My Favourite 15’ – Tir na nOg’ by Nicky Bones

Today we look at Nicky Bonnes, favourite 15 Tír na nÓg hurlers. Nicky is an active member of the club and current senior Camogie manager.

Nicky made his debut for Tír na nÓg Seniors as a 17 year old against Glenarm in 1992 who were then a very strong Intermediate side. 

If your club has not submitted a ‘Favourite 15’ hurlers we would appeal to you to appoint someone to select their ‘Favourite 15’ and send it to john.mcilwaine@yahoo.co.uk or to ptrckmclwn@yahoo.co.uk

Nicky Bonnes Favourite 15 hurlers

“The following favourite 15 player should probably have more players from the 1985 Junior championship winning team but I didn’t play with them, so all the players (apart from Colm Martin) have played senior hurling from 1992 to the present day. During that time the team went from playing in the lower leagues against Mitchel’s in Poleglass to the highly competitive Division 2 against the likes of Rossa and Portaferry. The team also played in three Junior championship finals, winning one, won an Ulster League championship and also lost one. They were promoted three times due to winning the league or a league restructure.”

My favourite 15 from 1992- present (Nicky Bonnes)

1- Rudi Graham- very dependable goalkeeper who had great hands and pin point accuracy with puck outs. His ability to pull off unbelievable saves always lifted the team and the crowd. Just keeps out Johnny McGuckian and Leo Heatley. 

2- Colm Martin- lots of defenders to choose from but ‘Sam’ gets the nod for his unswerving commitment to promoting the game at the club over the last 30-35 years. He has coached numerous players and always coached the game to be played in the proper manner and correct spirit. Many players owe a great debt to Colm and Jim McNally RIP. 

3- Sean Devlin- (Beamers) mountain of a man at full back who was unbeatable under a high ball. I learned a lot from positioning watching the maestro at play. When he called ‘my ball’ invariably very few stood a chance. 

4- Colm Hassan- teak tough defender who left it all out on the pitch. No nonsense on the pitch, absolute gentleman off it. 

5- Daryl Heatley RIP- Rolls Royce of a player. Had it all, skill, vision and stick work. Impeccable reader of a game. Captained the Junior championship winning team in 2002. 

6- Colm Duffin- Represented the county in various positions and has consistently been one of the top performers over the past 20 years. Can play any position to the highest of standards. Delivered a rousing speech as captain after the Ulster League final win over Lisbellaw in 2013.

7- Caoimhin Duffin- quiet, unassuming player who always does the simple things right. Distribution of the ball is one of the strongest aspects of his game and always had a knack of popping up in the right position to drive another attack. 

8- Phelim McCloskey- definitely the least skilful player of this 15, but what he lacked in skill he made up for in determination and strength. Provided the required ‘steel’ and made no apologies for it. Powerhouse midfield player with great leadership qualities. 

9- Tommy Devlin- could have played in any number of positions. Strong under the high ball and came up with big performances in championship games, hitting vital scores when backs were against the ball. 

10- Vincent Martin- absolute flying machine who would always take the game to the opposition. Blistering pace and unselfish play would prove decisive in many games during his career. 

11- Michael Magill- without a doubt the best player over the last 30 years.  Had it all and would rise to the occasion for club and county. Probably played best out on the wing however this team should be built around him. 

12- Kevin Sheerin- ‘Skimper’ has consistently produced the goods over the past 15 years. Deadly accurate free taker and excellent under the high ball. 

13- Rory Bonnes- deadly forward who will always remembered for scoring a wonder goal to win the last championship final win in 2002. Had broken his ankle earlier in the year and came off the bench to inspire a famous victory over St. Brigid’s, Cloughmills. 

14- Antony Brady- (Gubba) small in stature but big in heart. Low centre of gravity and a quick turn of pace bamboozled many defenders. Knowledge of the game and ability to influence games made him a game changer. 

15- Shane Donnelly- affectionately known as ‘Animal,’ set up countless attacks by dropping the shoulder and could beat any player. One of the best players in the league when he was at his peak.  Unplayable when he was in form. 

Mentions 

No Tír na nÓg hurling team is complete without mentioning the great Vincent Kerr. He would walk into any team however he misses out as he hasn’t played in the last 30 years. Still deserves an honourable mention. 

Brendan ‘Ennie’ Kerr- tenacious defender is unlucky to miss out on the starting 15 but would do a job covering anywhere in defence. 

Mark McConnon- went to Ballycastle and had a successful time there. Briefly returned in 2001 but had retired before the championship win in 2002. Strong player who represented the county. 

Sean Duffin- Sean shows all the promise and definitely has what it takes to be one of the top players for the next generation of players. Has been unlucky with injuries. Currently represents the county at senior level. 

Christy Sheerin – magnificent fielder of the ball. Tactically and technically very gifted. Injuries and the pressures of being a dual player affected the amount of service he could provide.

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