Wow, this proved to be a seriously tough task with our selection committee consistently butting heads on who to include and who to leave out.
In the end, we’ve narrowed it down to our final XV but when you look at the list of players [see below] we haven’t included, we’re sure to find ourselves in hot water.
Before you check out our 1990s select team why not have a look at some of our other Gaelic football select XV’s and let us know which changes you would make.
Pundit Arena’s Ultimate Gaelic Football Team Of The 2010s
Pundit Arena’s Ultimate Gaelic Football Team Of The 2000s
Pundit Arena’s Select XV Containing One Player Per County
Pundit Arena’s Select XV Of Gaelic Footballers Fit To Beat The Dubs On All-Ireland Day
Pundit Arena’s Hardman Xv of the 21st Century
Pundit Arena’s Select XV Of Players To Retire Without An All-Ireland Medal
Remember: Only three players per county can be included in the selection.
1 – John O’Leary (Dublin)
Faced stiff competition from Neil Collins of Down who probably should have won an All-Star in the early nineties. However, it’s hard to look past O’Leary who picked up three All-Star awards in a row between 1993-95, nine years after lifting the first of consecutive awards in 1984-85. Captained Dublin to the 1995 All-Ireland title. An easy-enough selection in truth.
2 – Kieran McKeever (Derry)
Whilst Derry won just one All-Ireland and two Ulster titles in the nineties, they were consistently recognised as one of the best teams in the country as shown by their four League titles between 1991 and 2000. Hence, we have three very justified selections from the Oak Leaf county on this team. However, there is one glaring omission.
Anyway, Kieran McKeever, alongside his corner-back compatriot, are repeatedly earmarked as one of the toughest defenders around in an era where they were all tough. Not many could argue with his selection here.
3 – Steven O’Brien (Cork)
Won an All-Star at full-back in 1990 so we have shoe-horned the Nemo Rangers man at number three on this selection. In truth, probably played his best football in the half-back line were he won a further two All-Star awards in 1994 and 1995. O’Brien even lined out at centre-forward for his club in the 2003 All-Ireland club final. If Steven O’Brien’s trips all over the field rove one thing, it’s that he could play full-back on this team easily.
4 – Tony Scullion (Derry)
An almost mythical figure around Ulster. A four-time All-Star winner and one of the first names on this teamsheet. Scullion, like McKeever, is regarded as one of the best defenders and highest man-markers to ever play the game. What also stands out about both Derry corner-backs on this team is that many felt they could have been among the best hurlers in Ireland had they dedicated themselves solely to the small-ball.
5 – Paul Curran (Dublin)
Our second Dublin player to make the cut. Curran is regarded as one of the best wing-backs of the 1990s. Vice-captain on the Dublin team that finally made the breakthrough in 1995, Curran was named Texaco Footballer of the Year following the victory. There wasn’t much pushback against including the triple All-Star winner in this one.
6 – Martin O’Connell (Meath)
This one caused debate as many feel that Martin O’Connell’s best days came in 1987 and 1988 when Meath collected back-to-back All-Ireland titles, however, O’Connell’s selection here cannot be understated enough. He captained the Royals to All-Ireland glory in his final season, 1996, while also picking up a Texaco Footballer of the Year award along the way. O’Connell was also named on the Team of the Millenium, that alone, plus the three-player rule, ensures he’s here instead of Henry Downey.
7 – Sean Og de Paor (Galway)
The defining wing-back of the 1990s and an easy selection in this team. Success may not have come to Galway until John O’Mahony’s arrival in 1997. Regardless of that, de Paor was already one of the premium wing-backs in the country and proved central to Galway’s success in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Picked up two All-Stars and represented Ireland four times in the International Rules series.
8 – Anthony Tohill (Derry)
Earlier this year, we ran a week-long poll asking our readers to choose the best midfielder of the All-Stars era. After five days of voting, Anthony Tohill made it to the final alongside Jack O’Shea (winner), Darragh O’Se, Brian Fenton and Brian Mullins, not bad company at all. A four-time All-Star winner and one of the best players in Gaelic football history, possibly the easiest selection here.
9 – John McDermott (Meath)
Tohill’s midfield partner was also quite easy to choose. John McDermott starred for Meath throughout the entire decade picking up three All-Star awards along the way. A huge presence around the middle third. A lot of Meath players could easily have been squeezed into this selection, we’re happy that we settled with McDermott.
10 – Ja Fallon (Galway)
Our second Galway selection goes to wing-forward Ja Fallon. As silky a half-forward as there was with the longevity to boot having made his senior inter-county debut in 1992 before announcing his second retirement in 2007. GAA Footballer of the Year in 1998, not many will argue with this selection. Teammates Padraic Joyce and Michael Donnellan also make a huge push to be selected, however, they have been included in our team of the 2000s.
11 – Greg Blaney (Down)
Talk to anyone who saw Greg Blaney play in the flesh and they will utter a single word. Genius. Blaney could do it all and was an integral part of Down’s early nineties surge that saw them win two All-Ireland titles in 1991 and 1994. A playmaker, known for his courage around the middle third, especially when it came to breaking ball. As good a number 11 as the game has seen.
12 – Trevor Giles (Meath)
Since the GAA brought in their official Footballer of the Year award in 1995, only Trevor Giles has won the award twice. He picked up the award in 1996 and 1999, the same two seasons he won All-Ireland titles with Meath which sums up just how important he was to that great team. A toss-up between himself, Graham Geraghty, Tommy Dowd (and Colm O’Rourke but the 80s was his heyday) for the last Meath selection.
13 – Mickey Linden (Down)
Mickey Linden is nearing 60 and is still hard at it with Mayobridge reserves and is one of the fittest players in Ireland still to this day. Edges into the full-forward line ahead of James McCartan, Linden was a monumental presence on those great Down teams and is a legend in the Mourne county.
14 – Peter Canavan (Tyrone)
Didn’t make our team of the 2000s because he is on the record himself stating that his best football was played in the nineties. Peter Canavan kicked 0-11 in the 1995 All-Ireland final en route to winning GAA Footballer of the Year. He’s one of the best players to ever play the game and an easy choice on this team.
15 – Maurice Fitzgerald (Kerry)
What’s a select XV without a Kerry representative! While the decade may have been a slow one for the Kingdom they did have a standout star in Maurice Fitzgerald who is still highly regarded as one of Kerry’s greatest ever players, now that is high praise indeed. Without him, Kerry would not have ended their 11-year famine in 1997. Simple as that.
Darren Fay (Meath)
Henry Downey (Derry)
Martin McHugh (Donegal)
Tony Boyle (Donegal)
Charlie Redmond (Dublin)
Declan Browne (Tipperary)
Graham Geraghty (Meath)
James McCartan (Down)
Enda Gormley (Derry)
Seamus & Mickey Quinn (Leitrim’s only All-Stars)
James Nallen (Mayo)
Tommy Dowd (Meath)
Keith Barr (Dublin)
Liam MacHale (Mayo)
Fay Devlin (Tyrone)
Kevin O’Brien (Wicklow)