Hurling heroes of the 1990s to be honoured on All-Ireland Final Sunday
As part of the on-field entertainment on All-Ireland final Sunday, this year the GAA will salute the star hurlers of the 1990s in recognition of a decade of hurling which did so much to elevate the game to new heights and popularity.
This initiative is in light of the fact that Kilkenny won back to back All-Ireland senior titles in 1992 and 1993 - which presents a break in the traditional jubilee team roll of honour ceremony.
The 90s began with impressive titles for the dominant trio of Liam MacCarthy Cup winners in Cork, Tipperary and Kilkenny between 1990 and 1993.
But Offaly’s sensational comeback victory over Limerick in the 1994 final ushered in a new era of drama.
In 1995 Clare won Munster for the first time in 63 years, and then their first All-Ireland senior hurling crown in 81 years that September - winning those titles again in 1997.
In between was a memorable All-Ireland title for Wexford in 1996 – their first crown since 1968.
Offaly would triumph over Kilkenny in a sensational final in 1998 before a young Cork team of future legends would emerge on the landscape to win in 1999.
For colour, drama, excitement and entertainment, hurling was on a new pedestal with huge crowds flocking to the game.
A group of senior GAA Correspondents under the chairmanship of Uachtarán CLG John Horan presided over the selection of a team of players who contributed enormously to this iconic period in hurling’s rich history.
Uachtarán CLG John Horan said: “We are delighted to pay tribute to a special group of players who were part of such a defining period in the game.
“The 80s will forever be fondly remembered for the emergence of Galway and Offaly and the return of Tipperary. But the 90s went a step further with All-Ireland titles for six separate counties while Limerick and Galway also reached finals, and although unsuccessful, contributed enormously to a golden age.
“The game stands on the shoulders of the giants who went before and the hurling heroes of the 90s ensured that hurling was in a great place and enjoyed massive popularity as we entered the new Millennium.”
The players will be guests of the GAA on Sunday and will be presented to the crowd in between the minor and senior finals.
Hurling Team of the 1990s
1) Damien Fitzhenry (Wexford)
In a golden age for goalkeepers, the long-serving Model County net minder had nerves of steel and was ultra-reliable and was a class apart.
2) Brian Corcoran (Cork)
Played corner back as a teenager in the 1992 final defeat by Kilkenny and all who saw the Erin’s Own man knew he was something special. Had a glittering dual star career and was hurler of the year in 1992 and 1999.
3) Brian Lohan (Clare)
Totemic figure in a great Clare team who did so much to define this period. A defiant full back and gatekeeper, his sweeping clearances were cheered like scores by the Banner fans.
4) Martin Hanamy (Offaly)
Heroic figure in the full back line who regularly was handed the toughest man marking jobs going, but displayed guile and craft to come out on top.
5) Brian Whelahan (Offaly)
The poster boy of his generation, hurler of the year in 1994 and 1998 - a man who was picked on the GAA Team of the Millennium on the back of stellar displays for Offaly and also his club Birr.
6) Seánie McMahon (Clare)
Yet another pivotal figure on an iconic Clare team and hurler of the year in 1995. Strong and stylish, McMahon was a great competitor and leader, and also a magnificent striker of long range frees.
7) Liam Dunne (Wexford)
A fearless competitor who gave many years of distinguished service for his club Oulart the Ballagh and also for the mighty Models and played a crucial role in Wexford’s 1996 path to glory. Three-time all-star.
8) Ciarán Carey (Limerick)
A force of nature and a joy to watch, Carey was an accomplished performer in several positions and a hurling natural who was regularly at the heart of Limerick’s best work.
9) Michael Coleman (Galway)
Made his championship debut tin 1988, the last time that Galway won the two-in-a-row, he remained a powerful presence at midfield for nearly a decade, during which he won two All-Stars.
10) Martin Storey (Wexford)
Inspirational captain of the Wexford team who were dancing at the cross roads of MacCarthy Cup glory in 1996. A natural leader who was at his best in big games. A three-time all-star.
11) Gary Kirby (Limerick)
A four-time all-star, he is one of the icons of this unforgettable era. Was a heroic figure for Limerick and could always be relied upon to slot crucial scores from play and placed balls.
12) Jamesie O’Connor (Clare)
Provided the polish and class to a thunderous Clare attack. His rampaging runs and unerring accuracy from out on the wing were hallmarks of the Banner and their success.
13) Michael Cleary (Tipperary)
A survivor from the initial Premier breakthrough teams of the late 80s, Cleary was a forward genius who on his day was simply unmarkable. A four-time all-star.
14) DJ Carey (Kilkenny)
Whenever a debate is held about the game’s greatest players DJ will always be mentioned. He was the standout attacking threat of the decade and his eye for great goals has never been equaled. Twice hurler of the year and holder of nine all-stars across four forward positions.
15) Johnny Dooley (Offaly)
The Seir Kieran man is part of a great Offaly hurling family who backboned so much glory for the Faithful. Johnny was a stylish operator who was a crucial provider of scores from frees and play.
The selectors were: John Horan (Uachtarán CLG), Martin Breheny (Irish Independent), Sean Moran (Irish Times), Michael Lyster (RTÉ TV), Brian Carthy (RTÉ Radio), Jim O’Sullivan (formerly Irish Examiner), Martán Ó Ciardha (Iar RnaG), Sean Bán Breathnach (RnaG).