Following our hurling team last week, we’ve decided to compile a team made from football’s most memorable cult heroes. Some of these lads may not have won bundles of All Ireland’s, but their legacy lives on through the status afforded to them by fans. This is the Cult XV.
Goalkeeper: Shane Curran (Roscommon)
The Roscommon goalkeeper was an icon for a generation. Having helped delivered a famous Connacht title for the Rossies in 2001, his swan-song came in 2013, as he captured the All-Ireland club title with St Brigid’s.
This clip embodies the great man. In the following year’s Connacht club final, Curran made a gambit outfield. Unfortunately, the legs weren’t what they used to be, and he was carried off as a result.
Corner Back: Francie Bellew (Armagh)
A hard-hitting, no nonsense corner-back from Crossmaglen, Bellew was perhaps just what Armagh needed. It was no coincidence that the year Bellew broke into the squad was the year the Orchard County finally tasted All-Ireland success. He also captured five All-Ireland club titles during his playing career.
Otherwise known as ‘God’, Bellew retired in 2009. It was short-lived spell at the top, but one full of action, in which he garnered a cult-like following.
Full Back: Darren Fay (Meath)
The latest in a long line of great Meath fullbacks, Fay won two All-Ireland football championships for the Royal County. He was a rock in defence, and enjoyed many the scrap with Dublin at the foot of Hill 16 over the years.
** Contrary to the information on his Wikipedia, he did not in fact get in a fist fight with Mel Gibson over the lead role in Braveheart.
Corner Back: Ryan McMenamin (Tyrone)
Another hard-hitting, no nonsense corner-back. This is not a team corner-forwards would like to face up to. McMenamin was one of the finest defenders in the country over the span of a decade, but will perhaps be remembered for his off the ball antics.
Wing Back: Paul Donnelly (Kilkenny)
A former Kilkenny footballer, Donnelly’s potentially proudest moment came when limiting Dermot Earley of Kildare to just two points in a Leinster Junior Championship game. Representing the everyman, Paul has certainly won a place in our hearts.
Centre-Half Back: Kieran McGeeney (Armagh)
The Messiah has returned to Armagh this year to manage his native county, following a spell in Kildare from 2007-2013. As a player, ‘Geezer’ was the leader of Joe Kernan’s side which captured Sam Maguire in 2002. He also made 12 appearances in International Rules test against Australia, and was certainly not one to back down to a challenge.
He features heavily here:
Wing Back: Kevin Moran (Dublin)
Moran was a key cog in the wheel of Heffo’s Army. While he would finish his career as a soccer player, Moran was immense for the Dubs. Nothing would go by him. Although he was best remembered as a centre-back, we have moved him to the wing to make room of the purposes of this team, and no Irish sports-fan would begrudge him a place in this side.
Midfield: Ciarán Whelan (Dublin)
The Raheny clubman was a stalwart for Dublin in midfield for years, and finished his career with the unwanted tag as possibly greatest player never to win an All-Ireland. His fielding abilities were second to none, and is remembered fondly by the Hill 16 faithful.
Midfield: Ciarán McManus (Offaly)
Perhaps Offaly football has not itself enjoyed a cult following in recent years, but Ciarán McManus’ career spanned across three decades, and dates back to the golden years of the Faithful county. While public interest largely surrounded the county’s hurlers when McManus broke into the squad, he captured a Leinster championship in 1997.
If there was a transfer market in the GAA, McManus would have been on top of many county’s wish-lists. A constant on Irish International Rules team throughout the noughties, McManus was a driving force in the midfield, and those displays merit a place on this side.
Wing Forward: Jimmy Barry-Murphy (Cork)
Eyes of blue, Six foot two, Jimmy Barry we love you!
The Cork icon is still lauded by the Rebel faithful. He could easily have made our hurling team also. Whatever the code, he could do damage. JBM won one All-Ireland inter-county title with Cork, and two club titles with St Finbarr’s.
Centre Forward: Ciarán McDonald (Mayo)
Another player who the opposition loved to hate. McDonald is seen as maybe the finest forward Mayo have ever produced, but final losses to Kerry in 1997, 2004, and 2006 mean he never captured a coveted Celtic Cross.
Wing Forward: Graham Geraghty (Meath)
Love him. Hate him. He was one of the finest footballers of his generation. Geraghty won All-Star Awards in both the backs and forwards. The Meath man led the charge against Australia in the International Rules Series of 2006, and was cited for kneeing Lindsay Gilbee in the head. The Aussies got payback in the second test, and did what every Dublin fan has ever dreamed about, leaving Geraghty unconscious.
Corner Forward: Eoin ‘Bomber’ Liston (Kerry)
With the mere seven All-Ireland titles to his name, the ‘Bomber’ was a machine for the Kingdom. Between 1978 and 1993, the Ballybunion forward scored an amazing 20-50 for Kerry over 39 appearances.
A testament to the great man is that in almost every GAA club up and down the country, and further afield again for that matter, where a big full-forward starts rattling the net on a consistent basis, he is christened ‘The Bomber’.
Full-Forward: Kieran Donaghy (Kerry)
The Star is one of the current players on the side, but has amassed cult status in the southwest with goal after goal for the Kingdom. “Well Joe Brolly, what do you think of that?” Enough said.
Corner Forward: Jason Sherlock (Dublin)
‘Jayo! Jayo! Jayo!’ Sherlock was the darling of the Hill. He did it time and time again for the boys in blue, enjoying All-Ireland success in 1995. Not many ex-players are so fondly remembered in any part of the country.
Babs Keating eat your heart out!
Manager: Jimmy McGuinness (Donegal)
He came, he saw, he conquered.
Brian Barry, Pundit Arena.
Read More About: Bomber, ciaran mcdonald, ciaran mcmanus, ciaran whelan, darren fay, Eoin Liston, francie bellew, Graham Geraghty, Jason Sherlock, Jimmy Barry-Murphy, kevin moran, kieran donaghy, kieran mcgeeney, paul donnelly, ryan mcmenimin, shane curran, Top Story