| 9.7°C Dublin

Henry Shefflin and Jack O'Shea reign supreme as our search for the top hurler and footballer of the past 125 years concludes

25 Enda Colleran (Galway) Galway's captain for the last two of their three-in-a-row, he played in four successive All-Ireland finals at right corner-back. A prodigious striker of the ball who took over kick-out responsibilities for a period.

24 Paddy O'Brien (Meath) A full-back in the traditional mould, he won All-Ireland medals with Meath in 1949 and '54 and made the Team of the Century in his customary position.

23 Darragh O Se (Kerry) For longevity in the modern era, Darragh's record stands apart. The All-Ireland final just past produced a sixth All-Ireland medal in his 81st championship game. Warrior, fielder and wonderful foot-passer.

22 Sean Flanagan (Mayo) Mayo's celebrated captain in 1950 and '51 when they won their last All-Ireland titles, he was the Team of the Century and Team of the Millennium left corner back.

21 Colm O'Rourke (Meath) Like Darragh O Se, an enduring figure that played inter-county football for almost 20 years. A superb left-footed kicker of the ball, who won Footballer of the Year in 1991, despite not winning an All-Ireland that year.

20 Colm Cooper (Kerry) The measure of Cooper is as much how he has played in All-Ireland finals that Kerry have lost (to Tyrone) as those he has played in and won. Four All-Ireland medals, five All Stars and he's still only 27.

19 Eoin 'Bomber' Liston (Kerry) A colossal presence in the Kerry full-forward line, 6' 5" Liston was deceptively quick and is remembered best for his three goals in the 1978 All-Ireland final against Dublin. Winner of seven All-Ireland medals.

18 John O'Keeffe (Kerry) Like so many of his colleagues, O'Keeffe's strength was his versatility, and he enjoyed time with Kerry as a centre-back and midfielder before contesting seven All-Ireland finals at full-back. Winner of five All Stars.

17 Mickey Kearins (Sligo) The highest on our list not to have an All-Ireland medal, Mickey Kearins was one of the game's great forwards in a career that spanned between 1962 and '78. Won a Connacht medal in 1975 and regularly surpassed the 10-point mark in matches.

16 Tom Langan (Mayo) Langan was a pivotal force on the Mayo team that landed back-to-back All-Ireland successes in 1951 and '52. His renowned goalscoring earned him the full-forward berth on the teams of the century and millennium.

Sport Newsletter

Get the best analysis and comment from our award-winning team of writers and columnists with our free newsletter.

This field is required

15 Dan O'Keeffe (Kerry) The legendary Kerry goalkeeper won seven All-Ireland medals and gathered a record 15 Munster championships in a celebrated career that earned him recognition on the Team of the millennium.

14 Kevin Heffernan (Dublin) Heffernan the forward scored 52-172 in 119 games for Dublin between 1955 and '62. Made the teams of the century and millennium and captained Dublin to success in 1958.

13 Mick O'Dwyer (Kerry) O'Dwyer's playing career divides into two sections, the defender from 1956 to 1963 and the sprightly corner-forward for the next 11 years when he really made his mark. He was Footballer of the Year in 1969 and topped the scoring charts for three successive years to 1971.

12 Larry Tompkins (Kildare and Cork) His switch to Cork revolutionised football in the Rebel County as they contested the next four All-Ireland finals, winning two. A superb free-taker who brought new levels of personal preparation to Gaelic football.

11 Brian Mullins (Dublin) A colossus of a midfielder, Mullins had the capacity to dominate games on his own for Dublin through his sheer force of will and competitiveness. But for a car accident at the height of his career, he may have gone on to even greater things.

10 Seamus Moynihan (Kerry) You'll struggle to remember Moynihan wasting a ball throughout a 15-year career with Kerry. A player who loved to roam from half-back, but showed versatility in 2000 to slot in at full- back and win Footballer of the Year.

9 John Joe O'Reilly (Cavan) The highest defender to feature on our list, he was centre-back on the teams of the century and millennium and renowned for his commanding hold of his position. He died aged 34, five years after captaining Cavan to All-Ireland success in the Polo Grounds.

8 Matt Connor (Offaly) To put Matt Connor's brilliance as a forward into perspective, consider this statistic: he scored 2-9, 2-3 from play, in defeat against the Kerry defence in the 1980 All-Ireland semi-final. A supreme stylist, equally comfortable off either foot, he won All Stars in 1980, '82 and '83 before a road accident in late 1984 ended his career.

7 Mike Sheehy (Kerry) One of the most stylish forwards, Mike Sheehy is best remembered for THAT goal against Dublin in '78, a touch of genius. He won eight All-Ireland medals, seven All Stars and figured on both teams of the century and millennium.

6 Pat Spillane (Kerry) For speed, agility and endless work rate, Spillane had no peers. A record All Star winner with nine awards, Spillane developed a magnificent long-range kicking technique. Footballer of the Year in 1978 and '86 and left half-forward on the teams of the century and millennium.

5 Sean O'Neill (Down) O'Neill's footballing genius was central to Down in the 1960s, whether at right half-forward or full-forward, when he conjured moves out of nothing. An All Star winner in 1971 and '72, he was Footballer of the Year in 1968.

4 Mick O'Connell (Kerry) The football purist from Valentia Island. A supreme catcher and kicker of Gaelic football, he won four All-Ireland medals in a career that lasted 19 seasons. Was Footballer of the year in 1962.

3 Peter Canavan (Tyrone) Canavan's presence among the goliaths of the game may be contentious to some, but every time his goal in the 2005 All-Ireland final is replayed it hardens his case. The 2003 Footballer of the Year, his vision and bravery even surpassed his sublime finishing.

2 Sean Purcell (Galway) The other 'terrible twin', his versatility brought him from defence to midfield and eventually attack, his landmark season being 1958 when he scored 11-74 in 22 games. Made both teams of the century and millennium at centre-forward.

1 Jack O'Shea (Kerry) Being voted Footballer of the Year four times -- 1980, '81, '84 and '85 -- says it all. Made the Team of the Century, but overlooked for the Team of the millennium. O'Shea was the ultimate all-round package, who ticked every box.

25 Tony Reddin (Tipperary) Born in Galway, but it was after moving to Tipperary that he excelled as a goalkeeper, helping Tipperary to the All-Ireland treble in 1949-50-51. Chosen on the teams of the Century and Millennium.

24 Ray Cummins (Cork) An outstanding dual player, he was full-forward on the team of the Millennium. A big, powerful operator, he had a phenomenally high goal rate.

23 Jimmy Finn (Tipperary) Right half-back on the team of the Century (but not the Millennium), he earned his high reputation thanks to a fine career in the 1950s, during which he won three All-Ireland medals.

22 Brian Lohan (Clare) A major driving force behind the Clare surge in 1995, he brought power, authority and intelligence to his full-back play. An inspiring performer, he won All Stars in 1995, '96, '97 and 2002.

21 Pat Hartigan (Limerick) Would Limerick have won an All-Ireland title in the early '80s if he hadn't been forced to retire with an eye injury in 1979? Probably. He brought a fresh approach to full-back play and was rewarded with five successive All Stars, 1971-75.

22 John Keane (Waterford) Although he won only one All-Ireland title (1948), he is regarded as possibly the best ever Waterford player. He won seven Railway Cup medals with Munster and was centre-back on the teams of the Century and Millennium.

19 Ger Henderson (Kilkenny) He learned the centre-back trade from older brother, Pat before going on to become a truly outstanding No 6. A towering figure in the All-Ireland wins of 1979, '82, '83, he won five All Stars in 1978, '79, '82, '83, '87. Hurler of the Year in 1979.

18 John Fenton (Cork) An All-Ireland medal winner in 1984 (as captain) and 1986, he brought huge style and elegance to his game. Deadly accurate from frees and open play, he won five successive All Stars at midfield from 1983 to '87.

17 Bobby Rackard (Wexford) Made his senior debut at the age of 19 and went on to become a superb corner-back, and played a significant role in Wexford's All-Ireland double in 1955-56. Chosen on the teams of the Century and the Millennium.

16 Noel Skehan (Kilkenny) The only man (so far) with nine All-Ireland senior medals. Served his apprenticeship under Ollie Walsh and went on to become a fabulous goalkeeper. Hurler of the Year in 1982. Seven All Stars.

15 Nick O'Donnell (Wexford) Full-back on the teams of the Century and Millennium, he won three All-Ireland medals in 1955, '56, and '60, the first and third as captain.

14 Jack Lynch (Cork) The former Taoiseach won six successive All-Ireland medals (1941-'46), five in hurling and one in football (1945). A midfielder with an elegant touch, he was chosen on the hurling Teams of the Century and Millennium.

13 John Doyle (Tipperary) Eight All-Irelands, 11 NHL and eight Railway Cup medals. That's the remarkable haul of one of hurling's finest corner-backs. Chosen on the teams of the Century and Millennium.

12 Joe Cooney (Galway) From a famous hurling family that achieved so much, he was Hurler of the Year in 1987. A beautifully elegant performer in attack or midfield, he won two All-Ireland senior medals and five All Star awards in 1985, '86, '87, '89 and '90.

11 Nicky English (Tipperary) He won three of his six All Star awards before Tipperary's Munster championship famine ended in 1987 and added three more later. His scoring talents were crucial to Tipp's revival, which yielded All-Irelands in 1989 and '91. Hurler of the Year in '89.

10 Tommy Walsh (Kilkenny) Still only 26-years-old, but already among the true greats. His influence on the Kilkenny team since 2003 has been immense. Seven successive All Star awards in four different lines say it all about his consistent excellence.

9 Lory Meagher (Kilkenny) "I have not seen the equal of his artistry," wrote renowned GAA journalist and historian, Padraig Puirseal. Meagher was one of the first true stars of the GAA in the 1920s and 1930s, establishing an iconic status which still endures. A midfielder on the teams of the Century and Millennium.

8 Mick Mackey (Limerick) Another of the heroic figures in hurling history, he made his Limerick debut in 1930 and lasted for 17 years at the top level. Centre-forward on the teams of the Century and Millennium.

7 Brian Whelahan (Offaly) Chosen on the Team of the Millennium (he replaced Tipperary's Jimmy Finn from the Team of the Century), he was a brilliant wing-back, while also delivering a match-winning performance as a full-forward in the 1998 All-Ireland final. Hurler of the year in 1998 and 1994, when, bizarrely, he was overlooked for an All Star.

6 Nicky Rackard (Wexford) A huge figure in Wexford hurling in the 1950s. A brilliant full-forward, he holds -- among other things - the amazing record of having scored 7-7 in the 1954 All-Ireland semi-final against Antrim. Full-forward on the teams of the Century and Millennium.

5 Eddie Keher (Kilkenny) Averaged almost nine points a game in 50 championship outings between 1959 and 1977, during which he won every honour, many of them several times. Left full-forward on Teams of the Century and Millennium and a five-time All Star.

4 DJ Carey (Kilkenny) Another Kilkenny forward with a magical touch, a consistently high scoring rate and a career which lasted 16 seasons. Hurler of the Year in 1993 and 2000, he won nine All Star awards.

3 Jimmy Doyle (Tipperary) One of hurling's greatest finishers, he won his first senior All-Ireland as an 18-year-old and added five more titles to an impressive haul. Hurler of the year in 1965. Right full-forward on the teams of the Century and Millennium.

2 Christy Ring (Cork) Many regard him as the unchallengeable No 1, pointing to his amazing career during which he won eight All-Irelands, four National Leagues and 18 Railway Cups, Ring was a legend whose star has never waned. Right half-forward on teams of the century and Millennium.

1 Henry Shefflin (Kilkenny) Championship games: 48. Scored: 22-370. From placed balls: 3-258; From open play: 19-112. Average per game: 9.08pts. Average from placed balls: 5.57 pts; Average from open play: 3.52pts. Seven All-Ireland medals; nine All Stars. Two Hurler of the Year awards.

And he's still only 30 years old. What will his haul be by 2014?


Most Watched





Privacy