‘The Faithful County’ have been responsible for giving us some of the GAA’s greatest moments and indeed some of its’ best characters. It is a county steeped in tradition and although some of those great moments have not been as frequent in recent years, they remain a proud tribe. Making up our selection panel for ‘Offaly’s Best Club XV’ are 3 of their finest exports of the past 20 years. They are Alan Mulhall of Walsh Island, Rhode’s Anton Sullivan, and Tubber’s favourite son Ciaran McManus. With our only rule being that our selectors could choose a maximum of 4 players from each club, it proved to be difficult for the triumvirate, but after a lot of deliberation they settled on their best team eventually, lets’ see who they chose.
Padraig Kelly was the first man on every man’s team sheet, the Shamrock’s and Offaly shot stopper had a long and prosperous career between the posts for both club and county. He was often called upon to kick a long range free before it became fashionable. An Offaly career spanning 15 years and a club career reaching even further cements his place at number 1.
Honourable Mentions: Kevin Meehan (Clara).
Full Back Line:
“Now that’s the easiest one on the team” said Ciaran McManus of Tullamore’s Cathal Daly, he resoundingly got the nod at corner back. Clara enforcer Scott Brady was chosen at 3, his heroics in helping Clara to county titles in 2003 and 2009 earning him his place. Completing the full back line was Edenderry’s Sean Pender, who was a driving force in their title wins in 2011 and 2015, he is also the only man in the club to captain his team to both Minor and Senior titles.
Honourable Mentions: Joe Quinn (Clara), Shane Sullivan (Rhode), Paul McConway (Tullamore),
Half Back Line:
Thankfully, all 3 men had the same 3 picks on the half back line. They opted for John Kenny at number 5, the Daingean club man was a stalwart for both his club and for Offaly. Finbarr Cullen was chosen at centre back, he represented club, county and country having success at all levels. On the opposite wing was Gracefield’s Karl Slattery, he was pivotal in getting his club to 2 county finals.
Honourable Mentions: Martin Heavin (Tubber), Brian Darby (Rhode) Matthew Mitchell (Clara).
Rhode’s Alan McNamee was an automatic choice at midfield. ‘Super’ has been a colossus for Rhode as they have maintained their dominance in Offaly, winning an amazing 10 championships in the last 20 years. He was partnered in the middle by one of our selectors. Alan and Anton insisted that Ciaran McManus join him at number 9, Ciaran was happy to agree with them.
Honourable Mentions: Jimmy Grennan (Ferbane), Richie Dalton (Edenderry), Eoin Carroll (Cappincur).
Half Forward Line:
Ballycumber’s Colm Quinn was selected at half forward, Quinn played a large part in the memorable Leinster triumph in 1997 when Offaly toppled a highly fancied Meath outfit, and was also a vital cog for his club side. Rhode legend Pascal Kellaghan was chosen on the 40, his work rate over this era was rewarded with a glittering club career. Again, one of our selectors was chosen on the opposite wing, with Ciaran and Alan opting for Anton Sullivan. And again, he was more than happy to agree with his fellow selectors.
Honourable Mentions: Peter Cunningham (Bracknagh), Roy Malone (Rhode), Aidan Kenaghan (Ferbane).
Full Forward Line:
There were no arguments who the number 13 shirt should be bestowed upon. Niall McNamee was a unanimous choice at corner forward, the Rhode man is arguably Offaly’s most dangerous forward since the great Matt Connor. The trio opted for Vinny Claffey at full forward, the Doon clubman has given some memorable performances for both club and county since the turn of the millennium. And completing the XV is Clara man Thomas Deehan. He helped bring his club to the promised land in 2003 and again in 2009.
Honourable Mentions: Peter Brady (Edenderry), John Reynolds (Clara).
Offaly Club XV 2000-2020
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