The retirement of Henry Shefflin on the 25th of March from the game of hurling marked the end of the most decorated career in the history of Gaelic Games, but who are the other greats who would make the top 10 greatest players list. The following is the authors pick of the 10 greatest players of all time listed from 1 to 10 in order of preference.
1. Henry Shefflin
Henry Shefflin is the undisputed king of hurling in terms of honours with 10 All-Ireland titles, 13 Leinster SHC titles, six national league titles and 11 All Star awards as well as 3 All-Ireland Club titles with Ballyhale Shamrocks. He was was named Hurler of the Year on 3 occasions and is all-time highest point scorer in hurling with a total of 27-484(565) in 71 Championship games from 1999-2014.
2. Christy Ring
Ring is widely regarded as one of the greatest hurlers in the history of the game and up until the Shefflin era many former players, commentators and fans rated him as the number one hurler of all-times.He was included in the Hurling Team of the Century in 1984 and also in the Hurling Team of the Millennium. During a 23 year career spanning 1939-1962, Ring made 65 Championship appearances for Cork, winning 8 All-Ireland titles and scoring 33-208(307) during his career. Over 100,000 mourners attended his funeral in 1979 at which his playing colleague and then Taoiseach at the time Jack Lynch gave the oration.
3. DJ Carey
DJ Carey is widely regarded as probably the most skillfull hurler to grace the game of hurling. His career is laced with moments of magic and individual brilliance which has lit up the game of hurling. Carey made 57 championship appearances with a career tally of 34 -195(297). He won nine All-Star awards,5 All-Irelands Senior hurling titles as well as being voted player of the year on two occasions.
4. Eddie Keher
Along with Shefflin & Carey, Keher is another of the legendary icons of Kilkenny hurling. He is the second highest point scorer of all times in hurling with a total of 35-336(441) in 50 Championship appearances for the Cats. He was the games most prolific scorer until June 20th 2010 when he was surpassed by Henry Shefflin. During his glittering career Eddie Keher won 6 All-Ireland Senior All-Ireland hurling medals, 10 Leinster Championship medals,9 Railway Cup medals as well as five All-Star awards and was named Texaco Hurler of the Year in 1972.
5. Tommy Walsh
The Tullyroan clubman is the second most decorated player in the history of hurling with 9 All-Ireland Senior Medals,10 All Star Awards and 10 Leinster titles while playing for Kilkenny as well as being voted the GPA player of the year in 2009. He is the first defender to make the top 10 list and is probably regarded as the greatest half-back ever to play hurling.Walsh despite standing only 5’9 inches tall is regarded by many as one of the finest fielders of the sliotar every to play the game. Walsh retired in November 2014 at the tender age of 31 after a cameo role in last years 2014 championship for the cats. He is probably the only player who may have surpassed Henry Shefflin in the All Ireland Senior hurling medal count stakes but for his early retirement.
6. Brenda Cummins
The Tipperary net minder with 73 championship appearances holds the record for the most number of Championship appearances of any player in hurling.He made his senior hurling debut in the 1993-94 National Hurling League. Cummins went on to play a key role as goalkeeper for Tipperary for twenty years up until his retirement in 2014. He won 2 All-Ireland Senior medals, 5 Munster medals and 3 National Hurling League medals. He was an All-Ireland runner-up on three occasions and collected 5 All-Star awards during his illustrious career between the posts.
7. Mick Mackey
Mick Mackey is immortalised in Limerick hurling and is often compared to Christy Ring in terms of greatness in the game of hurling. The centre-forward made his senior debut in the 1930-31 National League. Mackey went on to play a key part for Limerick during a golden age for the team, and won 3 All-Ireland medals, 5 Munster medals and 5 National Hurling League medals. He was an All-Ireland runner-up on two occasions, Mackey also captained the Limerick team to two All-Ireland victories.
8. John Doyle
The veteran defender is revered in his native Tipperary as probably the games greatest defender. The Tipperary farmer in his autobiography admitted to ploughing the fields in his bare-feet so he could build the strength in his legs. During his career he recorded many memorable tussles with all the greats of the game including Christy Ring, Eddie Keher and Mick Mackey.He made his senior debut in the 1947-48 National League. Doyle went on to play a key part for Tipperary during a hugely successful era for the team, and won 8 All-Ireland medals, 10 Munster medals and 10 National Hurling League medals.
9. Ken McGrath
The Waterford centre-back is the only player in the list never to win an All-Ireland Senior medal but probably the greatest centre-half back ever to play hurling. He joined the Waterford panel in 1996 and was a regular member of the starting fifteen until his retirement in 2011.He has won 4 Munster titles, 1 National League winners’ medal and 3 All-Star awards. He ended up as an All-Ireland runner-up on one occasion when Waterford lost to Kilkenny in the 2009 All-Ireland final. He was an integral part of the great Waterford team that included the likes of John Mullane, Dan Shanahan, Eoin Kelly,Paul Flynn & Michael “The Brick” Walsh.
10. Nicky English
The flying Tipperary corner forward made his senior debut during the 1982 championship season. English went on to play a key part for almost 15 years on the Tipperary panel, winning 2 All-Ireland medals, 5 Munster medals and 1 National Hurling League medal. During his career he amassed a scoring total of 20 -117(177).He is Tipperary’s second highest point scorer behind Eoin Kelly.He won 6 All Star awards and was voted the Texaco Hurler of the year in 1989.