Millennium man Whealahan No 1 in Offaly's glory decades
IT’S nostalgia time for Offaly hurling supporters as they look through an illustrious list and reflect on the 20 glorious years between 1980 and 2000 when four All-Ireland, an Allianz League and nine Leinster titles were secured. They played in six All-Ireland SHC finals in that period
Special days, during which they also won 40 All Star awards, with the last coming in 2000 when Johnny Dooley was honoured for the third time.
It was also the year that Brian Whelahan was chosen on the Team of the Millennium, selected at left half-back for his remarkable levels of excellence over the previous 11 years.
The outstanding half-back of his generation, he added to his status by scoring 1-6 after switching to full-forward in the 1998 All-Ireland final when Offaly beat Kilkenny. It further emphasised his wonderful array of skills, which also played a big part in bringing three All-Ireland club titles to Birr. In addition to his Millennium award, he was twice Hurler of the Year, an honour enjoyed by only three others – DJ Carey, Henry Shefflin and Brian Corcoran – in the 62-year history of the award,
Johnny Dooley takes second place on our ratings, thanks to his high scoring rate from general play and frees over a long period in which he also showed great leadership.
The defensive solidity of Eugene Coughlan, Martin Hanamy, Ger Coughlan and Pat Delaney takes them into four of the next five places, which are completed by Joachim Kelly, a long-time enforcer at midfield.
Goalkeeper, Damien Martin, Offaly’s first hurling All Star in 1971, was central to their Leinster and All-Ireland breakthroughs in the early 1980s, as was Pádraig Horan, who captained them to ultimate glory in 1981.
Johnny Flaherty will always be remembered for his match-winning goal against Galway in the 1981 All-Ireland final in what was a defining moment in Offaly history. It was his most memorably contribution but there were many others too in a long career.
1. Brian Whelahan
2. Johnny Dooley
3. Eugene Coughlan
4. Martin Hanamy
5. Joachim Kelly
6. Pat Delaney
7. Ger Coughlan
8. Damien Martin
9. Pádraig Horan
10. Kevin Kinahan
11. Johnny Flaherty
12. Johnny Pilkington
13. Aidan Fogarty
14. Joe Dooley
15. Pat Carroll
16. Mark Corrigan
17. Pat Fleury
18. Kevin Martin
19. John Troy
20. Rory Hanniffy
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