Legendary players of the game have unfortunately retired without winning one of the most sought after prizes, an All-Ireland medal.
It’s a cruel consequence of sport that the likes of Ken McGrath, Ciaran Carey and Ollie Canning retired without having ever lifted the Liam MacCarthy Cup through no fault of their own.
Considering that only five counties have won the All-Ireland in the last decade, there are plenty of talented hurlers who have yet to taste that glory.
But for the purpose of this list, we will be focusing on players who have caught the eye while going above and beyond for their team on numerous occasions since their arrival on the scene.
Let us know who else you would add to our list in the Facebook comments.
Patrick Horgan (Cork).
Since making his debut in 2008, Patrick Horgan has been the star of the show for Cork with numerous accolades including four All-Star awards under his belt.
In 2018, he became Cork’s all-time top scorer in Championship hurling, overtaking the legendary Christy Ring and at 31, he is in the form of his life which was evident in last year’s championship when he scored 3-10 against Cork and was nominated for Hurler of the Year.
Former manager John Meyler believes he is one of the best forwards in the game alongside TJ Reid and Joe Canning.
Shane Dooley (Offaly).
With the surname Dooley, there was always going to be huge expectation on Shane Dooley and he has delivered in spades since his debut in 2007.
The son of the legendary Joe Dooley is the county’s top championship scorer and has been consistently ranked among the top scorers in the country throughout the seasons he has been involved in. Offaly have been hugely reliant on the Tullamore man throughout the years with his pinpoint accuracy and his vision.
While he has no medals at inter-county level, Dooley has three Offaly titles to his name, two of which are in football.
Kevin Moran (Waterford).
One of Waterford’s great servants, Kevin Moran is still one of the Deise’s most important figures on the field, 14 years into his senior career.
Moran has an impressive medal haul with two Munster medals, two National League medals and one All-Star award under his belt. However, despite appearing in two finals in 2008 and 2017, the 33-year-old is yet to taste All-Ireland glory.
Still, his hunger and commitment to the Waterford jersey is as strong as ever and whether posted in midfield or among the forwards, Moran continues to lead by example for the younger generation.
Neil McManus (Antrim).
Neil McManus is one of the best forwards in the game currently, at both club and inter-county level. Having first caught the eye for Ruairi Óg Cushendall, McManus made his senior debut for Antrim in 2007 and has been the county’s best player ever since.
He is consistently among the top scorers in the National League and despite being 32, continues to lead the way in the Joe McDonagh Cup, topping the scoring charts in 2018 before racking up 1-40 during last year’s competition.
Despite coming close at club level, McManus has no All-Ireland titles to his name, though he has five Ulster inter-county medals and two Ulster club titles.
Anthony Nash (Cork).
Anthony Nash has been an incredible servant to Cork since making his league debut in 2006. The Kanturk man had the unfortunate job of playing understudy to Donal Óg Cusack for the early part of his career, but upon Cusack’s retirement, Nash made the goalkeeper jersey his own.
He became a regular starter in 2012, the year in which he scored his first championship goal from a penalty and claimed his first All-Star award. In total, he has scored 5-17 for Cork and has helped transform the role of the goalkeeper in modern times.
Nash added another All-Star to his name in 2013 as he helped guide Cork to an All-Ireland final, while he also boasts four Munster medals.
Conal Keaney (Dublin).
Amazingly, Conal Keaney was nominated for his first All-Star award 17 years ago having stood out from the crowd in a year Dublin failed to progress in the All-Ireland Championship.
Having dedicated years to the cause of the Dublin footballers, Keaney made an outstanding return to the hurling team in 2011 in what was one of Dublin’s best years. At 35, he was one of the county’s best players in the 2018 Leinster Championship where he played a starring role against Kilkenny.
A notable dual player at club level, Keaney has one All-Ireland medal under his belt from Ballyboden St Enda’s historic win in the 2016 football final against Castlebar Mitchels.
(Originally published on May 2, 2020).