Declan Browne is a member of the exclusive club reserved for players who captained their team to championship success in Croke Park.
Granted, it wasn’t at the top end of the All-Ireland pyramid, but the delight and emotion he showed after receiving the Tommy Murphy Cup in 2005 underlined its importance to him and Tipperary.
The final against Wexford was played as the curtain-raiser to the blockbuster Armagh-Tyrone All-Ireland semi-final replay, a contest brimming with exceptional attacking talent.
Browne (right), who scored 1-3 from play and 0-4 from frees in the Tommy Murphy Cup final, would have been at home in either attack; so too would Wexford’s Matty Forde.
Both spent their long careers knowing that however hard they tried, they would never land the real All-Ireland title. There were rumours at various stages that Browne had been offered jobs in stronger counties with a view to enlisting his many talents.
“People down through the years said that maybe I should have moved to another county, but I would never have done that,” said Browne after the win over Wexford.
Tipperary was home and he was staying there, just as Forde remained in Wexford.
Browne holds the distinction of being the first Tipperary man to win an All Star award in 1998 and was honoured again in 2003.
It underlines how exceptional he was, as players from less successful counties need to be considerably better than rivals from the strongholds who dominate the awards every year.
Dual star, ‘Babs’ Keating didn’t win an All Star football award, but there weren’t as many opportunities for a Tipperary player to showcase his talents in the 1970s when defeat in the Munster championship (often in May) ended their year.
However, Keating’s attacking class earned him regular recognition with Munster.
1. Declan Browne, 2. Michael ‘Babs’ Keating, 3. Seán Kearney, 4. Gene McGrath, 5. Michael Quinlivan, 6. Peter Lambert, 7. Eddie Webster, 8. John O’Donoghue, 9. Vincent O’Donnell, 10. Brian Burke, 11. Conor Sweeney, 12. Brian Fox, 13. Derry Foley, 14. John Owens, 15. Philly Ryan, 16. Brian Lacey, 17. Séamus McCarthy, 18. Crístóir McGrath, 19. Denis Burke, 20. Liam Cronin
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