The first of The Irish Independents five-part series to mark the 125th anniversary starts the search for the top footballer and hurler of all-time
125 Jimmy Barry Murphy (Cork)
One of the GAA’s greatest dual players, he carved a reputation as one of football’s deadliest finishers, scoring two of Cork’s three goals in their 1973 All-Ireland final win over Galway.
124 PJ Duke (Cavan)
Part of Cavan’s magnificent half-back line of the 1940s, Duke would also line out at midfield in the Polo Grounds final of 1947 and corner-forward in the 1945 decider, underlining his great versatility as a footballer. He died aged only 25.
123 Liam Hayes (Meath)
His partnership with Gerry McEntee endured for the best part of a decade, during which time Meath contested four All-Ireland finals (winning two) and won five Leinster titles. Hayes was ‘man of the match’ in the 1987 All-Ireland final.
122 Gabriel Kelly (Cavan)
Kelly featured regularly on All Star teams selected in the 1960s and was a permanent fixture on the all-conquering Ulster Railway Cup teams of the 1960s. Renowned as one of the great corner-backs of his era, he won four Ulster medals.
121 Peter McGinnity (Fermanagh)
An All Star in 1982, McGinnity spent many long and fruitless years with Fermanagh (1971-'88) but had an imposing presence across a variety of positions.
120 Joe Kernan (Armagh)
Kernan was effective at either midfield or centre-forward and has the distinction of scoring two goals in an All-Ireland final and still ending up on the losing side. Won All Stars in 1977 and '82.
119 Ray Carolan (Cavan)
Carolan forged a reputation in the tough environment of 1960s Ulster football as being one of the dominant forces of Cavan football’s last great period, when they won four provincial titles.
118 Jack Higgins (Kildare)
An integral part of the Kildare team that claimed the first Sam Maguire Cup in 1928, Higgins had a reputation as a masterful centre-back and was chosen there on the Kildare ‘team of the millennium’.
117 Gerry McEntee (Meath)
McEntee mixed a career as a specialist surgeon with playing his part on a Meath team that took the baton from the great Kerry team in the 1980s. A great competitor and fielder, his partnership with Liam Hayes was enduring.
116 Gerry O’Malley (Roscommon)
O’Malley’s career spanned three decades and yielded four Connacht championships but All-Ireland success eluded him in 1962 when he was their 33-year-old captain against Kerry.
115 Eugene ‘Nudie’ Hughes (Monaghan)
To win three All Stars with Monaghan was quite an achievement. To win one as a defender (1979) – his previous two were in attack – underlined the rounded footballer ‘Nudie’ was. Monaghan’s most inspiring player in a golden period.
114 Paddy Mackey (Wexford)
A throwback to the great Wexford team that completed four in a row from 1915-'18, Mackey was a renowned dual player who had previously won an All-Ireland hurling medal in 1910.
113 Gay O’Driscoll (Dublin)
The word solid stuck to O’Driscoll throughout his career. He was unspectacular but brought hardness and durability to a Dublin defence, traits which earned him All Stars in 1975 and '77.
112 Martin Newell (Galway)
Class was written over everything Newell did. Left half-back on Galway’s three-in-a-row team of the 1960s, he was one of the team’s most stylish players and was ‘footballer of the year’ in 1965.
111 Paul Curran (Dublin)
One of the most elegant wing-backs of modern times, Curran could play anywhere, but right half-back was his launch pad for an All-Ireland title and four successive Leinster titles in the 1990s. ‘Footballer of the year’ in 1995.
110 Kevin O’Brien (Wicklow)
The first Wicklow All Star in 1990, he ploughed a lone furrow for many years but was always a creative and brave attacking force who used the platforms of his club, province and even country to showcase his skills.
109 Darren Fay (Meath)
Arguably the best full-back of the modern era, he was a cornerstone on Sean Boylan’s Meath teams of the 1990s and for a couple of seasons he was just about unbeatable. Mixed size with great speed and agility. Three times an All Star.
108 Eugene Mulligan (Offaly)
The first automatic All Star in 1971, the year he also picked up ‘footballer of the year’. Mulligan was a dashing, stylish half-back and key component of the great Offaly team of the 1970s.
107 Sean O’Connell (Derry)
A popular member of the greatest team never to win an All-Ireland medal voted on in 1984, O’Connell’s main stage was the Railway Cup, which he won with Ulster on four occasions. An agile, intelligent forward.
106 Niall Cahalane (Cork)
The iron man of the Billy Morgan’s defence in the late 1980s and early 1990s, All Star defender in 1987 and '88, Cahalane’s determination was one of the traits of this team.
105 Barney Rock (Dublin)
Rock cultivated an impressive kicking style that gave him wonderful trajectory and was one of the great modern day place-kickers. An All Star in 1983 – when he won his only All-Ireland medal – '84 and '85, his goal in the 1983 final against Galway was real opportunism.
104 Paddy Moriarty (Armagh)
Moriarty won his first All Star in 1972 as a teenager and showed immense versatility to win a second five years later at centre-back. Renowned for the class and composure he had in possession.
103 Paddy Cullen (Dublin)
One of the game’s great characters, Cullen brought reliability to Dublin on his way to three All-Ireland medals and four All Stars (1974, '76, '77 and '79).
102 Bernard Flynn (Meath)
Flynn gave one of the greatest displays on a losing team in an All-Ireland final against Down in 1991, scoring six points. A lively forward who was equally comfortable off either foot.
101 Paudie Lynch (Kerry)
Won his five All-Ireland medals as a midfielder, half-back and corner-back, making him one of the Kingdom’s most versatile performers in the 1970s. Three All Stars (1974, '78 and '81) also came his way.
125 Joe Salmon (Galway)
A regular for Galway between 1949 and 1964, was chosen at midfield on the best team never to win an All-Ireland in the GAA’s Centenary year. Career coincided with a period when Galway alternated between All-Ireland contenders and lost souls in Munster.
124 Liam Dunne (Wexford)
Played 126 competitive senior games for Wexford in a lengthy career which reached its peak in 1996, when he played an influential role from centre-back in their All-Ireland success. A triple All Star winner in 1990, '93 and '96.
123 Sean Stack (Clare)
He never won an All-Ireland medal but he is still recalled as one of hurling’s great centre-backs. A key figure in Clare’s double NHL success in 1977-78 on a team which was very unlucky not to make the championship breakthrough.
122 Austin Flynn (Waterford)
Full-back on the Waterford team that won the 1959 All-Ireland title, Flynn continued to excel in the position long into the 1960s and he was chosen at No 3 on unofficial All Star teams in 1963, '65 and '66.
121 Pat Delaney (Offaly)
Hurler of the year in 1981, when he played a huge role in driving Offaly towards their first All-Ireland SHC title. An imposing figure at No 6, he was also extremely effective going forward.
120 Dan Quigley (Wexford)
A member of one of Wexford’s most famous hurling families, he was captain of the side that staged a remarkable recovery against Tipperary to win the 1968 All-Ireland final. A regular with Leinster for many years.
119 Tony Browne (Waterford)
Still going strong at the age of 36, he has been a key part of the Waterford scene since helping them win their only All-Ireland U-21 title in 1992. Best-known as a wing-back, he has also excelled at centre-back and midfield.
118 Timmy Ryan (Limerick)
Hurled at senior level with Limerick for 15 years, during which he won three All-Ireland senior medals in 1934, '36 and '40 and five successive NHL titles in 1934-38. Best known as a midfielder, he won 15 Limerick championships with Ahane.
117 Anthony Daly (Clare)
It was fitting that the honour of being the first Clare man to lead the county to All-Ireland glory for 81 years fell to Daly. A natural leader who captained Clare for eight seasons, the All-Ireland wins in 1995 and '97 were the high points of a high-yield career.
116 Seamus Cleere (Kilkenny)
The first Kilkenny man to be chosen as hurler of the year in 1963, a year in which he captained them to All-Ireland success from right half-back. He captained Leinster to Railway Cup success in 1964 and won two more All-Ireland medals in 1967 and '69.
115 Josie Gallagher (Galway)
Chosen at right half-forward in 1984 on the best team never to win an All-Ireland medal, it was a recognition of the Gort man’s excellence on the Galway team between 1942 and 1954, a period in which the county enjoyed little success.
114 Tomas Mulcahy (Cork)
A dual player of considerable talent, it was as a hurler that he really excelled in a career which saw him win three All-Ireland senior medals, one as captain in 1990.
Equally effective in either the half-forward or full-forward lines.
113 Martin Comerford (Kilkenny)
His goal, scored after coming on as a sub in this year’s All-Ireland final, may well have been the decisive score but then he has a well-deserved reputation for scoring crucial goals since joining the Kilkenny panel for the 2002 season.
112 Martin Storey (Wexford)
Played for Wexford for 23 years, starring as an U-14 in 1977 and ending with the seniors in 2000. In between, he gave remarkable service to the county, the highlight of which was leading them to All-Ireland glory in 1996. A triple All Star winner.
111 Francis Loughnane (Tipperary) A deadly sniper from frees and open play, he enjoyed an outstanding career as a half-forward with club (Roscrea) and county. He was chosen at right half-forward on the first three All Star teams in 1971, '72 and '73.
110 George O’Connor (Wexford)
O’Connor on his knees offering a thanksgiving prayer is one of the great images from the post-match scene at the 1996 final. He had been on the team for 17 years and won the elusive medal in what was his last game for Wexford whom he served so well as a midfielder and half-forward.
109 Eddie Brennan (Kilkenny)
Seven All-Ireland senior medals and four All Star awards. That’s quite a haul and it’s probably not complete yet for a man who can exploit his opportunistic instincts anywhere in attack.
108 Johnny Dooley (Offaly)
A triple All Star winner in 1994, '95 and again in 2000, he brought a whole lot more than accuracy from frees to an Offaly squad that enjoyed remarkable success.
107 Ben O’Connor (Cork)
One of the real Cork stars right through this decade and, on the evidence of his performance for Newtownshandrum on Sunday, he still has a plenty more in the tank.
106 Willie O’Connor (Kilkenny)
It was wholly appropriate that he should captain Kilkenny to All-Ireland success in 2000, climaxing a great career in which he won four All-Ireland medals and four All Star awards.
105 Martin O’Doherty (Cork)
A triple All-Ireland medal winner from 1976 to '78 and a triple All Star recipient in 1977, '78 and '79, he was a huge presence at full-back in what was a glory era on Leeside.
104 Garrett Howard (Limerick, Dublin)
Winner of five All-Ireland senior medals with Dublin and Limerick between 1921 and 1936, he also holds the distinction of having won Railway Cup medals with both Leinster and Munster.
103 Tony Keady (Galway)
Hurler of the year in 1988, he brought a swashbuckling approach to centre-back play during what was a glory period for Galway.
102 John Leahy (Tipperary)
Promoted to the senior team as a teenager in 1988, he would go on to become of Tipp’s main men for over a decade, during which he won three All Star awards, two as a wing-forward and one at midfield.
101 Joe Deane (Cork)
Made his senior debut in 1996 and brought a remarkable level of consistency to his game right up his final season in 2008.
A wonderfully gifted touch player, his strike rate from open play and frees were crucial to many Cork successes.