Paul simply the best 'Bard' none
IN 2009, Paul Barden was chosen at left half-forward by a Leinster Council panel which selected the best team from the province over the previous 25 years.
He beat off off the challenge of Dessie Dolan (Westmeath), Kieran Duff (Dublin) and Tom Prendergast (Laois), who were also nominated for the No 12 jersey. It underlined the esteem in which Barden was held around the province.
He played on until 2014, continuing to enhance his reputation. The unprecedented talent flow in Dublin over the last decade makes it unlikely that he would retain his place if an updated ‘last 25 years’ team were chosen now, but that in no way detracts from Barden’s imprint on the football scene during a career which lasted 16 seasons across three decades.
He played 52 championship games (19 wins, 3 draws, 30 defeats).
He was twice nominated for an All Star award, but like so many others from the less successful counties over the years, he lost out to rivals whose seasons took them deep into the All-Ireland stages.
Jimmy Hanniffy, who we rank at No 2, enjoyed greater success than Barden, having won a National League title in 1966 and a Leinster title two years later in what was the most successful period in the county’s history.
Hanniffy was a key figure for Longford for much of the 1970s too – hence his high rating. Seán Donnelly also played a major part in Longford’s 1966 and 1968 triumphs, but only featured for a few seasons in the 1970s.
However, he was such a superb forward that he deserves to be on our list. Dessie Barry, Liam Tierney and Mick Casey complete the top five after lengthy careers during which deserved more rewards than they got.
1. Paul Barden, 2. Jimmy Hanniffy, 3 Dessie Barry, 4. Liam Tierney, 5. Mick Casey, 6. John ‘Speedy’ McCormack, 7. Pádraic Davis, 8. Mickey Quinn, 9. Frank McNamee, 10. Seán Donnelly, 11. Mickey O’Hara, 12. Niall Sheridan, 13. Brian Kavanagh, 14. Dermot Brady, 15. Declan Reilly, 16. Enda Barden, 17. Shane Mulligan, 18. Seán McCormack, 19. Trevor Smullen, 20. Joe McCabe
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