What else can anybody write about Dublin GAA that has not been said already this decade? As a country we have watched on at the greatest period of dominance any county has ever had on the inter-county stage on this island. However, they endured a period of pain and struggle too. To quote the Canadian rapper Drake, “They started from the bottom, now they’re here”. That meant going back to their clubs and constructing a grass roots programme that has now brought the current crop of senior footballers to the pantheon of undisputed greatness. Bringing with it an even more competitive club championship, to the point where the rest of the country is engrossed in the goings on of the capital’s tournament. But who are the best club players of the past 20 years? We posed the question to the men that know best. Dublin Ladies Strength and Conditioning coach Ken Robinson, former All-Star and Dubs hero Barry Cahill and former manager and cult hero Paul ‘Pillar’ Caffrey. Lets’ see who they chose!
“He’s the standout keeper for me definitely” explained Barry Cahill of Michael Savage, the St. Vincent’s goalkeeper led from the back as he helped his club dominate the era. Trying to counteract his kickouts was a headache for opponents in the lead up to game day, “and you often came away unsuccessful” explained Pillar.
Honourable Mention: David Nestor (Kilmacud Crokes).
Full Back Line:
Na Fianna man Stephen McGlinchey was the first man chosen at corner back, he soldiered through both decades as they enjoyed a golden era at the turn of the millennium. Kilmacud Crokes enforcer Rory O’Carroll was chosen at number 3, and he was joined by the tenacious Graham Norton of St. Brigid’s in the opposite corner.
Honourable Mentions: Sean George (Ballymun Kickhams), Jarlath Curley (St. Vincents).
Half Back Line:
Chris Guckian of St. Jude’s was selected at number 5, “I never seen him play a bad game for them” mentioned Pillar. Anchoring the half back line is Ger Brennan, the St. Vincent’s leader was pivotal in their two All-Ireland title wins. They were accompanied by Ballymun Kickhams flyer Alan Hubbard.
Honourable Mentions: Kieran McGeeney (Na Fianna), Darren Nelson (Ballyboden).
The first pick at midfield was Kilmacud tower house Darren McGee, who was a key reason his club had so much success in the noughties. The number 9 jersey was bestowed upon Ballymun’s James McCarthy, arguably the player of the decade across all of Ireland, his love and performances for the club never wavered despite the success he has obtained with Dublin. “He is the most athletic player I’ve ever trained” added Ken Robinson.
Honourable Mentions: John O’Loughlin (St. Brigid’s), Michael Dara McAuley (Balllyboden St.Enda’s), Davy Byrne (Ballymun Kickhams), Ross McConnell (St. Oliver Plunkett’s).
Half Forward Line:
St. Brigid’s warrior Ken D’arcy began the honours in the half forward line, he was hugely influential in getting his club to 5 county finals over the era as well as a Leinster title in 2003. St. Vincent’s Diarmuid Connolly was chosen on the 40, with zero debate or argument from anyone present on the Zoom call. At number 12 was Ballyboden St. Enda’s danger man Colm Basquel, he was a constant thorn in the side of his opponents in the lead up to their All-Ireland win in 2016.
Honourable Mentions: Gareth Smith (St. Oliver Plunkett’s), Darren Reilly (Ballyboden St. Enda’s).
Full Forward Line:
Kilmacud Crokes stalwart Pat Burke was selected by the 3 men at corner forward, he was vital in his clubs 2 All-Ireland title winning sides. Conal Keaney was given the number 14 jersey as a result of his importance during a successful period for Ballyboden. The last man to make the side was the Tomás ‘Mossy’ Quinn. The St. Vincent’s forward was simply deadly from a dead ball and often carried his club and sometimes county over the line in tight finishes.
Honourable mentions: Brian Kavanagh (Kilmacud Crokes), Dean Rock (Ballymun Kickhams), Kevin McManamon (St. Jude’s).
The Team In Full
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