The decades pass but Mickey Kearins’ primacy as Sligo’s best ever footballer remains untouched. Eamonn O’Hara bolstered his case during a 19-year year career with county, province and country and, like Kearins, played a major part in a rare Connacht championship success for Sligo. Still, Kearins remains No 1.
He played inter-county for 17 years and had the honour of becoming Sligo’s first All Star winner in 1971, the year the scheme was launched. Chosen at left half-forward, it was a fitting tribute to a man who had done so much for his county over previous decade.
He had a better record against the much vaunted Galway three-in-a-row (1964-65-66) defence than most other forwards from stronger counties and, in all probability, would have led a very good Sligo team to a Connacht title in a less competitive era.
They had to wait until 1975 to win their first title since 1928, with Kearins the main hitman as they beat Galway and Mayo (replay). He scored a total of 1-18 in those three games. In 1984, he was chosen on the Team of the Century for players who never won All-Ireland medals.
O’Hara’s Connacht success came in 2007 when they beat Galway in the final, a triumph which took them into the All-Ireland quarter-final for the second time in five years. They had got there via the qualifiers in 2002 by beating Tyrone, the reigning Allianz League champions, and were unlucky to lose in a replay to Armagh, who went on to win the All-Ireland title.
O’Hara was a leading figure in that exciting season too, delivering a series of excellent performances which earned him an All Star award at centre-forward. It was Sligo’s first All Star success since Barnes Murphy in 1974.
Barnes Murphy also played a significant role in their 1975 Connacht success, with his imposing presence at centre-back providing a major security point for his colleagues.
1. Mickey Kearins, 2. Eamonn O’Hara, 3. Barnes Murphy, 4. Charlie Harrison, 5. Martin McCarrick, 6. Mark Breheny, 7. John Brennan, 8. John Kent, 9. Paul Durcan, 10. Paul Taylor, 11. David Kelly, 12. Mattie Hoey, 13. Dessie Sloyan, 14. Johnny Davey, 15. Adrian Marren, 16. Mattie Brennan, 17. Noel McGuire, 18. Ross Donovan, 19. Seán Davey, 20. Johnny Stenson
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