Great Hurling Half Backlines

Watching back a few of the older Clare matches got me thinking about this. Nothing like seeing a half backline unit just taking over a game completely. There have been a few great units in the last 30 odd years.

A quick poll on the units which helped drive their teams to multiple all Ireland’s. I have left out the late 80s/early 90s tipp, 2002/2003 Kilkenny and the Tipp half backline of recent years as they changed between A/I victories and weren’t the same consistent three like the others

Galway - Late 80s

Serious balance of hurling and steel. A real dominant unit. I will leave it to the Galway lads to wax lyrically about them. @flattythehurdler @anon7035031 @gaillimhmick @KinvarasPassion et al

Offaly - mid time late 90s

Three lovely hurlers. Whelahan one of the all time greats while Rigney was a fine centre back despite not being a particularly huge man. Martin was solid as well. Played together in three A/I finals winning two. Rigney was gone by the 2000 final with Joe Errity at six.

Clare - mid to late 90s

Another serious unit. The two wing backs weren’t the paciest yet it was seldom an issue due to their reading of the play and excellent touch. All three could physically dominate and could outhurl you. Seanie epitomised consistency. Could really take over games when they got going.

Cork - mid 2000s

From what I remember Gardiner was midfield in 2003 with Kenny at wing back. They switched half way through the 2003 final and remained in their new spots for the remainder of their careers. Were a hugely dominant in their pomp. O’Halpin’s athleticism, Gardiner’s hurling and Curran was just a great all rounder. When Curran hurler well do did Cork. Three all Ireland finals in a row winning two.

Kilkenny - Late 2000s early 2010s

A group that won three A/Is together and probably could have been more only for Delaney missing a year with injury and spending another at full back due to Hickey being injured. Hogan also missed an all Ireland due to injury. Two all time greats and a real solid player between them who knew his role and was good at it. Another unit who could just strange a grand half forward line to death.

  • Finnerty-Keady-McInerney
  • Whelahan-Rigney-Martin
  • Doyle-Mcmahon-Daly
  • Gardiner-Curran-O’Hailpin
  • Walsh-Hogan-Delaney

0 voters

Feel free to share your thoughts on any of these great half backlines or any other half backlines you rated down through the years

The three mahers?

They played very little together as a unit compared to the others who all had at least 4 or 5 seasons together as a unit

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Blackrock mid 80s,
Tom Cashman, Frank Cummins, Dermot McCurtain


I voted with the heart, and it’s impossible really to compare lines across generations. It’s a bit like the all conquering Aussie cricket team. A lad said the pity about the batsmen is, they don’t have to face their own bowlers.
I have to say though, it’s hard to look past that kk line. Tommy Walsh is the best halfback I ever saw in the flesh.


In fairness there is no right, wrong or definitive answer here. All five listed were serious units which contained outstanding hurlers. All a matter of taste

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Bullshit. Where are Dave Clarke, Ciarán Carey and Mark Foley?


fuck some club half back line

That is a top class inter county line

There was a Kerry player from Ballyduff that was a regular with Blackrock in the late 1970s/ early 1980s - John O’Grady

Ineligible. Pre 1995. Surprised the Galway lads made it.

Surprised the Clare contributor that started the thread didn’t mention he original in Clare half back lines - Ger Loughnane - Sean Stack - Sean Hehir.

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Surely the All Ireland winning half back line in 1973 warranted a nomination - Phil Bennis - Eamonn Cregan - Sean Foley.

I strongly suspect it would have won the poll hands down too.

Clarke, Carey and Foley was a serious line on paper

Going with the three Galway boys. I was only a young lad starting to watch hurling when they were in their pomp, but they looked the part


Gerry Mc’s swag really gave them an x factor

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Keady was a hero of mine growing up and a rolls royce of a centre back. Gerry Mac was a supreme athlete, very brave but he lacked natural hurling ability. Finnerty was tough but again felt that his hurling was short of many other players mentioned in this thread.

Obviously, Kilkenny’s half back wins hands down as they have two of the greatest hurlers of all time while Hogan was probably a tad underrated due to having those lads beside them.

I voted for Cork as leaving Kilkenny aside, they were the best imho.


They were all brilliant hurlers the Galway lads.
I’d take them over the stepford wives any day of the week.
An X factor Hb line.

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I remember the first time seeing Ronan Curran play. He was centre back on the Barrs senior hurling time while still minor. They were playing championship in Carrigtwohill, against St Catherines (I think).

He was phenomenal. I was in a lecture in UCC the next day and told Joe Deane, I had seen the next great centre back of Cork hurling last night.


Himself and Seanie Mcmahon were far better centre backs than Brian Hogan who was a solid six in his own right but nowhere near as dominant as Curran and Seanie. But the two Kilkenny wing backs were just a level above the Clare and Cork wing backs despite the four of them being great players in their own rights, no real shame in that. To have two of the very best wing backs to ever play of all time on one side is remarkable.

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Ronan Curran must be one of the most under-rated players of his era. He was just class. Never really hogged the media limelight either.

Cork still haven’t replaced him.