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Dub club team of decade

Cuala, Boden and Crokes dominate our selections as power base of hurling moves to the Southside

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It’s a close run thing whether Seán Moran (pictured) or Paul Ryan is the outstanding club hurler in Dublin over the last decade

It’s a close run thing whether Seán Moran (pictured) or Paul Ryan is the outstanding club hurler in Dublin over the last decade

SPORTSFILE

It’s a close run thing whether Seán Moran (pictured) or Paul Ryan is the outstanding club hurler in Dublin over the last decade

In a decade during which two clubs hoarded eight county titles between them in even-sized piles, it comes as no jolting surprise that a notional Dublin SHC 'Team Of The 2010s' is densely populated with players from Ballyboden St Enda's and Cuala.

Throw in Kilmacud Crokes' pair of successes in 2012 and '14 and presented below is an almost exclusively Southside XV, a flashing neon sign of the changed demographic of Dublin hurling.

A quick glance at the honour roll on the decade just past reveals the Southward migratory pattern of the power base of Dublin hurling, with just three Northsiders among the 20 senior hurling finalists of the 2010s.

St Brigid's in 2019, O'Toole's 2011 and St Vincent's in 2010.

That lopsided heat map of success is reflected here.

The criteria for our selection is simple and imprecise.

Only performances submitted in the Dublin county championship are admissible as evidence.

Con O'Callaghan, by way of roaring example, is the Dublin hurler who has performed to the highest level in the provincial and All-Ireland club series.

But his input into Cuala's four Dublin SH titles of the last decade hasn't been quite as substantial as some of his team mates or rivals.

The chief arbiter of the selection are the Herald/Dublin Bus Dubs Stars awards, bestowed annually upon the best club players in football and hurling.

Which explains an immediately obvious anomaly.

Kilmacud Crokes (two county titles, five final appearances) have just two players in our best-of-decade pick, while Lucan Sarsfields (once beaten finalists) have three.

The reason is effectively the same one as to why Crokes have been more successful than Lucan: depth of quality.

What's striking from looking back through the Dubs Stars selections in the decade just past is the sheer number of different Crokes players (18) who have been honoured with individual awards.

Each year, different players have shone.

Similarly, Ballyboden started the 2010s with a defence built around Stephen Hiney, Darragh Spain, Malachy Travers and Stephen Nolan, but who had made way for a younger crop by the decade's midpoint.

By contrast, Lucan's consistent presence at the back end of the Dublin SHC was driven primarily by a small cabal, who did it year on year, right through the decade.

Otherwise, it's only natural that the Team of the Decade is dominated by the teams that dominated the decade.

The likes of Michael Carton, Gary Kelly and Alan McCrabbe were outstanding for O'Toole's and Craobh Chiaráin respectively as their clubs faded as championship forces, albeit Craobh have been resuscitated of late.

Alan Nolan's three Dubs Stars, all as replacements, represents a fine haul given St Brigid's only made in one final in the relevant time frame.

But like Danny Sutcliffe, who led St Jude's to two county deciders this decade and won Hurler of the Year in 2014, intense competition in his position with multi-county-title winners means missing out.

Ditto Shane Stapleton, once of St Pat's, but more recently a Kilkenny SHC winner with Dicksboro, who won two Dubs Stars awards with the Palmerstown club.

Paul Schutte, Ger McManus, Ryan O'Dwyer and Dáire Plunkett are also among those who fall just the wrong side of tight calls.

 

1 Gary Maguire (Ballyboden St Enda's)

Three goalkeepers dominated the Dubs Stars award in the 2010s; Maguire, Seán Brennan and Matt Collins. Brennan was club Hurler of the Year last season but for sheer consistency of excellence throughout the relevant span of time, Maguire shades it.

2 Niall Corcoran (Kilmacud Crokes)

Man of the match in the 2012 final, a seven-point victory over a Cuala team yet to fully emerge, and a solid campaigner for a dozen years until rejoining his home club in Galway, Meelick-Eyrecourt earlier this year.

3 Cian O'Callaghan (Cuala)

His younger brother drew more attention to himself than any player in the county over the past four years due to his powerful interpretation of full-forward play in two codes.

But Cian has solidified the Cuala square with some blunt force of his own.

4 Ger O'Meara (O'Toole's)

O'Meara's four Dubs Stars (two as replacement) in the decade just past is an altogether more impressive haul when you consider O'Toole's made just one county final in the last decade, losing heavily to Kilmacud Crokes in 2011.

5 Chris Crummey (Lucan Sarfields)

Three of Crummey's Dubs Stars awards were won in his seemingly natural habitat in the Lucan half-back line but his most recent, 2019, was as a forward. It's a role he may reprise this autumn/winter with Dublin.

6 Seán Moran (Cuala)

It's a close-run thing as to whether Moran or Paul Ryan is the outstanding club hurler of the decade in Dublin. The deeply classy Cuala centre-back has been more influential than any on their successes in four of the last five years.

7 Johnny McCaffrey (Lucan Sarsfields)

The former Dublin captain has three Dubs Stars awards for his toil in bringing Lucan to five county semi-finals and one final in the decade just past. Outstanding in 2013, the year of their only final.

8 Darragh O'Connell (Cuala)

Revealed a new dimension to his game as a wing-forward last year but scored 0-3 in the 2015 county final and an important goal in the 2017 decider in his more customary role in midfield. The source of endless energy for Cuala.

9 Shane Durkin (Ballyboden St Enda's)

Anthony Daly was certain Durkin wouldn't be fit for the 2018 county final replay with Crokes when he had to be carried past him at the end of the draw. Remarkably, Durkin played a week later, and won his seventh county title.

10 David Treacy (Cuala)

Club hurler of the year in 2016, as Cuala stitched back-to-back county titles together. Five Dubs Star awards. Scored 0-12 from frees in last year's county final, as Cuala only belatedly put a gap between themselves and St Brigid's.

11 Colm Cronin (Cuala)

Captained Cuala to the most recent of their county titles but his performances in deciders have been outstanding, scoring 1-2, 1-3 and 0-2 - all from play - in the 2015, '16 and '17 finals respectively.

12 Ross O'Carroll (Kilmacud Crokes)

A warrior for Crokes in bad times and good. Captained them in 2012 to a first county title in 27 years. Scored a goal and made another in their extra-time victory over St Jude's in 2014. Won one of his five Dubs Stars at wing-back.

13 Kevin O'Reilly (Lucan Sarsfields)

The stats don't lie. O'Reilly, a gifted placed-ball specialist, won four Dubs Stars between 2011 and 2016. Scored 0-4 from play - and 0-7 in total - in the 2013 county final, on a day when Lucan managed just 0-10.

14 Conal Keaney (Ballyboden St Enda's)

Started winning Dubs Stars in both codes before the turn of the decade but has been a monumental influence on Boden's success. Man of the Match in both the 2013 and '18 (replayed) county finals.

15 Paul Ryan (Ballyboden St Enda's)

Easily the most consistent forward in Dublin in the past decade. Arguably, the best club hurler of the last ten years in the capital - full stop. Four county titles. Six Dubs Stars awards. Hurler of the Year in 2018.