80's stars: football team of the decade chosen

September 09, 2013

The late Dermot Earley. INPHO
The GAA has confirmed the selection of its Football 'Stars of the '80s' team which will be honoured on All-Ireland Football final day on Sunday September 22 when Dublin meet Mayo at Croke Park.

After back-to-back winners Meath (1987-88) were honoured at last year's final the GAA has availed of the opportunity to acknowledge a specially chosen team deemed to be best 15 footballers from the 1980s who did not win All-Ireland senior medals.

All of those included in the final 15 were deemed to have made special contributions to the GAA through outstanding performances over prolonged periods.

Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Liam Ó Néill congratulated those chosen and welcomed the opportunity to highlight their skills and dedication to a new audience of football followers.

He said: "This year we were presented with the unique opportunity to honour top footballers from the 1980s having had both the 1987 and '88 Meath All-Ireland winning teams with us on All-Ireland day last year.

"I am delighted to see this collection of players from no less than 11 counties who were chosen by a team of respected journalists who covered games these men played in.

"All of them graced our pitches with distinction and in so doing made valued contributions to the GAA. In the process many of them became household names who inspired those around them including young players to take up our games in an effort to emulate their skills.

"I thank them for their dedication and commitment and look forward to welcoming them to Croke Park on Sunday week for the All-Ireland Football final."

The team is as follows:

1. Brian McAlinden (Armagh / Sarsfields)

First-choice goalkeeper with Armagh from 1976 until late 80's. Won 4 Railway Cup medals and in 1986 was reserve 'keeper for the International Rules series in Australia. Formerly joint county manager with Brian Canavan.

2. Harry Keegan (Roscommon / Castlerea)

Regarded as one of the greatest corner backs to play with Roscommon, he was named on their 'Best Team of the Last 25 years.' Won Allstar awards in 1978, 1980 and 1986.

3. Kevin Kehilly (Cork / Newcestown)

Played in 1974 and 1983 All-Ireland semi-finals with Cork. Winner of five Railway Cup medals and an Allstar in 1980 and 1982. Was trainer with Cork's treble-winning hurling team of the seventies.

4. Seamus McHugh (Galway / Headford)

Made senior debut with Galway in 1975 and captained team in the 1983 All-Ireland final. An Allstar winner in 1981 and 1984, he played eight games in the International Rules Series, including the inaugural Australian tour in 1986.

5. Jim Reilly (Cavan / Kingscourt)

A household name in Cavan all through the eighties, he played in all three tests in the 1987 International Rules Series. He won Railway Cup medals in 1983, 1984 and 1989.

6. Ciaran Murray (Monaghan / Clones)

Member of the Monaghan team which won the League title in 1985, he played six games in the International Rules series. An Allstar award winner in 1985, in later years he gained notoriety as physiotherapist to the Irish soccer team.

7. Colm Browne (Laois / Portlaoise)

Won an All-Ireland club medal in 1983 and Railway Cup medals in 1985, 1986 and 1987 - when he played in the final test against Australia. Won an Allstar award in 1986 and managed Laois and Tipperary.

8. Dermot Earley (Roscommon / Michael Glaveys/Sarsfields, Newbridge, RIP)

Played with Roscommon for twenty years and is regarded as one of the greatest footballers never to win an All-Ireland, A member of the last Connacht team to win the Railway Cup in 1969, he won the county's first Allstar in 1974 and another in 1979. Managed Roscommon and Kildare.

9. Willie Joe Padden (Mayo / Belmullet)

Voted fourth best ever midfielder in a national poll, he was especially renowned for his high-fielding ability. Won an Allstar in 1985 and another in 1989, when he played with Mayo in the All-Ireland final.

10. Peter McGinnity (Fermanagh / Roslea)

Won county medals in his native Fermanagh and Antrim - lining out with St. John's in the 1978 All-Ireland club final. Winner of Railway Cup medals in 1979, 1980, 1983 and 1984 and the county's first Allstar winner in 1982. Co-commentator with BBC Ulster in their TV coverage.

11. Eugene McKenna (Tyrone / Augher)

Tyrone's captain in their first All-Ireland senior final appearance in 1986, he won an Allstar award in 1984, 1986 and 1989 and won Railway Cup medals in 1983, 1984 and 1989. Involved with Art McRory in the management of the county team in the late 90's.

12. Kevin O'Brien (Wicklow / Baltinglass)

Played four times for Ireland, including the tour to Australia in 1990 - when he was Wicklow's first Allstar recipient and won an All-Ireland club medal. A Railway Cup medal-winner in 1986 and 1996, he was a selector with Mick O'Dwyer.

13. Eugene 'Nudie' Hughes (Monaghan / Castleblaney)

Monaghan's first Allstar in 1979 and again honoured in 1985 and 1988 - one of a select group to win awards in defence and attack. Member of NFL-winning side of 1985 and Railway Cup winner in 1980, 1983 and 1984.

14. Frank McGuigan (Tyrone / Ardboe)

A legend in Tyrone, forever remembered for his 0-11 in the 1984 Ulster final, he won an Allstar and Railway Cup medal the same year. Captain in the 1972 All-Ireland minor final, he played in the senior semi-final the following year. Career interrupted when he spent several years in the US and ended prematurely by a serious injury.

15. Tony McManus (Roscommon / Clan na nGael)

An All-Ireland Under-21 medal winner with Roscommon in 1978. Won six Connacht senior medals and a key figure in his club's pre-eminence in the province in the 80's. An Allstar winner in 1989, he won three Sigerson Cup medals with UCD.

At the invitation of the GAA the final selection as listed above was chosen by an experienced panel of All-Star and former All-Star selectors who covered Gaelic games for the print and broadcast media during the 1980s.

The selection panel consisted of: Martin Breheny (Irish Independent); Brian Carthy (RTÉ Radio); Michael Lyster (RTÉ Television); Seán Moran (Irish Times); Mártan Ó Ciardha (formerly Raidió na Gaeltachta); Jim O'Sullivan (formerly Irish Examiner).

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