By Gerard ‘Blaster’ Holden
Today Gerard Holden looks at his favourite 15 hurlers from Gort na Mona. A club stalwart with a lifelong involvement with the men from off the Mona Byepass, Gerard is well qualified to select his side.
Not everyone will agree with his selection. It’s just one man’s opinion. Just a bit of fun.
Gerard Holden’s ‘Favourite 15’ Hurlers.
Unlike some from the other club’s selections that have been contributed to this enjoyable “Best 15” idea I, as someone who played on Gort na Móna’s first ever Hurling team in 1974, have had the enjoyable experience of watching “all” of our club’s Hurling progress from the lower leagues and championships in the early eighties to becoming a Division 1 league and Senior championship team through the late 80s, 90s and into the noughties.
Therefore my team selection will be a mixture of those who played on our initial adult successful winning teams through to some players that I was fortunate enough to manage in more recent times. I am sure the majority of the younger players presently playing will have their day in the sun in the coming years when perhaps they will be selected on these best 15 teams by someone other than myself.
I have no doubt that “some” of the individuals that have hurled for our club over the years would not be out of place on most of the top hurling club teams. Some of the others on my selection are there not due to their great stick work or skill but more for their commitment, brawn and battling to get our club into top flight hurling.
We all have to remember that all of these hurling and football team selections are a personal opinion and are subjective (on another day I may pick a different team) but let us not take away from the fun, craic, debate but most of all the beautiful memories and friends that our association has rewarded us with over many, many years.
Like other clubs we have lost members but it would be remiss of me not to mention Chris Harte, Terry Enright, Patrick Kelly and Sean Quinn who were all not only first team players at the time of their deaths but each and every one of them were exceptional at the small ball game and had many, many years of playing to go, before they sadly met their eternal rest.
As a manager and a coach of this team I would like to think I brought forward the qualities and skills that picked up from managers and players in my hurling career from Gort na Móna right through to the senior level in the 1989 Antrim All Ireland Team. That includes Hurling Legend Jim Nelson, RIP.
1- Ciaran “Panzer” McCann – “Rossa’s Loss The Gorts’ Gain” – Panzer’s puckouts were straight as an arrow, great shot stopper and could also fill in at full back when required.
2- Rabby Clarke – One of the Brat pack. Hard as nails, hit like a train and his policy was “thy shall not pass”.
3- Eric Rainey – Another Gort gain from Rossa – Eric managed our club through our best early hurling years, maintaining division 1 and leading us through to senior championship. Bringing professionalism to our club we hadn’t seen before.
4- Dee French – 3 words to sum up Dee – Steady, Solid & Consistent.
5- Sean Hall – Very classy Hurler, shooting points from afar, accurate passing bringing corner forwards into play.
6- John Cousins – Dominated centre back for many years in Gort na Móna. Good clean classy hurler, from taking frees to scoring many a point.
7- Anto Harte – Half back player made it difficult for forwards to get past. Another steady, solid consistent player.
8- Thomas “Tucker” Doyle – Mr Gort na Móna!! Covering every blade of grass in Antrim. Couldn’t decide if he wanted to be the player or the ref on the pitch. J His free taking and side line cuts showed he was defo a better player than a ref J
9- Paul “Gazza” McClelland – “Total Athlete” If I was coaching today I would advise young player to watch how he trains and conducts himself on the pitch. Best quality was how he high fields the ball from the sky pure class.
10- Brendan “Nipper” Quinn – A high scoring forward. Not only hurled for The Gorts but for Antrim & Parnells in Dublin. Top class forward could take a knock but be sure to take a knock back.
11- Sean Kelly – Started to become a pattern where it was Rossa loses and Gorts gain. Another ex-county Hurler for many years. Hit the sliotar like a rocket. High scoring forward, that give centre backs nightmares.
12- Desy McClean – No ends to his hurling talent. Used the hurl like a magic wand. Broke many a back’s hearts. High return of points every game. Legend.
13- Patrick “Jolly washer” McCaffery – Bit lippy at times but his high return of scores made up for it J Versatile player who could switch from half forward to the middle of the park and change a game in the blink of an eye.
No Gort team would be complete without a member of the McCaffrey family in it.
14- Martin Flanagan – What a hurler! He played full back as well as full forward, hitting with strength, and pulling the ball out of the sky. Martin was a team player bringing other players into the game. Martin was also known for his top class coaching for our juvenile teams. Gort na Móna Legend.
15- Seamus “Hubba” Corr –Another full back’s nightmare. To this day I haven’t seen anyone strike a hurling ball with such power as Hubba did. Very high scoring forward who we were sure of would score 1-03 per game.
- Conor McCann
- Patrick Kelly
- Sean Quinn
- Robert Fisher
- Patrick “Long Puck” Holden
- Terry Fallon
Team Manager : Gerard “Blaster” Holden
Selectors: George Ferguson, Willie Mackel Snr, Greg “Fluff”
Pic from 1989 with some of those named. Back row: Ciaran Panzer McCann is first from left; Martin Flanagan is fifth from left; John Cousins is sixth from left; Front row: Seamus Hubba Corr is first from left; Anto Harte is second from left; Dee French is third from left; Eric Rainey is fourth from left; Gerard Blaster Holden is sixth from left. Also, Terry Fallon is front row seventh from left; Patrick Holden is front row third from right; George Ferguson is back row first from right