Sunday sees the clash of the Cain and Abel of the GAA, the purists favourite sons, Kerry and Galway. This has been a relatively one-sided contest in recent years, and both have experienced stints in the doldrums (although one more so than the other) in the past two decades.
Both have provided some of the finest footballers to lace boots in the modern era here we layout our best combined Kerry/Galway side of the last 20 years.
Goalkeeper – Diarmuid Murphy
One of the safest pair of hands in the business, Murphy showed his worth in 2009 when making a vital, season-saving penalty save against Sligo in the qualifiers.
The three-time All-Star netminder was one of the best in the game and is worthy of his spot in this selection.
(Honourable mention Alan Keane)
Full-back line – Marc Ó Sé, Seamus Moynihan, Seán Óg De Paor
Two Player of the Year awards, eight All-Stars and 14 All-Ireland medals between them – hard to argue with the medal haul of this trio.
(Honourable mention: Finian Hanley, Fionn Fitzgerald Tom O’Sullivan)
Half-back line – Tomás Ó Sé, Aidan O’Mahony, Declan Meehan
Two former Player of the Year winners, and a further twelve Celtic Crosses between them. Ó Sé and O’Mahony held their places in one of the most successful sides of recent time and made an incredible 15 All-Ireland finals appearances between them.
Meehan on the other hand won two Celtic Crosses, numerous Connacht titles, not to mention two All-Stars and a Player of the Year award for good measure.
(Honourable mentions, Killian Young, Ray Silke, Thomas Mannion)
Midfield – Darragh Ó Sé, Kevin Walsh
One of the hardest calls to make was whether to select Walsh or Moran, however Moran’s injury woe has somewhat hindered his progress and therefore effected his selection is this team.
Walsh was one of the best high fielders of his day, and even made an appearance in the Galway IFC final as recently as 2014 at the tender age of 45. For what it’s worth the eldest Ó Sé brother wasn’t half bad either as evidenced by his haul of six All-Ireland medals.
(Honourable mentions Bryan Sheehan, David Moran)
Half-forward line – Declan O’Sullivan, Padraig Joyce, Paul Galvin
O’Sullivan retired in 2014 months after winning his fifth All-Ireland at the relatively early age of 31, due to a constant knee cartilage issue. On retirement, he was lauded as being of the best to have ever donned the famous Green and Gold and rightly so.
Joyce on the other hand had a longer career, retiring at the age of 35. Joyce who claimed two All-Ireland titles, three All-Stars and a Player of the Year would have been a starter on to any team in any era.
Paul Galvin was so good he had to retire twice. He won four All-Ireland titles in his first stint as a player (he also won the 2009 Player of the Year) before stepping away in early 2014. He then performed a remarkable u-turn by re-joining the panel in 2015 and even made a substitute appearance in Kerry’s 2015 All-Ireland final defeat to Kerry, before retiring for good in January 2016.
Honourable mentions (Michael Donnellan, Ja Fallon, Michael Fallon, Darren O’Sullivan)
Full-forward line – Michael Meehan, Maurice Fitzgerald, Colm Cooper
Meehan is perhaps one of the unluckiest players in modern Gaelic games, as despite being the only player on this list not to win either a Celtic Cross or an All-Star, he is widely regarded as the best player to come from west of the Shannon since Padraig Joyce.
He exploded into the national consciousness in 2005 with a remarkable 3-1 in the u-21 All-Ireland final and winning three Connacht senior medals, a Hogan Cup in 2002 with St Jarlath’s and an All-Ireland club medal in 2004 with Caltra. His remarkable potential is regarded as being unfulfilled due to his career being blighted by injury.
Despite initially retiring in 2013 he has since emerged and is part of the 2017 Galway squad and made his first appearance in their recent win over Donegal.
For the majority of Maurice Fitzgerald’s career it looked like an All-Ireland medal would elude him, until he put in one of the finest displays of all time in the 1997 All-Ireland final to (scoring 0-09) to end Kerry’s relative barren period of 11 years without the national crown.
Perhaps his finest moment in a Kerry jersey was his physics defying equalising point in the 2001 quarter-final against Dublin in Thurles. This has become an iconic moment for football, so much so that every score from a sideline since is compared to it.
As for Colm “The Gooch” Cooper, all I can say is that he is probably the most talented footballer on this list and apart from that I find it difficult to put into words how good a footballer he was for club or for county.
(Honourable mention James O’ Donoghue, Mike Frank Russell, Kieran Donaghy)
Michael Keaveny, Pundit Arena
Check out the latest episode of The 16th Man where we looked ahead to Sunday’s All-Ireland quarter-final double-header.