Some of the toughest calls are being put forward Clare hurling supporters as voting commences to decide who the best midfielders to have lined out at senior level are.
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 defence.
GOALKEEPER VOTE – LINK
FULL-BACK LINE – VOTE
HALF-BACK LINE – VOTE
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.
Four players are nominated to wear number eight with a further four vying to get selected as number nine.
Stephen Sheedy is first up for consideration. The Clarecastle man nailed down a midfield spot in 1993 and was deemed one of the county’s top performers in the 1994 Munster Final. He was part of the panel that won two All-Ireland titles. Sheedy made his last senior appearance in 1999.
Consistent during Clare’s glory years, Ollie Baker thundered into the 95 team while still eligible for the U21 grade. He would go on to win two All-Stars to compliment his collection of All-Ireland and provincial medals. During his last three seasons at inter-county level, he had to compete with John Reddan for a starting role. Baker last lined out in 2004 following Anthony Daly’s first year in charge.
Injuries disrupted the twilight of Brian O’Connell’s county career but his contribution during the 2000s is still fondly remembered. The Wolfe Tones man played in each line of defence but gave his best displays at lár na páirce in saffron and blue. BOC was captain for three years and was nominated for an All-Star in 2008. He became one of the highest profile GAA emigrants during the recession, O’Connell returned to the senior panel in 2012 but an ongoing hip complaint prompted his departure at the beginning of the 2013 campaign.
Colm Galvin completes the list of players shortlisted to get one of the midfield spots. The Clonlara man has been on the senior panel since 2012, his call-up coming off the back of some excellent displays at minor level winning provincial titles in 2010 and 2011. Such was his ability that Colm played county senior before featuring for the Clare U21s. He won an All-Star in 2013 off the back of a memorable season. Galvin has yet to feature for the seniors during Brian Lohan’s time in charge.
Kilnamona’s Fergal Hegarty is included as the first nominee for the number nine spot. Hegarty alternated between a midfield role and one in the half-forward line during his five year stint on the senior team. Hego was a constant in the side that became All-Ireland champions in 1995. His last championship outing was the drawn 1999 All-Ireland quarter-final with Galway, Fergal was subsequently dropped for the replay and semi-final.
A mainstay on the senior side from 1997 to 2008, Colin Lynch was one of the most respected hurlers to wear the saffron and blue. His partnership with Ollie Baker in the middle of the field was a vital cog in Clare’s dominance under Ger Loughnane. The Ennis resident continued to ship fine performances as the year progressed, playing under five different managers at senior level. He won a Railway Cup medal in 1997 and is the holder of two All Star awards, Lynch lined out 48 times in senior championship for his county.
Jonathan Clancy made his senior championship debut during his Clarecastle colleague Anthony Daly’s three year term as Clare boss. Clancy’s burst of pace and first touch ensured he was a regular member of the starting fifteen from 2005 up to 2012. His game-time decreased during Davy Fitzgerald’s time in charge but nonetheless Clancy was involved as he claimed a coveted All-Ireland medal in 2013. He retired the following February.
Even before his senior debut, Tony Kelly was setting the Clare hurling sphere alight. But his first championship outing at senior level saw him score 1-02 as a character driven display saw them overcome Dublin in the qualifiers. A year on, he became Hurler of the Year as an All-Ireland title was secured, he collected an All-Star that year, his only one thus far. Tony has made 35 appearances in senior championship with a return of 4-129.