As it’s St. Patrick’s Day, we’ve decided to compile a team made from hurling’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: Niall Patterson (Antrim)
Widely regarded as one of the slowest players ever to play the game Patterson had all the qualities to become a Junior B goalkeeper but instead represented Antrim in the 1989 All- Ireland final and won an All-Ireland club title with Loughgiel Shamrocks in 1983. Not a bad haul by any stretch of the imagination.
Right Corner Back: Mick ‘The Rattler’ Byrne (Tipperary)
Winner of four All Ireland titles and one of the toughest corner backs to ever play the game.
The Rattler achieved real cult hero status when he gave a masterclass in entertainment on one of the most memorable ‘Up for the Match’ episodes in recent memory in 2010. This documentary looks back on the career of one the GAA’s original cult heroes.
Full Back: Diarmuid ‘The Rock’ O’Sullivan (Cork)
Our leader and captain, The Rock was possibly the most iconic full-back of all time and one of the first names on this team sheet. Those who remember his point against Limerick from well inside his own half can see why.
He’s a legend of the game and once played a football and hurling match in the same afternoon for his county. Dedication.
Who needs a hurley anyway?
Left Corner Back: Richie McCarthy (Limerick)
Nobody gets the Treaty fans going like full-back Richie McCarthy and fans have been singing the “Richie McCarthy Song” from the Gaelic Grounds all the way to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
The fans of Premier League side Crystal Palace even stole the song:
Right Half Back: James Hickey (Carlow)
The Mount Leinster man described winning the Leinster Club Championship last season as “Just Europa” on RTE news.
He then pulled on the heartstrings of every hurling fan with his “I want to go to Croke Park” speech in the AIB Club championships Advert making him a worthy addition to this team.
Centre Back: Joe Brady (Offaly)
The former Offaly forward thrilled hurling lovers in 2011 when at the age of 31 he gave a number of swashbuckling performances at centre back to lead his club Coolderry to Leinster Championship glory.
Left Half Back: Tony Browne (Waterford)
A legend of the game, Browne played 23 straight Championship seasons for Waterford achieving admiration throughout the nation and prompting Facebook fans to start a petition to have a statue built in his honour in Waterford.
Midfield: Johnny Pilkington (Offaly)
The Offaly faithful adored the two-time All Ireland winner’s rebellious side and his love of his county while us neutrals were treated to his brilliant quotes, such as:
“Of course we are taking it seriously, this is a big game for Offaly, we are training hard and some of the lads have been off the beer since Tuesday.”
Midfield: John Mulhall (Kilkenny)
Mulhall was part of the Cats’ All Ireland-winning team in 2011. Following the victory he blasted out his famous “Super Cats” song on stage in Kilkenny, endearing himself to Kilkenny fans for the remainder of his years.
Right Half Forward: Paul Codd (Wexford)
The former Wexford hurling captain was capable of lifting the volume levels of Croke Park in an instant. The free taker would discard his trademark white helmet to signal to fans he was going for goal prompting a stream of excitement amongst fans and commentators.
Centre Forward: Johnny Maher (Galway)
Johnny Maher came to national attention after his outburst at the end of the 2012 county final, racking up thousands of views on YouTube and taking no prisoners whatsoever.
Despite his county final ‘episode’, Maher is one of the most talented hurlers in his county winning countless Galway All Stars. However, he has never donned the maroon and white of Galway at senior level. He did however lead his beloved club Loughrea to the All-Ireland final in 2006.
Left Half Forward: Micheal ‘Babs’ Keating (Tipperary)
Love him or hate him nobody can deny that Babs has been one of the great personalities in the game. He earns his selection on this team for his decision to play the second half of the All-Ireland final in 1971 in his bare feet.
Right Corner Forward: Ronan Badger (Galway)
Badger is youngest member on our team and terrorised defences en route to Galway’s All Ireland minor Championship win in 2009. The crowd-pleasing, long-haired full forward’s goal scoring tally on his path to the final prompted fans to brandish the banner “The Badger will Eat the Cat” in the final against Kilkenny.
Full Forward: Gareth ‘Magic’ Johnson (Down)
While probably the least known member of our Cult XV, those that know Johnson will verify his heroic status with his native county Down producing miraculous goals time and time again including his winner in the 2013 Christy Ring Cup final.
The 6ft 5 full forward has represented Ireland in Shinty on numerous occasions and with a name like Magic how could he not feature on this team.
Left Corner Forward: Paul Flynn (Waterford)
Flynn was a laidback hurler who played for Waterford for fourteen years. Rumoured to have the strongest strike in hurling history, he was firm believer in the notion that skill conquers all and produced numerous marvellous performances that amazed fans over and over again.
Few will forget his ground-hurling goal against Diarmuid ‘The Rock’ O’Sullivan and Cork in the Munster Championship in 2005.
James Donoghue, Pundit Arena