Dream 15 of hurlers who never won Liam MacCarthy 2 months ago

Dream 15 of hurlers who never won Liam MacCarthy

They might be minus a medal but they still left a legacy and plenty of memories.

Like the majors in golf and tennis, having an All-Ireland to your name is often viewed as the be-all and end-all for GAA players.


Like the GAA's official acid test, the holy grail will always hold weight but still, the idea that one can't attain greatness without it isn't accurate either.

Better a near miss than a lifetime away.

As the more accurate saying goes, the destination is just as important as the journey and while these lads might not have made it to the promised land, they created plenty of colourful, iconic and heroic memories on their travels.

Out of respect to the players still playing the game, this is a 15 of the best (retired) players of the last 25 years never to win an All-Ireland senior hurling inter-county medal.


1 Stephen O'Keeffe (Waterford)

There's talk that Davy Fitz might convince him back into the fold and it would be a fair boost for Waterford. Shaun O'Brien did have a brilliant year last year in O'Keeffe's absence, but the Ballygunner man does have legitimate claims to be one of the best ever.

To beat him, there's no point in saying otherwise, you have to hit the perfect shot.


Stephen O'Keeffe Credit: Sportsfile

2 Rory Hanniffy (Offaly)

Did most of his hurling in the half back line, but the Birr club man was such a tidy, astute hurler that he could have played in any position on the field.


3 Darragh Ryan (Wexford)

A tall, physical and crafty presence on the edge of the square, the St Anne's club man was a colossus for Wexford hurling for many years.

A mean defender who strode out from the last line with pace and with purpose, he never made it past the last four but was deservedly honoured with an All-Star in 2001.


4 Ollie Canning (Galway)

If any man verifies the prospects of greatness without having a Celtic Cross, then it's Ollie Canning.

The Portumna club man began his Galway career as a corner forward believe it or not, before retreating around the year 2000. He would become one of the most respected number fours in the game, winning four All-Stars and leaving many a corner forward broken and dumbfounded!

5 Ciaran Carey (Limerick)

Just like Canning, a tireless, fearless, warrior who became one of the finest hurlers of a generation.

6 Ken McGrath (Waterford)

A cannon-ball released into the half back line who hurled with abandon and with emotion for his county. A free spirit on the field, McGrath was one of the finest centre backs the game has ever seen.

7 Terence McNaughton (Antrim)

One of the best hurlers Antrim has ever produced, 'Sambo' was a giant for Ruairí Óg and for his county. Won an All-Star in 1991 and hurled with distinction for sixteen years in the saffron and white.

8 Tony Browne (Waterford)

Longevity and enduring greatness. The perfect mix. Browne toed the Waterford line for years and he always brought cuteness and power to his hurling.

Up until his inter-county retirement at... 40.

9 Gary Kirby (Limerick)

Won two leagues and two Munster championships with the Treaty and the Patrickswell man was always a driving force every step of the way.

10 Damien Hayes (Galway)

A three-time All-Star, Hayes is a man often under-rated in these discussions. One of those hearty forwards who'd run through a wall to get on the ball.

He'd do it quickly too, leaving defenders behind reeling. Always a good man for two or three scores a game, goals included.

11 Dan Shanahan (Waterford)

Dan the man was a three-time All-Star and he was also the Hurler of the year in 2007. A passionate, colourful character with a lethal eye for goal.

Strong in the air, a powerful runner, he was very hard to stop at full throttle.

12 Michael 'Brick' Walsh (Waterford)

Under-rated by many but he never let Waterford down. And was a key cog for the guts of 17 years, up until his retirement in 2019.

13 John Mullane (Waterford)

Had everything you wanted in a corner forward and he always led the fight for the Déise. Fast, skilful, accurate and he had that bit of cut in him too.

14 Paul Flynn (Waterford)

Like his partner up top O'Shaughnessy, Flynn could drive the ball miles with unerring accuracy and searing power. He may not have been the quickest but he made up for it with his ball-control and wizardry.

15 Tony Griffin (Clare)

A prolific goalscorer during Clare's lean years, Griffin ended his career with 10-66, and won an All-Star in 2006.