An Post GAA Hurling Team of the Millennium
July 25, 2000
A new set of stamps which honour the game of hurling and its greatest players goes on sale next week following the announcement on Monday, July 24 of the An Post - GAA Hurling Team of the Millennium. The team was chosen by a panel of experts nominated by the Association.
The stamps, in a single sheetlet, show contemporary portraits of the 15 players - four from Kilkenny, three from Tipperary and Cork, two from Wexford and one each from Offaly, Limerick and Waterford - selected by the panel of former Presidents of the GAA and journalists.
GAA President Sean McCague, announced the Hurling Team of the Millennium, and portraits of the team members and the new stamps were displayed. They will be on sale in single sheetlet form at all post offices from Tuesday next, August 2. The stamp issue is part of the An Post millennium issue.
An Post Chairman Stephen O'Connor presided at the unveiling of the stamps at a function in Croke Park. As with the 1999 issue of the Football Team of the Millennium, the stamps show the players in the county jerseys of their period.
Mr O'Connor said the selectors had chosen a team whose membership encompassed the range of skills for which the game of hurling was renowned. Every player chosen was or is a superb hurler who had brought enormous credit to the game and pleasure to all who watched him.
He added "Hurling heroes yield nothing to the stars of any game. They are local heroes but much more. They carry the dreams born in our native parish. They are celebrated during their careers and the memories of their achievements and exploits endure long after they have moved on. We are delighted to celebrate them and the game of hurling in these handsome stamps."
Mr O'Connor added that An Post was delighted to work with the GAA to honour the game of hurling. He also expressed gratitude to Independent Newspapers for their contribution to raising public awareness of the publication of the stamps and hurlers of the past.
Mr. McCague, said that the selection of the An Post/GAA Hurling Team of the Millennium was an exercise in celebrating not just the Pantheon of Greats, but all hurlers who have played the game through the ages. He added that inevitably there would be passionate debate on the merits of players, both included and excluded from the selection but this was the essence of all such teams.
The portraits used for the stamps were created from contemporary images by Cork artist Finbarr O'Connor. The stamps were designed by FOR Design. The First Day issue presentation pack is illustrated and contains pen pictures by Michael O'Muircheartaigh of the players chosen.
When on sale, the stamps will be available in a range of combinations and prices. The full 15 stamp sheetlet showing the chosen team in their one to fifteen field positions is priced in the 30p denomination and will cost a total of £4.50.
In coming weeks, a range of souvenir packs and stamp booklets, based on the county or counties of the team members, will also be available at post offices throughout the country and also for hurling fans overseas and international collectors.
An Post GAA Hurling Team
of the Millennium
Tony Reddin (Tipperary)
Fearless in the hectic goalmouth exchanges of his day, Galwayman Tony Reddin was in his late twenties when he came on the scene. He won league and championship medals in 1949 and two more All-Irelands in 1950 and '51. He brought his tally of national league medals to five - winning again in 1950, '52, '54 and '55. He collected Munster Railway Cup winners medals on five occasions, before retiring in 1957. His play was a blend of wonderful anticipation, sharp reflexes and the sight of a hawk.
Right full back:
Bobby Rackard (Wexford)
Wexford's emergence in the 1950s gave a timely fillip to hurling. In a team of many stars few outshone defender Bobby Rackard, with his defiant, elegant and sporting brand of hurling. He stepped in at full back when Nick O'Donnell was injured during the 1954 final against Cork. His display that day is rated amongst the best ever seen. He was right full back when Wexford won the All-Irelands of 1955 and '56. At the end of the thrilling '56 final against Cork, he turned to Christy Ring and with colleague Nick O'Donnell, carried Ring shoulder high for all to acknowledge.
Nick O'Donnell (Wexford)
Kilkenny born Nicky O'Donnell was of immense physique, but possessed very subtle hurling skills. He was a dominant, unflappable figure close to goal. He captained Wexford in the 1955 final. He won his second medal in 1956 and was captain again in 1960. His brilliance and consistency were acknowledged that year when he was named Texaco Hurler of the Year. National league honours came in 1956 and '58. The 1956 team has a place in the game's folklore as the team which overturned a 15 point half time deficit to win by four against Tipperary.
Left full back:
John Doyle (Tipperary)
John Doyle's tally of eight senior All-Ireland medals was equalled by only the legendary Christy Ring. He collected his first in 1949 as a 19 year old left corner back, where he won again in 1950 and '51. He won his next two All-Ireland medals as a left half back, before reverting to right full back when winning his final three. The holder of a record ten national hurling league medals, he won six Railway Cup medals and was voted Texaco Hurler of the Year in 1964. John's style of play was marked by his passion and fearless and furious involvement.
Right half back:
Brian Whelahan (Offaly)
Brian Whelahan of Offaly won minor All-Ireland medals in 1987 and '89, when he captained the side. His style combines the many skills of the game with the nimble grace of a dancer. He won senior All-Ireland medals as a right half back in 1994 and '98 (when switching to the attack, he ended as top scorer). He was in the Birr team which won All-Ireland club titles in 1995 and '98 and was Texaco Hurler of the Year for 1994 and again in '98 - the first hurler to receive such an honour for a second time.
Centre half back:
John Keane (Waterford)
John Keane was equally brilliant at full back and centre half, or in a forward role. A leading figure in the game for seventeen seasons, he was centre back on the Waterford team which made history in 1938, when winning the Munster senior championship for the first time. Ten years later he was centre forward on the Deise team that claimed the Liam McCarthy Cup for the county for the first time. The Mount Sion man crowned a brilliant career by winning his seventh Railway Cup medal with Munster the following year, his third as a forward.
Left half back:
Paddy Phelan (Kilkenny)
Before Paddy Phelan ever played for his county's senior hurlers, the Leinster selectors picked him as goalkeeper on the 1930 Railway Cup team. A year later he was corner back on the Kilkenny team which played in three epic All-Ireland final games against Cork, losing out in the second replay. He was prominent on Kilkenny teams which played in seven of the next nine All-Ireland finals, winning in 1932, '33, '35 and '39. He was a defender in ten consecutive Railway Cup finals from 1932 onwards, collecting winner medals in '32, '33, '36 and '41.
Lory Meagher (Kilkenny)
Lory Meagher from Tullaroan played a leading role in helping Leinster win the first ever Railway Cup competition in 1927, and won a second six years later. His masterly play, in the first two of the 1931 epic finals against Cork, bestowed on him the title of 'a prince of hurling' and his absence through injury from the third game was a source of widespread regret and a big factor in Kilkenny's defeat. However, national honours soon came his way when Kilkenny won the All-Ireland of 1932, '33 and '35 with The Prince in all his glory at midfield and captain in 1935.
Jack Lynch (Cork)
Jack Lynch was one of the stalwarts of a Cork side which won four All-Irelands in a row between 1941-44, an achievement never accomplished before or since. Lynch played at midfield where he displayed a great range of skills. He won an All-Ireland football medal as a forward in 1945, and a year later was at midfield winning another All-Ireland hurling medal. He remains the only player in the history of the GAA, to win six consecutive senior All-Ireland medals. He captained the team of 1942.
Right half forward:
Christy Ring (Cork)
Christy Ring won a minor All-Ireland with Cork in 1938, and in an incredible career became the first player to win eight senior All-Ireland medals (1941, '42, '43, '44, '46, '52, '53 and '54). He set a scoring record with 22 goals and 35 points, and he exceeded that total when again top scorer in 1961 with 104 points. He shared the honour with Jimmy Doyle on 99 points a year later and crowned 25 years in the game in 1963 when winning his 18th Railway Cup medal with Munster. In 1959, at the age of 39, he was voted Texaco Hurler of the Year.
Mick Mackey (Limerick)
Mick Mackey was the most renowned hurler of the thirties. Limerick broke a ten year losing run by winning the Munster Championship in 1933, before losing to Kilkenny in the All-Ireland final. Three Munster titles in a row followed, and the McCarthy Cup in 1934, 1936 and later in 1940. In a record sequence of national league wins Mackey won five in a row up to 1938. He was a regular on Munster Railway Cup teams, winning eight times between 1934 and '45. Possessed of all the skills, he used his great natural strength in daring, spectacular solo runs.
Left half forward:
Jim Langton (Kilkenny)
Jim Langton was one of the great hurling stylists. An All-Ireland winning minor in 1935 and 1936 he won his first senior medal in the famous "Thunder and Lighting" final of 1939. He played in five more finals but won only once. He was a regular on Railway Cup teams playing with and against the greatest players of his era - Mackey, Stokes, Rackard, Phelan and Ring. All who saw him play would rank him alongside these giants of the game.
Right corner forward:
Jimmy Doyle (Tipperary)
At 15, Jimmy Doyle was in goal for the defeated Tipperary minors in the 1954 All-Ireland final. As a forward, he played in three more minor finals. He won his first senior medal in 1958 and five further medals in 1962 and '65 (as captain) 1961, '64 and '71. He is one of the few to win medals in three decades. He won six national league titles. He achieved the same distinction in Railway Cup hurling, winning his first of eight medals in 1958 and a final one in 1970. He was Texaco Hurler of the Year in 1965, and his tally of 11 goals and 91 points in 1969 made him top scorer that year.
Ray Cummins (Cork)
Ray Cummins was a new type of hurling full forward. He won his first senior All-Ireland in 1970 beating Wexford in the first 80 minute final. His second came as captain in 1976 and he won again in 1977 and '78. With his club Blackrock, he won All-Ireland titles in 1972, '74 and 1979. Cummins was equally proficient in gaelic football, and played at full forward on the super Cork team which took the Sam Maguire Cup in 1973. Unique in the annals of All Star Awards, he was honoured in both codes at the outset of the scheme in 1971, won further hurling awards in 1972 and '77 and again in football in 1973.
Left corner forward:
Eddie Keher (Kilkenny)
Eddie Keher played in the 1959 minor final against Tipperary and as a substitute in the replayed senior final against Waterford four weeks later. In an 18 year career he played in ten senior finals. His first of six All-Ireland senior medals came in 1963 - the others in 1967, '69 (when he was captain), '72, '74 and '75. He won national league medals in 1962, '66 and '76 and was a regular on Leinster Railway Cup teams from 1961 to 1977, winning medals on nine occasions. He was on the original All Star team of 1971 and is the only hurler to receive five successive awards. He was Texaco Hurler of the Year in 1972.
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