Fierce debate has taken hold in houses across Co Clare in the search to determine the county’s fifteen best hurlers to have played senior level between 1990 and 2020.
Thousands of votes have already been submitted for who will line out in goals and in the full-back line. Click HERE if you haven’t already cast your vote.
Now, Friday sees the first opportunity for ‘the experts’ to decide who will make the cut in the half-back line.
A shortlist of forty five players to have featured in senior championship has been compiled by Sales Executive Niall O’Connor, sportswriter Seamus Hayes and Head of Sport Páraic McMahon.
One of the many utility men to have featured in Clare’s defences, John Russell could have been nominated in a number of positions but is the first nominee for the number five jersey. The Éire Óg back played county senior from 1985 until 1993. His last appearance in the saffron and blue was the 1993 Munster Final when Tipperary prevailed 3-27 2-12 with Russell centre-back on the team.
Liam Doyle is Bodyke’s sole nominee on the forty five person shortlist. The two time All-Ireland SHC winner was a constant during the Ger Loughnane glory year in the nineties. Liam was corner back on the Banner side that were crowned All-Ireland champions in 1993 before making the step up to senior level where he remained until the 2001 National League final.
2007 saw Clare reach the All-Ireland quarter-finals where they lost to an Andrew O’Shaughnessy inspired Limerick, however the biggest plus of Tony Considine’s stint in charge was the emergence of Brendan Bugler. He continued to line out at senior level for the next decade winning two All Star awards and collecting a coveted All-Ireland medal in 2013. The Whitegate man retired from inter-county hurling following Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor’s first season n charge of the seniors.
Classed by many individuals as one of the greatest exponents of the game, Seánie McMahon is the first nominee for the centre-back position. Hurler of the Year in 1995, McMahon was central to Clare’s All-Ireland breakthrough. He won All-Star accolades in 95, 97 and 98. The Doora/Barefield clubman retired in 2006 bringing the end to a memorable twelve year stint at centre back.
Corofin’s Gerry Quinn first appeared on the senior panel in 2000 but it wasn’t until 2002 that he really made at impression at this level, in a campaign that saw the Cyril Lyons managed side reach the All-Ireland decider. Dropped from the panel by Mike McNamara in 2009, his successor Ger ‘Sparrow’ O’Loughin brought Quinn back into the fold once again. During his decade long stint on the panel, Gerry was nominated for two All-Star awards, 2002 and 2005.
It wasn’t until the All-Ireland quarter-final that Conor Ryan first lined out at centre back in the heat of senior championship but he made it his own and ended up being named as man of the match in the drawn All-Ireland final that year. He was rewarded with an All Star that year and continued to represent the county seniors up until 2015. The Cratloe man was forced to prematurely retired in 2017 following medical advice.
Remarkably all three nominees for the final wing back spot are all ex captains. Beginning with Anthony Daly who historically led Clare to two All-Ireland and three Munster titles. His leadership was evident in the 95 decider when he took control on long range frees, one of which resulted in the match-winning goal from Eamon Taaffe. With 30 championship appearances to his name, Daly last featured in the 2001 championship and retired in February 2002. He would go on to manage both Clare and Dublin following his retirement.
Only the third man to lead Clare to All-Ireland glory, the choice of Patrick Donnellan as captain when Davy Fitzgerald became manager was an easy one. The O’Callaghans Mills man first played senior championship in 2006 and retired in 2017. His performances in 2013 and leadership shown particularly at crucial stages prompted his selection as an All-Star that year.
Patrick O’Connor is one of only two current defenders included in the shortlist. The Tubber man served as county captain during Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor’s three year tenure. The twenty nine year old has featured every year since 2011 for the county seniors. Similar to John Russell, Pat could have been included in a number of positions of the back-line. He was succeeded by John Conlon as county captain.