the Tipperary team. Fox should be a certainty. Why so many from the 1960s?"
MB: Because the Tipp team of the 1960s won four All-Ireland titles in five years and were regarded as one of the best all-time teams. You don't do that without a pretty special forward line.
Four O Ses -- and all worth their places
"Are the O Ses related to some of the selectors? Four of them on the Kerry team. What skill have they got? How many red cards have they got?
MB: For the purpose of this exercise, the selectors were related to every player in the country whose career made a case for inclusion on various teams. We reckoned Paidi, Darragh, Tomas and Marc O Se ticked that box.
Canning's class seals Galway selection
"How did Joe Canning get on the Galway team? He's only there a few years and hasn't even played in an All-Ireland senior final, other than club. It's an insult to the likes of Joe Connolly, Eanna Ryan, 'Hopper' McGrath, Joe Rabbitte, Bernie Forde, Eugene Cloonan and Alan Kerins.
MB: Somehow, I doubt if any of them will feel insulted. Most of them aren't full-forwards and, besides, it's hardly Canning's fault that he hasn't played in an All-Ireland (senior) final. Class has to be recognised, however long or short it's around.
Armagh teams of '77 and '82 the real deal
"In terms of Armagh, Tony McEntee should be there ahead of Jimmy Smyth. A solid team overall, but perhaps there's too much dominance of players from the 1970s-'80s."
MB: Don't dismiss the Armagh teams that reached the 1977 All-Ireland final and the 1982 semi-final. They were beaten by Dublin and Kerry respectively, two of the best teams in GAA history and would probably have won a title in another era.
Serious opposition for versatile Mcmanus
"No Ciaran McManus on the Offaly team. Sorry to see that. He was a great servant."
MB: No doubt about that, but despite his versatility, he was up against serious opposition everywhere.
Cats full-back line forwards' nightmare
"Hard to argue too much with the Kilkenny team, but would have Willie O'Connor and Noel Hickey in for 'Fan' Larkin and Brian Cody. John Power deserves a mention too.
MB: Clearly no 'Village' fan here. Larkin, Cody and Tyrrell made it an all-James
Stephens full-back line. Which full-forward line would beat that trio?
It's not all about winning All-irelands
"The omission of Declan Meehan, and John Donnellan for Seamus McHugh (Galway football) is ridiculous. Donnellan and McHugh did it on the big days in All-Ireland finals -- that should count for something.
MB: Everything can't hinge on whether a player won an All-Ireland medal. An individual is only as good as the support around him.
Holdens unlucky to miss out for Blues
"I find it strange that no Holdens made the Dublin hurling team. It's very harsh."
MB: Not harsh, but definitely unlucky.
Barron just had to be accommodated
"Can't believe there are no modern-day Cork players on the football team. They have been very consistent for a long time now, even if they've won only one All-Ireland so far. Anthony Lynch was a far better player than Kevin Kehilly. You went out of your way to accommodate Declan Barron at left full-forward. If he wasn't picked at midfield, centre-forward or full-forward, he should not have been there at all."
MB: We got several complaints over having none of the Cork players of the last decade on the team. Lynch, Graham Canty and Nicholas Murphy all had solid cases, but who should be left off? Kehilly was a superb defender in the 1970s-'80s, but, unfortunately for him, his season usually ended in July, when Cork suffered their annual defeat by Kerry. As for Barron, he had to be accommodated, but was up against Ray Cummins (14), Larry Tompkins (11), Teddy McCarthy (8) and Shea Fahy (9) for other positions.
Model's Murphy could not be omitted
"Darragh Ryan was a much better hurler than Willie Murphy. Darragh was unlucky that he came on the scene at a time when Wexford were slipping."
MB: Correct re the timing of Ryan's career. A great talent, but was he better than Willie Murphy? Our selectors thought not.
McStay plus points keep out O'Neill
"Disappointing not to see Kevin O'Neill in the Mayo team. I can't figure out how he's out and Ciaran McDonald and Kevin McStay get in."
MB: Surely McDonald was a better centre-forward than O'Neill. As for O'Neill v McStay, the selectors felt that the latter had more plus points.
Moving Fay to the left not revolutionary
"Selecting Darren Fay at left full-back for Meath is a cop-out. He was a full-back, pure and simple. Judge him against Jack Quinn and Mick Lyons and put Peter Darby or Terry Ferguson in the corner. Putting Fay at 4 is an insult to those lads.
MB: No insult -- just a case of an outstanding full-back vying with other great No 3s and being moved to the left. It's hardly a revolutionary move.
O'Connell's major role in golden era
"Putting Mick Carley at centre-forward (Westmeath football) is nonsense. It seems he was placed there to accommodate Rory O'Connell at midfield. Carley was one of the best midfielders of his era. O'Connell was an average player, great catch, woeful delivery."
MB: Didn't O'Connell play a major role in most of Westmeath's exciting days in the first half of the last decade? An average player wouldn't have managed that. Lest it's forgotten, Westmeath won their first Leinster title in 2004, having been very unlucky not to reach the All-Ireland semi-finals via the qualifiers in 2001. O'Connell was an important figure in that era.
Eight All-Irelands gets vote for Moran
"No John Egan or Declan O'Sullivan on the Kerry team. O'Sullivan should be in ahead of Ogie Moran."
MB: Kerry won eight All-Irelands with Moran at centre-forward... and lost two finals when they played him on the wing. Surely that's a mighty strong case for his inclusion. As for the late John Egan, he was up against Mikey Sheehy, 'Bomber' Liston and Colm Cooper for the three full-forward positions. That's quite a trio to run against.
Earley family double was well deserved
"Congrats to Dermot Earley Jnr on his selection on the Kildare team. It's some family double to have father (Dermot Snr) and son on the Roscommon and Kildare teams.
MB: Well deserved by both. It's also a great achievement by Martin Carney (Donegal and Mayo) and Larry Tompkins (Kildare and Cork) to be selected for two different counties.
Whelan unlucky never to meet Sam
"Ciaran Whelan had a good career with Dublin, but not as good as the great Des Foley. Dublin would never have won the 1963 All-Ireland without him."
MB: A borderline call here, but winning an All-Ireland can't always be the deciding criteria. Whelan was unlucky that his career started the year after Dublin won an All-Ireland and ended two years before they won the next one. That shouldn't devalue his contribution to the cause for a very long time.
Daly Banner switch a sensible compromise
"Not so sure about Anthony Daly right full-back on the Clare team. Surely he should be at left half-back or not in at all."
MB: Play him at No 7 and Sean Stack loses out. Daly had to be in, but we felt Stack deserved to be included too. Relocating Daly to the full-back line -- where he did play for a time -- was a sensible compromise.