Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon
It is one thing picking your own ‘All-Time Hurling XV’ but when one of the legends of the game does it, such as former Galway and Tipperary goalkeeper Tony Reddin, you tend to take a bit more notice.
Reddin’s home in Banagher is dotted by pieces of paper. His musings rest on the mantelpiece, the window sill and kitchen table. His greatest teams, be it the greatest Kerry football XV or his best hurling XV of all time. His wife Maura must be killed picking up after him.
They are a dynamic duo though, Tony and Maura. Made for each other. And the laughter that fills the house over this particular three hours is heart-warming. When her 94-year-old husband has trouble remembering a name, she jumps in with the answer. They look out for each other.
However, back to Reddin, arguably the greatest hurling goalkeeper ever to grace the game, and the A2 sized page of his ‘All-Time Hurling XV’. Names have been written down and lines crossed through them and he admits his line-up often fluctuates. It’s a tough business.
On this occasion, Offaly duo Martin Hanamy and Brian Whelehan and Wexford pair Billy Rackard and Jim English lose out in defence; and Phil Shanahan from Tipperary is replaced by Wexford’s Dan Quigley in midfield, where he joins Cork’s Jack Lynch.
In goals, he gives the nod to Kilkenny’s Noel Skehan, with Cork full-back Con Murphy and Tipperary corner backs Mickey Byrne and John Doyle completing the line. Two more of his Tipp team-mates Jimmy Finn and Pat Stakelum feature in a half-back line that also includes Galway’s Pete Finnerty.
Quigley and Lynch form his midfield pairing but what about this for a forward unit! Christy Ring (Cork), Henry Shefflin (Kilkenny) and Joe Cooney (Galway) on the ‘40 with Jimmy Doyle (Tipperary), Joe Canning (Galway) and Eddie Keher (Kilkenny) making up the inside trio.
With any such line-up, there is sure to be a great deal of debate, particularly with no DJ Carey of Kilkenny in it. Yet one thing is clear. Reddin is extremely knowledgeable and, mentally, as alert to the mechanics of the game as ever.
As a player, he was phenomenal, underlined by his selection on the ‘Team of the Century’ (1984) and ‘Team of the Millennium’ (2000). With Tipperary, the Mullagh native won three All-Ireland titles between 1949 and ’51, in addition, of course, to three Munster crowns in the same period.
He also has six National League medals and five Railway Cup medals – playing in seven finals for Munster – while, at club level with his adopted club of Lorrha he won two North Tipperary senior hurling championships in 1948 and ’56, and later coached St. Rynagh’s to a plethora of county titles, including their first in 1965.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune