Focus switches to attack as voting opens for the half-forward line on The Clare Echo’s Greatest Senior Hurling Team (1990 – 2020) poll.
There has been plenty of debate in houses across the country and further afield as the tough decisions are made to determine who gets a coveted place on the starting fifteen.
Voting is still open for positions one to nine.
Fergie Tuohy is the only one of the three nominees for number ten to have won a Munster medal. The Clarecastle man made his senior championship debut in 1991 graduating from the U21 ranks. Tuts’ final year on the panel was at the start of the millennium. He was responsible for setting up Ollie Baker’s goal in the 1995 Munster semi-final that first put Clare on their way to glory.
During his decade long stint on the senior squad, Diarmaid McMahon would be one of Clare’s main scorers from play. A member of the panel in 2002, his final year with the setup was in 2012. Although he lined out in a number of positions at county level, wearing the number ten was where he was most prolific using his aerial ability and ball-winning ability to great avail. His inter-county career finished following 37 appearances and a tally of 7-41.
Similar to McMahon, Peter Duggan had to serve his apprenticeship before nailing down a regular starting role. The Clooney/Quin freetaker was an unused substitute in 2013 but was one of Clare’s strongest performers over the past three years. Duggan didn’t start the 2017 Munster Final but the following year was the championship’s top scorer. He continued to hold a starting role last season before emigrating to Australia.
A fan favourite during the nineties, PJ O’Connell is the first name shortlisted for centre-forward. He had the mullet, moustache and swagger but Fingers backed it up with his hurling and contribution to the cause. At 22 years of age, Fingers made his Munster SHC debut in 1992. The O’Callaghans Mills atttacker had to endure some heavy defeats before Clare were crowned provincial kingpins three years later. O’Connell’s last Munster SHC outing coincided with Ger Loughnane’s final outing in the provincial championship as manager.
For a spell of six years, Ballyea’s Tony Griffin was the county’s All-Star. Griffin received the recognition in 2006, a year in which Clare were seventy minutes away from the All-Ireland decider. He was first called up to the senior panel in 2000 and stayed there until 2009, with the 2007 season spent cycling from Canada in memory of his late father. He scored 10-66 in 33 appearances for the Banner at senior level.
Like Fingers and Griffin, Podge Collins is another popular figure among the county’s supporters. Younger brother of Sean, he was called onto the panel in 2012 and was an All-Ireland winner and Hurler of the Year nominee a year later. Although their Munster semi-final defeat to Cork that year was a lowpoint, Collins was Clare’s best player. As the years progressed, it is games like this when others are off-form that the twenty eight year old does best.
Val Donnellan’s stint as a Clare hurler was before the introduction of the qualifiers which limited the amount of appearances he made. However, in each of the eleven championship appearances the Feakle man made he scored in every single outing. Val last played for the county seniors in 1994. In total he scored 5-26 while lining out at senior level.
Hurler of the Year in 1997, Jamesie O’Connor will always have the honour of scoring the winning point in the All-Ireland Final of that year against Tipperary. He was a vital component of the 1995 team and continued to play county senior until 2004. O’Connor won four All Stars during his eleven year senior career.
A senior debutant at the age of nineteen in 2007, Colin Ryan added a new dimension to his game having trained under Liam Sheedy and Davy Fitzgerald in 2012 which would lead to his greatest year in the county jersey a year later. The Newmarket-on-Fergus was harshly overlooked for an All-Star in 2013 having been named as the top scorer in the championship that season. He last appeared for the seniors in 2016 and brought the curtain down on his county career a year later with 25 appearances and a tally of 0-126 to his name.