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Kilkenny are the supreme champions

CONGRATULATIONS to the Kilkenny hurlers who won three All-Ireland titles in 1979-1982-1983. You have been chosen as the Supreme All-Ireland champions of the past 25 years by our expert jury.

Kilkenny 1979-'82-'83 beat Cork 1999, Tipperary 1989-91, Clare 1995-97 and Galway 1987-88 to emerge as champions.

It was a glory era for Kilkenny as teams captained by Ger Fennelly (1979), Brian Cody (1982) and Liam Fennelly (1983) picked up three All-Ireland and two National League titles.

The 1979 team was managed jointly by Pat Henderson and Eddie Keher, while Henderson was manager in 1982 and 1983.

Cork won three successive All-Ireland titles in 1986-77-78, but only reached the semi-final of our championship where they were ousted by the Galway team of 1987-88.


CLARE 1995-97 v KILKENNY 1979-82-83

CLARE'S physical intensity broke the resistance of several opponents in their glory years, but would they have worn down this particular Kilkenny team? Probably not, according to the jury.

Clare had some pretty powerful men, especially in defence and midfield, where the Lohans, Anthony Daly, Liam Doyle and Seanie McMahon, Ollie Baker and Colin Lynch were as durable as they were determined.

But then Kilkenny had some pretty imposing characters too in Ger and John Henderson, Brian Cody, Dick O'Hara, Paddy Prendergast, Frank Cummins and Christy Heffernan. They had players of great subtlety too in Joe Hennessy, Ger and Liam Fennelly, Billy Fitzpatrick and Kieran Brennan.

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Clare's mental strength, which enabled them to break through the barrier and win major titles after decades of misery, provided compelling evidence of their excellence but the jury felt that they would have found Kilkenny 1979-82-83 a whole lot more difficult to wear down than their 1995-1997 opponents.

Jury Verdict: Kilkenny 7-0.

CORK 1976-77-78v Galway 1987-88

The closest contest of the entire series with Galway emerging narrow winners (former Galway manager, Cyril Farrell, had no vote by the way).

Cork won three All-Ireland titles in a row, but major question marks were raised as to the quality of the opposition in that period.

"Cork beat Wexford in two of the All-Ireland finals and it must be said that they were not good Wexford teams. Galway 1987-88 would have beaten Cork," said Liam Griffin.

"Cork won some very poor Munster finals in those years, including two against us (Clare). The standard wasn't as good then as ten years later when Galway were at their prime," agreed Ger Loughnane.

"The Galway team of 1987-88 was very strong. They probably should have won another All-Ireland too. Cork were a very good side but standards weren't great at the time," concurred Len Gaynor.

Cork had some outstanding forwards on that team, but the majority of the jury felt that the Galway defence would have been strong enough to match them while the Galway attack would have posed real problems for the Cork backs.

Jury Verdict: Galway 5-3.


GALWAY 1987-88 vKILKENNY 1979-82-83

BETWEEN 1978 and 1983, Kilkenny won three All-Ireland, four Leinster and two National League titles.

Between 1985 and 1990, Galway won two All-Ireland finals, lost three more and collected two League crowns in 1987 and 1989.

So which was the better team? According to a majority of our jury (Cyril Farrell and Eddie Keher weren't allowed to vote because of their county loyalties) Kilkenny would have won.

Galway had great physical strength in defence, allied to a solid mixture of power, speed and skill in attack, but then the same applies to Kilkenny, who as well as winning the All-Ireland titles in 1982 and 1983, also won a League double, a feat which hasn't been achieved since.

Ironically, Kilkenny twice beat Galway in the championship in 1979 and 1982, while Galway recorded a double over Kilkenny in the 1986 All-Ireland semi-final and the 1987 final.

Jury Verdict: Kilkenny 5-2.


Martin Breheny (GAA Correspondent, Irish Independent); PJ Cunningham (Sports Editor, Irish Independent); Vincent Hogan (Chief Sports Feature Writer, Irish Independent); Ger Loughnane (former Clare All-Star player and manager); Liam Griffin (former Wexford manager); Cyril Farrell (former Galway manager); Eddie Keher (former Kilkenny playing legend and coach); Pádraig Horan (former Offaly All-Ireland winning captain; former Offaly and Laois manager) Len Gaynor (former Tipperary star; former Clare and Tipperary manager).

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