Brian McEniff selects his best corner backs
Each week, Brian McEniff picks his best players in each position. Last week, he chose his goalkeepers. This week, he turns his attention to the corner-back slots
This week we are moving on to the corner-backs, where some tough operators can be found, especially back in the day. Like most positions, the corner-back position has evolved over the years.
Back in the '50s and '60s the corner-back rarely moved from his position and his job was to mark the corner-forward and maybe take the kick-outs.
But when Donegal won the All-Ireland in 1992, our two corner-backs were playing as much ball as any other player on the field and both Noel Hegarty and Barry McGowan were very comfortable carrying the ball and breaking out of defence at speed.
Over the years Donegal have had a great mix of players who have worn the No. 2 and No. 4 jerseys. John Hannigan was one the best players ever to play for Donegal and while he might have played as a corner-back, he was so versatile, that he could play anywhere - similar to Hegarty and McGowan.
Indeed, like many players, his versatility worked against him at times.
Donal Monaghan from Four Masters was a very good defender and he won an All-Star in 1974 when Donegal won their second Ulster title.
John Joe Doherty of Naomh Columba was an outstanding defender and while he might be regarded as a corner-back, he could play anywhere in defence, as he proved in the All-Ireland final of '92. He won an All-Star in 1993.
Gaoth Dobhair's Eamon McGee was a fine footballer who only really came into his own in the second half of his county years.
Niall McCready, my own godson, was a tenacious player, while one of the current corner-backs Paddy McGrath is 'Mr. Consistency'. He is an unsung hero and has marked many a good player.
In the late 1970s, early '80s Mickey Houston was a regular for Donegal and he won an All-Ireland club medal with Thomond College along with Pat Spillane, Anthony Harkin Brian Talty.
Des Newton came into the Donegal squad in 1983 and made a very big contribution, filling in at corner-back. When I came back as manager in late 1989 I invited him back but he had moved on at that stage.
Tommy McDermott has to get a mention. Would have been on '92 team if he stayed in Ireland.
Frank McGlynn - 'Steady Eddie' of Donegal football, a phenomenal contribution for so many years.
Barry McGowan - a 'Rolls Royce' of a player. Started out as a half-forward but really made his name when switched back; a super player on the ball.
Stephen McMenamin and Eoghan Bán Gallagher are two of the present corner-backs and both have the potential to be as good as anything we have seen.
Noel Hegarty of Naomh Columba, like many Donegal players, was so versatile. You could put him anywhere and he playerd for Ulster as well.
Damien Diver . . . an exceptionally fit, talented player. Played as sweeper against Armagh in 2003. Again could have played anywhere.
And going back the years again, Andy Curran . . . pound for pound as good a corner-back as you could get.
Paul Kelly of Cloughaneely was the corner-back when I came on the scene and he was a very good player who won Sigerson medals with UCD.
It is not an easy choice but the six corner-backs I have chosen are: (with special mention for Andy Curran, Damien Diver and Eamon McGee)
John Hannigan, Donal Monaghan, John Joe Doherty, Frank McGlynn, Barry McGowan and Noel Hegarty.
Outside of Donegal there are have been plenty of good corner-backs who I have seen over the years.
Among them I would include Tom O'Hare of Down; Gabriel Kelly, Cavan; Tony Scullion, Derry; Enda Colleran of Galway; Marc Ó Sé of Kerry; Frank Cogan of Cork; Johnny Carey of Mayo; Keith Higgins of Mayo and Conor Gormley of Tyrone.
The three I would pick are Tony Scullion, Tom O'Hare and Marc Ó Sé
In these unique times I would call on all of you to keep an eye out for your neighbour, call to their houses or 'phone them to see how they are keeping.
Some will be like myself, cocooned, and not allowed out of the house.
They may need some groceries, etc., delivered.
But in urging you all to help out, please adhere to the guidelines regarding washing your hands, keeping your distance, etc.
Be careful and next time we will run the rule over the full-backs.
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