SPILLANE'S ALL-STARS | 

Pat Spillane's top 50 footballers of the past 50 years

Eoin Liston, Bernard Brogan and Brian Dooher are amongst legends to miss out
Lee Keegan of Mayo, Kerry's Colm Cooper and Dublin's Brian Fenton make Spillane's team

Lee Keegan of Mayo, Kerry's Colm Cooper and Dublin's Brian Fenton make Spillane's team

Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton lifts the Sam Maguire Cup

Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton lifts the Sam Maguire Cup

Larry Tompkins gets the nod in Pat Spillane's team of the past 50 years

Larry Tompkins gets the nod in Pat Spillane's team of the past 50 years

Robbie O'Malley of Meath during the 1990 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final

Robbie O'Malley of Meath during the 1990 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final

Pat Spillane

ONE sure-fire way to lose friends is to start naming best-ever GAA teams.

Still, it is a topic which causes endless and mostly good-humoured debates.

As Storm Barra raged across the country last week, I set myself an impossible task.

The GAA All-Star scheme celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

So I decided to select my best 50 GAA football All-Stars and, from them, name my All-Star Team of the last half century.

Listen, picking teams is a subjective business. I don't expect many will agree with my selection. It is nigh on impossible to whittle down a list of 750 winners to just 15.

The reality is that I could have picked three more teams which, on paper, are as good as the side I did choose.

I used two rules: I didn't consider myself or my siblings Mick and Tom.

Secondly, in the interests of balance, I picked roughly half the players from the first 25 years of the scheme when I was playing.

The remainder came from a list of players who excelled in the last quarter of a century.

My All-star team of the last 50 years

  1. Stephen Cluxton (Dublin)
  2. Robbie O'Malley (Meath)
  3. Matt Connor (Offaly)
  4. Jack O'Shea (Kerry)
  5. Lee Keegan (Mayo)
  6. Colm Cooper (Kerry)
  7. John O'Keeffe (Kerry)
  8. Larry Tompkins (Cork)
  9. Brian Fenton (Dublin)
  10. Cian O'Sullivan (Dublin)
  11. Peter Canavan (Tyrone)
  12. Paidi Ó sÉ (Kerry)
  13. Paul Flynn (Dublin)
  14. James McCarthy (Dublin)
  15. Mikey Sheehy (Kerry)
Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton lifts the Sam Maguire Cup

Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton lifts the Sam Maguire Cup

Goalkeepers

Martin Furlong (Offaly), Billy Morgan (Cork), John O'Leary (Dublin), Stephen Cluxton (Dublin), Niall Morgan (Tyrone)

Defenders

John O'Keeffe (Kerry), Robbie Kelleher (Dublin), Paudie Lynch (Kerry), Páidí Ó Sé (Kerry), Martin O'Connell (Meath), Tony Scullion (Derry), Robbie O'Malley (Meath), Seamus Moynihan (Kerry), Kieran McGeeney (Armagh), Tomás Ó Sé (Kerry), Marc Ó Sé (Kerry), Lee Keegan (Mayo), Cian O'Sullivan (Dublin), Jack McCaffrey (Dublin), James McCarthy (Dublin)

Robbie O'Malley of Meath during the 1990 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final

Robbie O'Malley of Meath during the 1990 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final

Among those in the running but didn't make the cut were Graham Geraghty (Meath), Sean Marty Lockhart (Derry), Graham Canty (Cork), Conor Gormley (Tyrone) and Tommy Drumm (Dublin)

Midfielders

Mick O'Connell (Kerry), Dermot Earley (Roscommon), Brian Mullins (Dublin), Sean Walsh (Kerry), Jack O'Shea (Kerry), Anthony Tohill (Derry), John McDermott (Meath), Darragh Ó Sé (Kerry) Sean Cavanagh (Tyrone), Brian Fenton (Dublin), Ciaran Whelan (Dublin), Paul McGrane (Armagh), Michael Murphy (Donegal), Neil Gallagher (Donegal), Kevin Walsh (Galway).

Jack O’Shea of Kerry in action against Dublin in the 1985 All-Ireland football final

Jack O’Shea of Kerry in action against Dublin in the 1985 All-Ireland football final

Forwards

John Egan (Kerry), Matt Connor (Offaly), Mikey Sheehy (Kerry), Greg Blaney (Down), Colm O'Rourke (Meath), Bernard Flynn (Meath), Larry Tompkins (Cork), Trevor Giles (Meath), Maurice Fitzgerald (Kerry), Padraic Joyce (Galway), Colm Cooper (Kerry), Peter Canavan (Tyrone), Paul Flynn (Dublin), Diarmuid Connolly (Dublin), David Clifford (Kerry).

Larry Tompkins gets the nod in Pat Spillane's team of the past 50 years

Larry Tompkins gets the nod in Pat Spillane's team of the past 50 years

The list of forwards who didn't make the cut is incredible. They include Sean O'Neill (Down), Jimmy Barry Murphy (Cork), Eoin Liston (Kerry), Ger Power (Kerry), Frank McGuigan (Tyrone), Mickey Linden (Down), Martin McHugh (Donegal), Michael Donnellan (Galway), Declan Browne (Tipperary), Oisín McConville (Armagh), Stephen O'Neill (Tyrone), Stevie McDonnell (Armagh), Paul Galvin (Kerry), Brian Dooher (Tyrone), Declan O'Sullivan (Kerry), Alan and Bernard Brogan (Dublin), Conor McManus (Monaghan), Ciaran Kilkenny (Dublin), Dean Rock (Dublin) and Con O'Callaghan (Dublin)

It is interesting to note that the only players on my 50 All-Time list who haven't won All-Ireland medals are Mayo's Lee Keegan and the late Dermot Earley.


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