Critchley's historic tale as sole All Star in Laois
IN 1984, Laois hurlers reached the final of the Centenary Cup, a special knock-out competition which marked the GAA’s 100th anniversary. They defied predictions by reaching the decider where they lost to Cork, having earlier beating Galway and Tipperary by a point each in the semi-final and quarter-final.
However, Laois failed to reproduce that form in the final against the reigning All-Ireland champions.
A year later, Laois beat Dublin and Wexford to reach the Leinster final for the first time in 34 years. They lost to Offaly, who went on to win the All-Ireland SHC title.
By the end of the year, midfielder, Pat Critchley had brought a first All Star award in either code to the O’Moore County, selected at midfield alongside Cork’s John Fenton. Thirty-five years later, they are still waiting for their second hurling award.
It was quite an achievement for Critchley to land the All Star at a time when, apart from Fenton, there were so many other excellent midfielders vying for selection,. Despite that, few questioned Critchley’s right to the honour.
His colleague, John Taylor was unlucky not to win an All Star in 1985, but then it was always unlikely that two Laois men would be selected. Taylor was a genuine All Star contender in other seasons too but never made the final cut.
The same applied later on to Niall Rigney, who played for Laois for 14 seasons across three decades. Unfortunately, there was no second chance for early championship casualties at that time so Rigney’s season was, more often than not, ended by mid-June and sometimes much earlier.
He played in defence, midfield and attack at various stages, displaying a wonderful versatility which served Laois extremely well. Michael Walsh and Mick Mahon complete our top five.
1. Pat Critchley
2. Niall Rigney
3. John Taylor
4. Michael Walsh
5. Mick Mahon
6. Frank Keenan
7. PJ Cuddy
8. James Young
9. Joe Dollard
10. Christy Jones
11. Willie Hyland
12. Cyril Duggan
13. Bill Maher
14. Martin Cuddy
15. Enda Rowland
16. Joe Fitzpatrick
17. Matthew Whelan
18. Cahir Healy
19. Paul Cuddy
20. John Bohane
See Tuesday's Irish Independent and Independent.ie to find out who has made the grade for each team in Munster and have your say on each county's poll below