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Hurling In Hell’s Kitchen

by Edited by Jimmy Rhatigan

Seven Kilkenny teams are featured in John Scally’s new book 100 Great GAA Teams. Scally writes of the Kilkenny team of the 1970s:

Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh ranks with the likes of Peter O’Sullevan, Dan Maskell, Bill MacLaren and Micheál O’Hehir as one of the all-time giants of sports broadcasting. 

Who better to canvas for an opinion on the great GAA teams?

“When you talk about the great teams it’s not near as clear cut in hurling as it is in football. 

“Despite achievements under the guidance of Brian Cody, for a certain generation of Kilkenny supporters, the Kilkenny side of 1969-1975 has a claim to be considered the finest ever, and with good reason. 

“That team featured in the side reads like a who’s who of the hurling world, greats such as Eddie Keher, Frank Cummins, Noel Skehan, Liam ‘Chunky’ O’Brien and Pat Henderson to name but a few.

“If I were pushed, I would say that the best hurling team of the last century, with the emphasis on team, that I ever saw was that Kilkenny side.

“It won the All-Ireland in ’72, ’74 and ’75 and played the final in 1973 against Limerick. 


“When I think of Kilkenny’s great games of the time, especially against Wexford that had a great team, but could not get the better of Kilkenny, usually in Leinster finals. I think that Kilkenny team was good in all sectors.

“Take Eddie Keher in the full-forward line, Pat Delaney at centre-forward, Frank Cummins in mid-field, Pat Henderson at centre half-back. They had super men in all parts of the field and played like a team.

“I suppose though I’d have to single out Eddie Keher from that team as one of the all-time greats. 

“I always say to score, we’ll say, a point in All-Ireland final is something special for a player. I could be wrong now but I think its 7 goals and 77 points that he scored in All-Ireland finals alone. 

“What memories must that man have? That tally is a measure of the man’s greatness.

“D.J. Carey became the next great modern star. There is no doubt about it. The crowd got very excited when the ball came towards him. 

“He had speed and tremendous skill. On his day he was unbeatable. 


“You’ll often be asked on the day of a match when a guy shines if he is the greatest player you ever saw. 

“I always say that you have to wait a few years after a guy retires to judge him properly. Eddie Keher played senior for Kilkenny for the first time in 1959 having starred in the minor All-Ireland final that year. 

“The senior final ended in a draw and he was drafted on as a sub for the replay. He was still playing for the seniors in 1977, so apart from his superb skill, that he remained at the top for so long was also a factor.’

“John ‘The Legend’ Doyle was part of the formidable Tipperary full-back line of the 1950s and 1960s known as ‘Hell’s Kitchen’, along with Mick Maher and Kieran Carey. 

“It was a time when in the classic GAA euphemism players had to be able to look after themselves. 

“Few people in hurling were ever better equipped to talk about toughness than Doyle. He described Keher as the toughest man he ever played against.”

100 Great GAA Teams by John Scally is now available in all good bookshops.

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