BRIAN MCENIFF COLUMN: Brian's best five players from each decade from last 50 years

BRIAN MCENIFF COLUMN: Brian's best five players from each decade from last 50 years

Brian McEniff

This week Brian McEniff in his column picked his best five players from each decade from the last 50 years - an onerous task.

Tony McTague (Offaly)
A deadly freetaker. There were some erratic freetakers in that era but Tony never missed. I had the task of marking him in 1972 and he was a good playmaker. Although small in stature, he was very tough.

Brian Mullins (Dublin)
Mullins was a man apart, a driving force for that Dublin team. Even though he was young, he was a born leader. I remember being asked at the time what three players would you to for in a transfer market and he was top of my list.

Pat Spillane (Kerry)
Before he got injured, he was just special. Could have been selected in any decade. There is very little to add about him, he was just a natural.

John O'Keeffe (Kerry)
He was the great full-back of the era. He had won an All-Ireland in 1970 and started out at midfield. Would have played with some average corner backs, but he man managed things.

Ray Cummins (Cork)
Cummins was an exceptional talent. I'm quite sure if he had concentrated on football that Cork would have won more than one All-Ireland. But his talent for hurling was also exceptional.

Matt Connor (Offaly)
Although his career was cut short in his mid 20s, Connor would have made any team of that decade. Without doubt one of the most natural footballers of his time. Such a pity that we didn't get to see him in later years.

Jack O'Shea (Kerry)
Without doubt one of the stand-out footballers of his time. Winner of a footballer of the year, he was not just a midfielder, but had the engine to cover every blade of grass on the field.

Larry Tompkins (Cork)
When he arrived in Cork in the 1980s, he changed the football landscape in that county. Was a real leader and went on to win two All-Irelands with the Rebels and it could have been more.

Colm O'Rourke (Meath)
Colm O'Rourke's Meath had been in the shadows of Dublin for some time but he was a leader when they finally emerged from the shadows in the second half of the 1980s. A very strong player who could also get a score.

Mikey Sheehy (Kerry)
One of the most natural forwards we have seen over the years. Seemed nonchalant but was also tough and very, very accurate.

Padraic Joyce (Galway)
A fantastic footballer, who used his backside to great effect. Had a sweet left foot and could create or take a score. His goal against Kildare in the All-Ireland final was exceptional.

Martin McHugh (Donegal)
McHugh was our Michael Murphy of that era. You only have to look back at matches, his second half against Derry in the Ulster final; his first half against Dublin in the final; his point in Breffni Park. There are so many things you can point to. Was leading scorer for Donegal in eight seasons.

Anthony Tohill (Derry)
When speaking of Tohill, you don't have to add much. He was just a Rolls Royce. His second half performance against Donegal in the 1993 Ulster final comes to mind; but there were so many days when he just dominated.

Mickey Linden (Down)
On his day, he was unmarkable and won games on his own. He was a great scoretaker, goals or points. in 1991 his goal set up Down to defeat Donegal in Ulster final and they went on to win the first of two All-Irelands in that decade.

Graham Geraghty (Meath)
I managed Graham at International Rules and he was both a half-back or a half-forward. He had a great capacity to score; a super athlete with great balance and great confidence.

Peter Canavan (Tyrone)
What can you say. For a man of his size, he punched way above his weight. We remember him coming off injured in the All-Ireland going back in again to manage the win; his goal against Kerry, after the pass from Mugsy will be forever in the mind.

Seamus Moynihan (Kerry)
If ever there was a Rolls Royce footballer. I had the pleasure of managing him in Australia in the International Rules. You had to be there to see how good he was.

Sean Cavanagh (Tyrone)
Whether at midfield or at full-forward was always a powerhouse for Tyrone. Had a great sidestep and was an exceptional scoretaker. Won Footballer of the Year and also won an All-Ireland with his club.

Kieran McGeeney (Armagh)
McGeeney was a born winner. Maybe not a classy footballer, but was the most driven footballer that I ever seen or worked with.

Tomas Ó Sé (Kerry)
Ó Sé was a very consistent performer for Kerry over a long period. Could be a man marker but also was great at getting forward up the win and taking a score. A fierce competitor, he also won a Footballer of the Year award.

Brian Fenton (Dublin)
Fenton has never lost a championship game since making his debut; that says it all. Twice a Footballer of the Year and his best may be yet to come.

Michael Murphy (Donegal)
The best way I can describe him is recently I had the pleasure of meeting Larry Tompkins in his pub in Cork and Tompkins says Murphy has been the best footballer in Ireland for the last 10 years.

Lee Keegan (Mayo)
I was talking to Martin Carney recently and he said Keegan at his best was exceptional. He could man mark or drive forward and score goals. Was really unlucky not to win an All-Ireland.

Stephen Cluxton (Dublin)
Cluxton, revolutionised the game with his place kicking and his kick-outs. Seven All-Irelands says it all. Apart from that he was also a great shot stopper for the Dubs.

Colm Cooper (Kerry)
Anyone would pay money to see The Gooch when he was at his best. I saw a re-run of a game Kerry v Cork and he tormented Cork throughout. He was outstanding for his club Dr Crokes as well.

(I could name another 10 for each of those decades, such was the talent that was on show, the likes of Greg Blaney of Down in the 1990s or James McCarthy, Dublin in recent times).

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