Monday 19 February 2018

The Galway stars who were left behind

Alan Kerins pictured with his runners up medal after the 2001 All-Ireland SHC final
Alan Kerins pictured with his runners up medal after the 2001 All-Ireland SHC final
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Their record of underage success is second over the same period of time only to Kilkenny.

Since Galway's last All-Ireland senior title in 1988, their eight triumphs have surpassed the number of All-Ireland minor titles won by Kilkenny and they have also been beaten in a further seven finals, three more than Kilkenny. They have also kept step impressively at U-21 level, winning six to Kilkenny's seven.

But they don't need any reminding that over the last 24 barren years, Kilkenny have realigned the hurling world with 10 All-Ireland titles.

Many great Galway players, laden with All Stars and underage awards, have concluded their careers without that ultimate success. We look at the options for potentially the best team in those 24 years for whom time has passed by.

Richie Burke -- An All-Ireland U-21 winner in 1991, Burke enjoyed greater longevity than any of the eight subsequent Galway goalkeepers. He held on to the No 1 spot from 1991 to 1995 and was recalled for the 1998 championship. Liam Donoghue and Michael Crimmins, goalkeepers for the two most recent All-Ireland finals, also have strong claims.

Tom Helebert -- The current Galway selector won a league medal and an All Star in 1996 before retiring after a relatively short career that began late.

Shane Kavanagh -- Of all the players who went in last November's squad makeover, Kavanagh was one of the most surprising omissions. It is thought that the current management discussed a possible return for Kavanagh during the year.

Ollie Canning -- One of the greatest defenders from any county and any generation never to win an All-Ireland senior title. Canning began life as a Galway hurler in 1996, essentially as a forward, but his reputation as a wonderful corner-back is embellished by the four All Stars he won in 2001, '03, '05 and '09 before retiring at the end of 2010.

Padraig Kelly -- Considered worthy of Man of the Match in the All-Ireland final in 1993 despite being on the losing team. It took some performance to earn an accolade that has traditionally gone to a member of the winning side. That year was Kelly's second successive All Star and while his time with Galway was relatively short he made quite an impact nonetheless. Derek Hardiman is another option here.

Liam Hodgins -- A stalwart of various Galway defences through the 1990s, he was a versatile presence who eventually anchored the defence in the 2001 All-Ireland final.

Cathal Moore -- Brother of current captain Fergal, his versatility took him to the half-forward line at one stage but he was perhaps most at home at half-back. Michael Donoghue is another to consider.

Ger Farragher -- Another surprise omission at the beginning of this season, Farragher was an All Star forward in 2005 and is such a silky left-handed striker of the ball.

Fergal Healy -- Like Moore he was versatile, playing an All-Ireland final in 2001 at corner-forward before switching to midfield for 2005.

Kevin Broderick -- There have been few more talented players to play for Galway during the 24-year period in question. Broderick's point against Kilkenny in the 2001 All-Ireland semi-final will forever be remembered. Picked up two All Stars.

Joe Rabbitte -- A giant of a man who would later make his mark with Athenry, Rabbitte was a revelation for Galway in 1993, picking off four points against Kilkenny from full-forward. His size made him one of the best receivers of a puck-out in the game. Finished in 2002 with three All Stars. Mark Kerins also deserves consideration.

Alan Kerins -- A long career as a Galway senior concluded after last year's championship and he wasn't recalled by Anthony Cunningham. Also an accomplished footballer, he almost completed an All-Ireland double in 2001 and was a driving force behind the 2005 All-Ireland semi-final win over Kilkenny.

Ollie Fahy -- Another prodigious talent from the 1990s, Fahy has a couple of league medals to show for a decade of service to Galway.

Eugene Cloonan -- Casual in appearance but deadly in his accuracy from frees and play, Cloonan won an All-Ireland U-21 title as a goalkeeper but lost three subsequent finals.

Liam Burke -- Captained a Galway U-21 team to an All-Ireland title in 1993 and was always considered one of Galway's most talented underage players. Featured against Kilkenny in the 1993 All-Ireland final at corner-forward but had to be satisfied with just a league medal in 1996.

Irish Independent

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