Since 2000, there have been many great hurling goalkeepers who minded the nets of their beloved county. Here at Pundit Arena HQ, we have shortlisted what we believe to be the top five goalkeepers since 2000.
5.PJ Ryan (Kilkenny)
PJ Ryan makes the list ahead of former-team mate James McGarry, Ryan wasn’t around for long but when he was present between the sticks for Brian Cody’s men, he did a very good job.
From 2007 to 2010, Ryan was Kilkenny’s designated net-minder. During that time, he claimed All-Ireland glory on three occasions, in ’07,’08 and ’09 before suffering disappointment at Croker in 2010 as the Cats’ bid to claim five All-Ireland’s on the trot was halted by Tipperary.
The Fenians clubman will be best remembered for his performance in the 2009 All-Ireland final, where he produced a stunning save to deny Seamus Callanan a certain goal.
4.Davy Fitzgerald (Clare)
After winning All-Ireland titles in 1995 and 1997, Davy Fitzgerald lead the Clare side through the 2000’s. Despite not claiming Munster or All-Ireland honours, Fitzgerald was at the heart of everything good about the Banner side who suffered narrow losses to Kilkenny in the All-Ireland final in 2002 and an agonising one point defeat to Cork in the 2005 All-Ireland semi-final.
Although small in stature, Fitzgerald’s presence between the posts was huge. Better known nowadays for his managerial exploits, Fitzgerald’s playing days are fondly remembered by all hurling folk.
3.Damien Fitzhenry (Wexford)
Simply a class act, Damien Fitzhenry was one of the greatest goalkeepers of the game. Charismatic in character but composed when he was needed, Fitzhenry was renowned for pulling off spectacular saves. The Duffry Rovers man was a member of the Wexford panel from 1993 to 2010 with his career highlight most definitely coming in 1996 when he claimed All-Ireland glory.
Throughout the 2000’s, Fitzhenry was a pivotal player for the Slaney-siders. Fitzhenry claimed Leinster glory in 2004 and also claimed his second All-Star at the end of that season. Fitzhenry was a powerful striker of the ball and managed 5-03 in his 56 championship appearances for Wexford.
2.Dónal Óg Cusack (Cork)
Cusack was instrumental to Cork’s All-Ireland successes in 1999, 2004 and 2005. His pin point accuracy from puck-outs is probably what he will be best remembered for. Defensive organisation and a tactical brain were two other features which Cusack possessed.
The Cloyne man was as consistent a goalkeeper as you could get. His willingness to perform in the heat of the battle in both Thurles and Croke Park saw him claim an All-Star award on two occasions, in 1999 and 2006.
1.Brendan Cummins (Tipperary)
Top of the pile is Tipperary’s Brendan Cummins. The Ballybacon Grange man’s record of five All-Star awards speaks for itself. Consistent and reliable, Cummins went about his business without any fuss. Throughout his 73 appearances in a Tipperary jersey, he claimed five Munster titles, two All-Ireland titles and three National league medals.
After being sensationally dropped in 2007 by then manager Babs Keating, Cummins was re-instated in to the team in 2008 by Liam Sheedy and was a crucial member in Tipperary’s All-Ireland success in 2010 where Cummins and the older generation combined with the rising talent from the county to claim All-Ireland glory.
So there is our list of top five hurling goalkeepers since 2000. Do you agree or disagree? Let us know via our Facebook page or Twitter @PunditArenaGAA.
Seán Ó Murchú, Pundit Arena.