Friday 23 August 2019

20 great players who missed out on GAA All Stars

Derry's Kieran McKeever in action against Donal Byers, Down
Derry's Kieran McKeever in action against Donal Byers, Down
Noel Roche, Clare
Dublin captain John Twomey
John Galvin, Limerick

Some many great players were chosen, but so many missed out. Martin Breheny has a look at those who came close to getting a 2015 All Star.

Paul Barden (Longford)

He didn't miss a single senior championship game in a career that stretched from 1998 to last year. How many All Star awards would he have won if he had been born in Kerry or Dublin?

John Galvin (Limerick)

He was chosen at midfield on the GPA Team of the Year in 2010 but lost out in the All Stars to Aidan Walsh (Cork) and Paddy Keenan, who became Louth's first recipient. A Limerick regular for 15 years, Galvin is a strong contender for the county's 'best ever' award.

Jim Reilly (Cavan)

In 2013 he was chosen on the best team of the previous 25 years, comprised of players who never won an All-Ireland title. A superb half back in the 1980s, he was a regular on Ulster teams and also played for Ireland but with Cavan making no big impression, he never won an All Star award.

Brian McAlinden (Armagh)

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Like Reilly, he was chosen on the best team never on win an All-Ireland but lost out on an All Star award, despite being an exceptionally good goalkeeper.

Noel Roche (Clare)

One of the most versatile performers ever to play the game, he had a very long career, all of which was spent under giant Kerry and Cork thumbs. That was no fault of Roche, who won 10 International Rules caps with Ireland and also played regularly with Munster.

Johnny Nevin (Carlow)

If he had been born in Cork, he might well have won All Stars in both football and hurling. Instead, he plied his trade in a county where first round championship exits were common, during a dual career that spanned three decades.

Stephen Melia (Louth)

Sadly, he passed away a few weeks ago at the age of 53. A top class performer in a variety of positions over 18 years, his status among his peers was recognised by John O'Leary, who selected him among the best players he ever played against.

Tom Prendergast (Laois)

He won a National League medal in 1986 but didn't pick up an All Star award (Colm Browne and Liam Irwin were the Laois representatives on the team) that year. An exciting forward talent over many years but always overlooked at the end of the season.

Leighton Glynn (Wicklow)

A dual player of high quality, he had a higher profile in football than hurling in a lengthy career which earned him interprovincial and international recognition,

Michael Meehan (Galway)

Being from a high-profile county brings no guarantee of winning an All Star if your career coincides with a down period. Meehan is a classic example, although how he missed out in 2008 remains a mystery.


Niall Rigney (Laois)

Pat Critchley (1985) remains Laois' only hurling All Star, which underlines the difficulty with a purely results-driven selection system. Rigney, whose versatile career spanned three decades, is one of quite a few Laois men whose talents merited an All Star award.

Pat McGrath (Waterford)

His son, Ken won three All Star awards but the honour eluded Pat, despite an outstanding career. Waterford's failure to win even a Munster title came against him in an era when there was no second chance for beaten teams to revive their All-Ireland ambitions. He was inducted into the GAA's Hall of Fame last year.

Michael Kilcoyne (Westmeath)

His brother, David is Westmeath's only hurling All Star (1986) but Michael had equally solid clams during a fine career, mostly as a midfielder, in the 1970s-80s.

John Twomey (Dublin)

Dublin's rating fluctuated wildly during Twomey's years but he was never less than effective and would certainly have made the team that won the Leinster title two years ago.

Noel Sands (Down)

Nominated on now fewer than five occasions (1992-93-94-95-97), he never made the final 15, leaving Gerard McGrattan as Down's only hurling All Star. McGrattan won the award in 1992, the only year he was nominated.

Brian Donnelly (Antrim)

Nominated in the half-forward line in 1984, he lost out to Nickey English (Tipperary), Kieran Brennan (Kilkenny) and Paddy Kelly (Limerick).

Paddy Quirke (Carlow)

As with Johnny Nevin and Cyril Hughes, Quirke would have enjoyed big success in both codes in a stronger dual county. His biggest hurling success came in 1979 when he won a Railway Cup medal with Leinster as Ger Henderson's midfield partner.

Joe Henry (Mayo)

He won three Railway Cup medals with a Galway-dominated Connacht team in the 1980s and also travelled to the US as a replacement All Star. However, Mayo's ranking on the inter-county scene meant he never won an All Star. How many would he have got if they had been born in Galway?

Kieran McKeever (Derry)

He won a football All Star award in 2000 and was also nominated for a hurling honour that year, but didn't make the team, losing out to opposition that had featured in the All-Ireland final.

Christy Walsh (Kerry)

His second half goal against Waterford in the 1993 Munster first round was the launch pad which took Kerry to a famous win. But then he had been at the heart of Kerry's effort for a long time, and also took his talents into the Munster team on a few occasions.

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