My Favourite 15 – O’Donovan Rossa

By Sean Fleming

This is my Rossa hurling team. As I said only my opinion. It is a Rossa team spanning over 40 years of watching.

This is only my opinion. I have been watching Rossa Senior hurlers from around 1974. The Rossa teams in the 1970’s were very strong and those early impressions have influenced my selection. Every player on the team have also represented Antrim. This is a team of players I enjoyed watching over the years and if we’re able to play together on the one team at the same time would be a match for anybody.

1 – Paddy Quinn
Goalkeeper. Won championship medals as a mid-fielder but was converted to a keeper very late in his career. Paddy played a vital role in the clubs run to the All Ireland Club Final in 1989. Also worth a mention is former Club Chairman Noel Carabine RIP who spent many years as net minder.

2 – Gerard Rogan
A very committed player. Big Rogie played with distinction for club and county. He was comfortable anywhere along the full back line. A dual player with senior championship medals in football and hurling. Gerard went on to have a career in County management.

3 – Éamon Hamill
Captain of the team. A natural born leader who controlled the square and all the players around him. Eamon continued to influence after he stopped playing through coaching and serving as the Club Treasurer for a period.

4 – Brian Gormley
An elegant hurler. He used his height and reach to great effect. A forward never got an easy day when Brian was marking them.

5 – Micky Kettle
Great servant on the pitch for both club and County. Never let the club down with his performance. An excellent defender.

6 – Sean Collins
Loved watching him when I was growing up and he would not have been out of place on any county team in Ireland. A brilliant striker of the ball and had every stroke and skill in the game. He loved taking a penalty.

7 – Chris McGuinness
Captained the club to All Ireland Club Intermediate success in Croke Park. Not tall in stature but big in heart, drive and commitment, allied with a high level of skill. Still playing.

8 – Jim Connolly
Great hand and a natural midfielder. Covered the ground and very capable of taking long range points. Captained the club to Volunteer Cup success in 2004.

9 – Jim Fegan
Had everything any midfielder in any era needed to play the game. Skill, fitness, bravery and game awareness were all major strengths.

10 – Mark Reynolds
Perhaps for some a strange position to find Mark Reynolds as he played most of his senior career as an uncompromising defender but I had to include him and since he played in the forward line when he and I played on a winning minor championship team I can justify his inclusion in the half forward line. One thing for certain his marker would know he was in a game.

11 – Ciaran Barr
Best catcher of the sliotar I have seen. Big, strong and skillful. A great communicator and leader and has the honour of being Antrim’s first All Star. Captained Antrim in the 1989 All Ireland Final.

12 – Jim Close
Can play anywhere on the pitch. Played Full Back on the 2004 championship win and midfield during the Club All Ireland Final in 1989 as a teenager. One of the toughest players any opponent will have ever faced. Put in countless Man of the Match performances throughout his career for both club and county.

13 – Aidan Hamill
The best all round Rossa player I have seen. Equally gifted in both football and hurling. Won club senior championship medals in both hurling and football, All Ireland winners medals at various codes in football and hurling. Aidan would have been a star in any team during any era. My favourite Rossa player.

14 – Michael Armstrong
I have coached Michael since he was 7 years old. His name meant he had pressure on him to be a performer and he has never let anyone down. Fully committed with an abundance of talent. Has represented the county in both codes at senior level. Confident that his fielding ability at the edge of the opponents square would bring many opportunities to this team.

15 – Donal Armstrong
Father of Michael and a star from an early age. Like his two team mates in the full forward line Donal was a dual star for the County, including playing and scoring in the 1989 All Ireland Final v Tipperary. Donal was always a target for the opposition but it never prevented him from getting the score.

Subs

16 – Chris Hamill
A major player for the club during a time when we struggled to achieve success. Chris was an excellent free taker but contributed so much more with his general play.

17 – Colly Murphy
Loved scoring goals and did it on a regular basis. Could fit in at wing forward or anywhere along the full forward line.

18 – Rory Galway
Another player from the 70’s and early 80’s. Great free taker and ball playing forward. Played during a time when defenders were a little more uncompromising but still managed to be a top scorer for both club and county.

19 – Gavin Bell
Was a star of the teams he played on throughout his career. Loved a challenge. Can be played anywhere from 2 to 9 and even was used at 11 and 14 during his time.

20 – Seamus Shannon
A real team player who always wore his heart on his sleeve and expected all around him to do the same.

Some notable players not to make the 20 are the four Muurray brothers, Paul Close, Jim Reilly, Sean Mighty’ Quinn ( He won matches by himself for juvenile teams I played on). There are many more but someone else will name them on their team.

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