With games getting under way at the weekend and a full list of fixtures pretty much every day since we have had to suspend our ‘Favourite 15’ hurling feature but we intend to continue it whenever possible and hopefully post the ‘Favourite 15’ hurlers of every club in the county.
At present we have submissions from Armoy, Lamh Dhearg, All Saints and Glenravel waiting for publication but a number of clubs have yet to submit their ‘Favourite 15’ There’s still time so if you would like to send your submissions and any photographs you may have to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com we will get them up on the site over the next few weeks.
Today we look at the favourite 15 from Michael Davitt’s as selected by one of the clubs legends, Joe de Meulemeester. Not everyone will agree with his selection. It’s just one man’s opinion. Just a bit of fun!
“NINETEEN FIFTIES” to the “NOUGHTIES”
The Chairman, having recently, so eloquently highlighted the Footballers that represented the Club with great distinction, has now handed the baton to me, to provide my recollections of those that played the real game “Hurling”.
Unfortunately, hurling in the Davitts during this period, took a back seat to the football and as result the hurlers struggled to get out of the Junior ranks. We did however achieve Intermediate status for a period and in fact we were beaten in the “ Intermediate Championship Final” by St.Galls in the eighties. Hurling in the Club has however taken a massive step forward in the last six or seven years and we now have half a dozen teenagers who at this stage of their development are way ahead of anyone who has previously played for the Club. Hopefully they will continue to progress over the next few years and will help bring Davitts Hurlers into the Senior ranks, because we have an Under 12 team coming behind them that are fantastic and of course we now have the facilities to enable them to reach their full potential.
I have not however considered them for selection in my “Best Fifteen”, I am more inclined towards those players that brought us to Intermediate level in the eighties, despite the lack of facilities. The young lads will have their recognition in the future.
Two “Superstars” of the Fifties, Phonsie “Red” McVeigh and “Big Rab” McCann who I think I can remember playing alongside, against Wolf Tones on the Whitewell Road, were players who could never be omitted from any Davitts hurling team
Best 15 Hurling
By Joe de Meulemeester
1 Frank McKay
A good reliable shot stopper, Frank held this position for many years
2 Martin Tully
Martin is a multi-talented sportsman, he played Minor Football for the County and was a Boxing Champion and a great Hurler
3 “Big Rab” McCann
A colossus of a man on the edge of the square. Rab Captained the Belfast Primary School Team that defeated their Dublin counterparts
4 Eugene Gallagher
Hard as nails, just like his Dad who was the Antrim and St Johns corner back for years. Nobody getting past here!
5 Sean Og Prenter
Sean was an all-round steady player, great ball striker, consistently knocking points over from the middle of the park.
6 Tony Loughran
Natural Centre- Half, very strong in the air and always in control of the situation.
7 Gary Nelson
Grandson of Jim, easy to see that he was born with a hurl in his hands. Fabulous first touch.
8 Martin Mooney
“Shiner” was a great reader of the game, always in the right place, always looking for someone to pass the ball to, never wasted possession.
9 Joe de Meulemeester
“Modesty” forbids me telling you how good I was. Let’s just say I played for 50 years and loved every minute.
10 Mickey Topping
Top Class hurler, Michael was on the Antrim development squads from he was Under 14. Unfortunately we had to keep chasing after him to get him to play ( and we did, and he did ) but he was a great talent and could have been so much better.
11 Phonsie McVeigh
“Red” was on the verge of retirement when I became part of the Club, so I didn’t get to witness his greatness, but he was a “Legend” according to the “auld hands” back then.
12 Stephen Brady
Another all-round sportsman, Stephen played on the County Football Team, dedicated, quick,, tricky, always eager for possession, never stopped running. Still the same on the handball court today.
13 Paddy O’Neill
Great player all over the park, I struggled as to where best to slot him in, for he could have played anywhere and did, Centre-half, Centre-three quarters, but he had an eye for a score and hit (3-3) in the no. 13 shirt in the Junior Hurling Championship Final in Casement Park in 1979
14 Terry Fallon
Terry at full-forward was a luxury we could seldom afford, he was generally more needed out the field. A Fireman by trade he was very fit, very strong and fearless, an ideal no.14
15 Jackie Loughran
Jackie read the game well, attacked the ball and was very adept at picking off a few points
A Few Players that I found very difficult to leave out
Bobby Reilly was one of the elders on the team when my generation of players joined the Club in the early fifties. Bobby retained his playing status for many years after that. He was a very organised player and he taught us and encouraged us so much
Bobbys son Robin was a very good hurler but I imagine Robin always counted himself more of a footballer
My brother Pat de Meulemeester played alongside me at midfield for at least 10 years. Pat like myself was only about 5 feet 5ins. But he still managed to play Basketball for the Ulster Schools Team because of his ability to man-mark. I could always depend on him to cover for me when I went chasing off after the ball. I miss him dearly.
Nishy Lewsley, played Senior Hurling with Sarsfields and obviously the experience gained there stood him in good stead when playing in the Junior ranks with Davitts. I don’t know how he didn’t get on my team.
Seamus Hurley from the same generation as myself, partnered me at midfield through our juvenile years, left the country as a young man and when he returned his chance was gone.
One other player that it would be remiss of me not to mention for he was a great talent, is Dee Manning who “emigrated” to Galway as a teenager, Top Class player, potential unfulfilled.