Our ‘Favorite 15’ hurlers feature has been interupted by the return to league and championship action following the lockdown but we intend to continue the series whenever opportunity presents itself. We have a number of clubs sitting ready on draft but there are a few clubs who have not yet made their submissions. If you haven’t yet done so please send us your ‘Favourite 15’ hulers asap and we will get it up over the coming weeks.
Paddy Neeson’s All Saints ‘Favourite 15’ hurlers
Today Paddy Neeson picks his ‘Favorite 15’ hurlers from All Saints, Ballymena. Paddy has given a lifetime of service to hurling in Ballymena as a player, manager and coach and is responsible for the development of many of the young hurlers who have recently made the breakthrough to senior level.
You may not agree with his selection. It’s just one man’s opinion. Just a bit of fun!
1. Sean Magee
Great reflexes, ball stopper and puck outs delivered with the accuracy of an exocet. Kept in constant communication with his backs and also provided “advice” to the forward lines if required.
2. Martin McGarry
A strong player and ball winner. Martin played in various positions over the years but is selected at corner back because of his powerful strike which he used to good effect with a no nonsense approach when clearing ball from danger.
3. Sean McCormick
Rock solid, teak tough, with the confidence and skill to attack and win ball. Never got involved in confrontations, led by example and let his hurling do the talking.
4. Seamus Crummey
There would be no All Saints hurling without Seamus Crummey. As well as being a star performer in the first “adult” team, he kept a watching eye on younger players. In the days when a fifteen year old could play senior it was comforting to know that he had your back. More of a natural forward he could slot into any position and is included in the back line due to his guardianship role.
5. Gerry Maybin
He wore the No 5 shirt for so long it seemed as if it was imprinted on his back like a tattoo. “Thou shall not pass” was his motto – few did without receiving a “souvenir” for their efforts.
6. Donal Carey
An athletic and astute reader of the game, he excelled at being in the right place at the right time to block attacks and intercept incoming ball. Invariably followed up his ball winning ability with intelligent distribution. Ice cool when taking frees.
7. Dominic Downey
The left side of All Saints’ “Hell’s Kitchen” from the last century.
A ferocious tackler and ball winner – the personification of uncompromising determination.
8. Dermot McCloskey
Very stylish hurler who orchestrated things in the middle of the park so that backs and forwards played in harmony. Comfortable striking from either side, from the hand or on the ground meant he could keep the game flowing with flair and an economy of effort.
9. Liam Cassley
Athletic, versatile, as equally effective in support of his backs or as a springboard to set up attacks. A full armory of skills backed up with a willingness to graft made him a great leader on and off the pitch who never asked anyone to do anything he wouldn’t, or couldn’t, do himself.
10. Damian Gillan
An insatiable appetite for work combined with a raft of skills make him a natural leader. Over the Covid lockdown he stood up to the plate by providing support and motivation to teammates to keep in shape by setting fitness goals and tracking progress. With easing of restrictions and return to play he is continuing this leadership role and setting example on the pitch.
11. Ciaran Neeson
Fearless under a dropping ball with a great catch – described as “a hand like a shovel” in Limerick hurling circles. A deft first touch, slippery as an eel with an assassin’s eye for goal combine to make a serious scoring threat. Deadly from frees.
12. Jock McKay
Dedicated athlete with silky skills combined with a deceptively teak tough core who could take a hit, dust it off and carry on regardless. Very intelligent, a great reader of the game and totally unselfish – willing to do the hard work to win ball, create space and lay off a pass to a lesser mortal in a better position. In his playing days a great captain and when he hung up his boots a respected manager, he has always been a true gentleman.
13. Enda Casey
An imposing forward well able to win ball and take a score but also used his height and strength to break down 50/50 ball for teammates to latch on to. Recently hung up his boots and is the current senior team manager
14. Stevie McAfee
A traditional full forward who once he got the ball in his hand had only one thought – to head for goal. A tour de force of power and strength capped off with a whip like wristy swing was often rewarded by the sight of an opposition keeper stooping to retrieve a smoking sliotar from a rattling net. Often defenders missed the coup de grace as they lay scattered unceremoniously like skittles in his wake – old school hurling!
15. Sean O’Kane
A versatile hurler who gave his heart and soul in a long playing career where he lined out at almost every position. Picked in the full forward line because he is the best exponent of scoring with an overhead flick that I have witnessed. A skill that requires concentration, positional sense, physical strength, precision timing, excellent stick work and supreme self-confidence. If you pull it off you’re applauded as a genius if you mess it up you risk derision – Sean was a genius.