50 years of hurling All Stars: Eamonn Cregan's all-time selection
1 NOEL SKEHAN - (Kilkenny; 7 awards, 1972-76, ’82-83) - Spent a long time, maybe too long, on the bench behind Ollie Walsh. Forwards hated him. Great shot stopper and controller of the ball in days when sliotar was bigger and heavier. Played squash and his eye-to-hand co-ordination was unbelievable.
2 TOM NEVILLE - (Wexford; 3 awards, 1963-65) - At times he was a one-man team. Those days you mostly hurled in a fixed position, although he was comfortable in either corner. He had that Wexford ability in the air and in the days when you could rush the keeper, no-one got past him.
3 BRIAN LOHAN - (Clare; 4 awards, 1995-97, 2002) - An example of a later developing player, he had this ability to attack high ball and come out of the defence with possession and hit big clearances, which was inspirational but he was also single-minded and a very good man marker.
4 MARTIN HANAMY - (Offaly; 3 awards, 1988, ’94, ’98) - A really under-rated corner back, he stopped forwards hurling. He wasn’t exceptionally fast, but pace never bothered him because he had courage and read the game so well. He rarely played badly, but if he did, Offaly lost.
5 TOMMY WALSH - (Kilkenny; 9 awards, 2003-11) - A tough call with Brian Whelahan, but Walsh has been the outstanding number five for nearly a whole decade. He’s not big, but he’s physical - not tall, but how often is he beaten in the bar? Great positioning and reading of the game.
6 TONY WALL - (Tipperary; 2 awards, 1963-64) - Just ahead of Seán McMahon because he was, for me, the epitome of what a centre back should be. Nothing got past him and he always played good ball into his forwards. Studied the position and made it look simple. Which it’s not.
7 JJ DELANEY - (Kilkenny; 6 awards 2002-03, ‘06, ’08, ’10, ’12) - Great backs don’t have to be flamboyant and he simply makes it difficult for opponents to score. Aggressive, he hounds his man, is good in the air and able to hit left and right. Massive contribution to Kilkenny’s achievements.
8 THEO ENGLISH - (Tipperary; 2 awards, 1963, ‘66) - He was the engine of a great Tipperary team and controlled the middle even though he operated almost entirely within a circle of about 30 yards. He was astute with the ball and very, very effective.
9 FRANK CUMMINS - (Kilkenny; 4 awards 1971-72; ‘82-83) - Sometimes a bit forgotten because he’s so unassuming, but without him Kilkenny wouldn’t have won nearly as much. A wrecking ball in the middle he was so strong and although not flashy, he got the forwards moving.
10 JIMMY BARRY-MURPHY - (Cork; 5 awards, ’76-78, ’83, ‘86) - I thought he was a genius, with a great hurling brain to add to his innate ability. Outstanding goal against Galway still talked about 30 years later. Above all, he was a gentleman, who took punishment and played on.
11 HENRY SHEFFLIN - (Kilkenny; 11 awards 1999, 2002-09 and ‘11-12) - He would have been great in any era, sixties or thirties or whenever. Skilful and intelligent, he doesn’t mind if you want to mix it because he can as well. If you want to play, he’ll play. Above all, a leader.
12 JOE COONEY - (Galway; 5 awards 1985-87, ‘89-90) - He was the main influence and leadership figure in a very good Galway team. His vision and ability to think fast made the play for others. But he was also able to pose a direct scoring threat.
13 JIMMY DOYLE - (Tipperary; 3 awards 1963-65) - You just gave him the ball and he was deadly accurate. He was physically very slight, but he lived for hurling and was a scoring machine. He could drift into space and just put the ball over the bar.
14 JOE McKENNA - (Limerick; 6 awards 1974-75 and ‘79-81) - I played beside him for a long time and think his goal scoring has become overlooked. I remember him getting three goals in a Munster final and he was consistently dangerous over a sustained period.
15 EDDIE KEHER - (Kilkenny; 9 awards 1963-64, ‘66-67 and ‘71-75) - His scoring exploits speak for themselves – record championship scorer until surpassed by Shefflin and set a new mark for All-Ireland finals until edged out by Nicky English – and he did it at a time when there was far less protection for forwards.