Presenting Our Cork All-Time Hurling XV

Presenting Our Cork All-Time Hurling XV
Conor Neville
By Conor Neville
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It's day 3 of Cork Week at We've picked both our all-time football XI and our all-time rugby XV. Now it's time for the hurlers. A daunting challenge and one that is sure to provoke dissent (presumably of the angry online variety).

Here's the team.

Ger Cunningham


50:50 on whether Ger Cunningham or Donal Óg Cusack were going to get the nod.

Cunningham, however, won more All-Stars, was awarded the hurler of the year award in 1986 and was selected 0n the Munster commemorative 1984-2009 team.

Delivered a stunning goalkeeping display in the League final trilogy against Wexford in 1993. Cork won out in that saga but it would be Cunningham's last title as the side entered the wilderness.

The king of the long puck competition too.


Brian Murphy


With a heavy heart, we've gone for 1970s Brian Murphy ahead of 2000s Brian Murphy.

The two corner backs on the team are during from the great Cork side of the 1970s, which ruled the roost from 1976 to 1978. Like so many Corkmen from the era, he won All-Ireland titles in both football and hurling.


His club career was devoid of hurling success, playing as he did for Nemo Rangers in both codes. He collected football titles by the bucketload.

He picked up a couple of All-Stars in both hurling and football.

Diarmuid O'Sullivan



Playing from 1997 until his retirement early in 2009, O'Sullivan won three All-Ireland medals as Cork bounced back from a mid-1990s slump.

He was a full-back as sketched by a cartoonist. A Cloyne teammate of Donal Óg Cusack. He struggled in his retirement season, suffering something of a roasting at the hands of debutant Joe Canning on an otherwise glorious day for Cork.

John Horgan



A legendary corner back on the greatest Cork team of the television era, the late John Horgan won four All-Ireland titles in the 1970s. He was awarded the Hurler of the Year award in 1978, which, as we all concede, is an unusually difficult feat for a corner back to achieve. He missed the 1976 final through injury. Through it all, he picked up county titles galore during a period of plenty for Blackrock.

He was captain of the side that chased four in a row in '79 but Galway halted their gallop in the semi-final. Denis Coughlan, a midfielder/wing back on the side, said of Horgan.

I always felt in our time that there was more play going down the left wing of the defence, maybe because right-handed players in the opposing defence are oriented that way.

Because of that I thought John was ideally suited to that role, left-corner-back could be very demanding, he was very good to attack the ball.

He fitted in very well with that Cork team — he was a shy man but got on well with everybody and was held in very high regard, not surprisingly with his record. As a club captain in particular he had a phenomenal record, and when we were going for four in a row in 1979, we were genuinely delighted for him because he was captain, even though it didn’t work out.

Horgan was the first of the 1970s to pass away this summer at the age of 66.


Denis Coughlan 


Another dual hero from the team of the 1970s, Coughlan won four hurling titles (1970, 76, 77, 78) and the one solitary football title (1973). His trophy cabinet at county level is the exact same as his old teammate and Blackrock rival Ray Cummins.

A versatile player who operated at either midfield or the half-back line, Coughlan was selected at wing-back on the Cork team of the 20th Century in 1999.

He won the hurler of the year award in 1977 and collected four All-Stars in the first decade of the scheme.

Brian Corcoran


Won Hurler of the Year award in his debut season. Not Young Hurler of the Year award. The Hurler of the Year award. And Cork didn't even win the All-Ireland that year. Now for ya, Austin Gleeson.

As soon as he made his senior debut against reigning champions Tipp in 1992, it was clear a star was born. While he lost the All-Ireland final that year and, notwithstanding Cork's subsequent half-decade long slump, Corcoran still shone for the hurlers.

By the time they re-emerged, he was the brightest star in the firmament, a totemic and powerful figure as they regained the All-Ireland in 1999. After a two-year 'retirement', he returned to the Cork fold with only silverware on his mind. He won two All-Ireland's at full-forward. He was hardly any less influential than he was at centre-half back.

Donal O'Grady has already pondered the question of where to play him in an all-time XV. You'd play him centre-back against the wind and full-forward with the wind.

Sean Óg O' Hailpin



The hurler of the year in 2004, O'Hailpin captained the side to a back-to-back All-Ireland the following year. He made his debut during the bleak years of the mid-1990s, when Jimmy Barry Murphy turned his attention to pulling them out of the mire.

The stylish and powerful wing-back kept plugging away for over 15 years. Jimmy Barry Murphy was back as manager when he did decide to quit in 2012. A previous management team had made the hugely unpopular decision of trying to 'retire him' two years previously. JBM recognised the value of his presence in a young side and recalled him to the setup.

Jack Lynch


He remains the only man to win six All-Ireland titles in a row, five of them won in hurling (1940, 42, 43, 44, 45) with a football win (1941) nestled among them.

He's been selected on all the teams of GAA greats, the Cork Team of the Century, the Munster Team of the Millenium, the Team of the Century (1984), and yes, the Team of the Millennium (1999).

Cork didn't forget this. During his political heyday, he used to collect the kind of vote that would drive Willie O'Dea demented with jealousy. Two quotas.

John Fenton


We are duty bound to employ the word "stylist" here. Just pipping Gerald McCarthy to the spot here, it's beside the point to talk about Fenton's medal haul. As if that's why he's remembered.

Fenton is beloved for his stylish striking. A purist's delight. His low drive into JBM in the 1983 All-Ireland semi-final teed up what many regard as the greatest goal of all time.

The goal that usually finishes second in such lists was scored by Fenton himself. We speak of his breathtaking strike against Limerick in the 1987 Munster championship match.

Christy Ring

The old-timers still probably grimace when they hear Henry Shefflin being casually labled the greatest hurler of all time. One can't help be struck by the uniformity of opinion among all these guys on Christy's pre-eminence.

Christy didn't share this nostalgia-ridden mentality himself.

"Let no one say the best hurlers belong to the past. They're with us now. And better yet to come..."

Eight All-Ireland titles won and 14 Cork senior titles claimed across a 23 year career.

Tomás Mulcahy


For those from other counties who barely remember Mulcahy's career, one only ever seemed to hear his name referenced in connection with dodgy goals.

Whether it was his score in the second half of the 1986 All-Ireland final, in which he took several thousand steps, or his comically illegal effort in the 1992 Munster Final, Mulcahy had a knack for sending referees into a strange trance whereby they momentarily forgot what was in the rulebook.

He won three All-Ireland titles with Cork between 1984 and 1990, captaining the side to the last of those. On that day, they were heavy outsiders against a Galway team chasing their third All-Ireland in four years. Seven points down at the break, lore has it they were read the riot act by Canon O'Brien at half-time. They snaffled four goals in a bewildering spell after the break and snatched an unlikely win. The donkeys had won the derby and Mulcahy went up to collect the McCarthy Cup, their last for almost a decade.

Paddy Barry

A hero from the Cork side of the 1950s. We have accepted the advice of our elders that Barry, left corner forward on the three-in-a-row team of the early 1950s, cannot be overlooked. To accommodate Joe Deane in the corner, we've moved Barry to wing forward.

Tipp's John Doyle called one of the best players he'd ever played against. Was selected on the Cork Team of the Century in 1999. A legendary figure for both Sarsfields and Cork.

Jimmy Barry Murphy


Jimmy has been written about fair length this week. Nominee for a spot on Cork's Mt. Rushmore, where it appears he will have to give second best to Christy Ring. And a nominee for the Cork cult hero poll, where he's topping the poll.

A hero to an entire generation in Cork.

Ray Cummins


Another Team of the Millennium player. Bizarrely, he replaced Nicky Rackard from the Team of the Century team despite the fact that neither of them had pucked a ball in the intervening fifteen years.

The whims of the selection committee. Cummins' elegance in the full forward line was more in fashion by the turn of the century clearly. More likely, the Team of the Century committee couldn't countenance picking him because his playing days were too fresh in the memory.

Yet another dual hero. Won four All-Ireland hurling titles and one football title during the 70s.

Joe Deane


Cork's all-time second highest scorer, Deane epitomises JBM's class of '99. Absurdly small by the bulked up standards of the time, Deane delighted supporters with his touch and skill as Cork returned to the summit of hurling following the 90s slump. Numbered among the greatest 125 hurlers of all time in that 1999 poll.

Made his championship debut in Jimmy Barry Murphy's first year in charge. He saw the worst of times as Cork were slaughtered by Limerick in Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Within a few years, he would be possibly the brightest star in the forward line as Cork hurling re-emerged into the light.

Battled cancer late in his career, but fought back to deliver one of his most memorable displays against Galway in the 2008 championship. The last great performance of that generation of Cork hurlers.

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