Lámh Dhearg ‘Best 15’

Today we look at Lamh Dhearg ‘Best 15’ as seen through the eyes of a stalwart who has requested to remain anonymous. He has produced a strong looking side. Not everyone will agree with his selection but remember it’s only one man’s opinion. ‘It’s just a bit of fun!’

A well-known Lámh Dhearg club-man (Who requested to remain anonymous) has selected his ‘Best 15’ footballers – stretching from the late 60s to present day and has submitted his team to me and probably has had the advice of a few others from the ditch in Hannahstown.

He said it was one of the most difficult tasks he has ever faced because Lámh Dhearg have a strong pedigree of producing top quality footballers down through the generations. This team has a wealth of county and provincial experience and has a very strong physical presence as well. I’m sure the selection will set the hills ablaze with discussions and maybe counter teams produced or selected.

1-John Finucane – An outstanding custodian for the club over the last 15-years. Commands great presence in the square and is a great organiser of the defence in front of him always inspiring them with confidence. Displays super leadership as the captain, very articulate, agile, athletic, good fielder of the high ball and a tremendous shot stopper. Always displays great bravery and courage. Fantastic long range kicker and in the last few years has scored some crucial a la Cluxton 45’s.

2-Michael ‘Micko’ Herron – an outstanding athlete and talented dual player. Always very fit and very professional in his approach and preparation. A very versatile player and could adapt to any position with aplomb. Very skilful footballer, a good fielder and shows great game perception and an astute reader of the game. An inspirational player and a natural leader. He was very accurate when he played upfront and in defence he revels in the role of picking up loose ball, marshalling the defence well and would the first to use his athleticism to initiate attacks.

3-John McKiernan – a colossal player, physically strong and athletic and a fantastic fielder of the ball. A powerhouse. A great striker of a long range free or 45’s. A whole hearted and committed player who played with the heart on his sleeve and would of went through a brick wall to gain possession. Very versatile and could play any position.  An inspirational player and such a committed and discipline trainer. His pedigree was clearly reflected having successfully distinguished careers with Queens, Antrim and Ulster. 

4-Jackie Duffy – A back with real power and technique and classy decision making. He combined great physique with skill to dominate any opponent. He was one of the first corner backs to track forward into attack and then race back to his position when needed. He took no nonsense; he was a rock solid defender and one of the first names on the team sheet. An iconic figure in the club.

5-Dominic McCann – If you were going into battle Dominic “Banana” was the man you needed. Teak tough he was one of the finest man markers ever to put on the Lámh Dhearg jersey.

Committed in training, focused on the pitch, he gave 100% every game. A real iron man of the defence who had great positional skill which gave him an edge every game. A tigerish committed player who wanted to win every tackle, every game.

 6-Gerard ‘Rooster’ McCague – He was the strong central lynch pin of the defence. His natural skills allowed him to dominate his position and opponents in equal measure. He was a truly graceful defender always had time on the ball, and one of the firsts dead ball specialists. He could knock over 50.s in his sleep. He was disciplined, self-confident, and a leader .A huge loss to the club when he emigrated to Australia.

7-Declan Lynch – A very fit and mobile player with good pace, very skilful and strong on the ball and always poses a threat to any team with his powerful surging runs from defence. Capable of breaking down blanket defences and always taking a score.  A very tight marker and can be a very effective man marker when delegated the role. A good tackler and very intelligent always showing good decision making. An inspirational player with good leadership qualities personified by being current county captain.

8-JP O’Kane – He has everything you needed in a player. An outstanding, talented footballer, a powerful athlete who knew how to perform no matter the circumstances. Peerless on his day, he had the perfect combination of power and ability. He could pluck the ball out of the clouds and on the way down know exactly who was getting the ball in the forward line. His talent was recognised at county and Ulster level. Simply the best.

9-Frank ‘The Bull’ Fitzsimons snr – Frank was the true engine room of the teams. Majestic in the air- he commanded the midfield every game he played. His consistency every game was remarkable and he combined that with enthusiasm, skill and tenacity to never shirk a tackle or battle on the pitch. He was central to the team in the tough hard to win games, where he combined his skills and vision to always steer the team home to victory. Not for nothing he is still fondly remembered today as Mr Lámh Dhearg and a colourful personality.

10- Conor Murray – An outstanding footballer, very athletic, industrious and skilful. An unbelievable fielder of the ball and can jump to some height. Fantastic at taking spectacular long range scores and a super target man. Very strong runner with ball and always provides an outlet from defence. A very accurate and precise passer of the ball. Conor is also excellent in controlling the game to suit the pace of the team. He is a great servant to county as well as the club and a colourful character in the dressing room.

11- Sean McQullian – One of the classiest players this club has ever seen. A maestro on the pitch, he pulled the strings and made the team play like champions. He was a naturally gifted player with no weaknesses. He was a superb striker of the ball with either foot and had the skill of all great players in that he always seemed to have the time and space to make things happen. He lit up the field every time he graved it and he was without peers in his role in the Number 11 jersey. If ever we had a Lionel Messi in the club it was Sean McQuillan. A great talent, a great person and a great loss through emigration to the success of the team.

12- Cyril  “Horse” Jordan – Cyril simply made magic happen on the pitch. He was the central play maker, the man who orchestrated the scores and go-to player when things got tight on the pitch.  He had an uncanny sense of everyone’s position on the pitch and his unerring passes dropped into the player’s hands with no effort. He was one of the clubs thoroughbreds, said little but did all his talking on the pitch. He had mobility, speed and could turn on a sixpence. He was a true, classy, stylish half-forward, a great all-round player and a truly great club man.

13- Paddy Cunningham jnr – top class forward and a fantastic servant to club and county. Very intelligent and skilful and astute at creating space and gaining possession- despite close attention of defences. He has been top scorer for the club and county for many years and consistently scores points from any angle and always a handful for any defender. Without a doubt, one of the best free-taking corner-forwards in the county and country. His accuracy is impressive and unerring and is equally adept at using both feet. Has a great eye for goal and a cool and clinical penalty taker.

14- Sean McElhatton – A tall and stylish full forward whose physique, athleticism and intelligence posed many problems for defences. Great fielder of the ball and an effective target man who could take scores or cutely bring other forwards into the game. Had the versatility and ability also to play outfield when the need arose. He was very professional in his preparations and training which set the foundations to be a successful and respected coach at club, college and county. Successful college career with the Ranch and Tyrone.

15- Ryan Murray – a very fast and livewire forward, superb ball winner and his turn of pace is a constant thorn in any of the defences he plays against. Like Conor, he can also score long range points and has a deadly eye for goal. Even though diminutive in stature- he is good in the air and extremely brave and brilliant at winning possession. A very skilful and wholehearted player who can also roam out the field effectively to help consolidate control of the game.

 *It was just as hard to pick a subs bench which would be laden with quality of accomplished, talented and skilful footballers such as Mickey Boyle, Paddy Cunningham senior, Brendan Herron, Pat McCambridge and Terry McCrudden senior. These guys could easily make the team of any other club in the county.

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