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GAA: O'Rourke still the talk of the town.

WE will never know what might have happened had Colm O'Rourke come onto the pitch earlier in that famous All Ireland final.

Many fans still argue that the flu-ravaged O'Rourke would have won it for Meath against Down.

And you can bet arguments are ready to rage once more over the composition of the Gaelic teams of the Millenium in football and hurling.

Former presidents with referees and journalists will nominate the men they rate as the very best in the 100-year history of the sports.

Those nominations will then be scrutinised by a select committee headed by current president Joe McDonagh.

The chosen few will be featured on special issue stamps from An Post and also immortalised in the GAA's new museum.

The football team will be announced this summer and, pardon my youth, it set me wondering what my all-star team of the past 30 years might be.

At No 15 it would have to be that man COLM O'ROURKE - the current Ireland team boss always was a very special player and he gets my vote over John Egan (Kerry) and Matt Connor (Offaly).

Starting back in goal, the jersey goes to Dublin's brilliant JOHN O'LEARY - the most consistent performer of the past three decades.

One of the best markers in the business and a member of the four Meath sides who reached All Ireland finals between 1997 and '91, ROBBIE O'MALLEY takes the right corner berth.

A master of his trade and among the greatest defenders ever seen, Kerry's JOHN O'KEEFE comes in at full back.

A must on any side, left full back TONY SCULLION won six Railway Cup medals with Ulster, an All Ireland crown and National league titles.

Present Kerry manager PAIDI O'SE could play a bit virtually anywhere in defence and gets the nod at right half back.

Kildare's Glen Ryan and Henry Downey of Derry both present compelling evidence for the No 6 jersey. Sorry boys, but it must go to Cork's STEPHEN O'BRIEN, one of the most exciting players of recent history.

MARTIN O'CONNELL'S brilliant Meath career earns him the vote at left half back while the two midfield spots go to JACK O'SHEA of Kerry and former Tyrone captain EUGENE McKENNA.

McKenna was the driving force behind Tyrone's road to their first All Ireland final in 1986.

Injury during that match forced him off just after half time . . . and that was the real reason Tyrone fell to Kerry.

PETER CANAVAN of Tyrone is one of the genuine stars to emerge in the last decade and takes his place proudly at right half forward.

Tyrone also take the honours at centre half forward in the form of FRANK McGUIGAN. His 11 points from play in the Centenary Ulster final triumph over Armagh was the single most exceptional performance I've ever witnessed.

Sadly, Frank's career was cut short by injury but he gets in ahead of guys of the calibre of Larry Tompkins.

Down's MICKEY LINDEN was inspirational in their two All Ireland wins and thoroughly deserves to take the honours at left half forward, edging out the likes of Martin McHugh (Donegal), Barney Rock (Dublin) and Cork's John O'Driscoll.

Best ever for me at right corner forward, was Kerry's MIKE SHEEHY - sheer class and his cheeky goal against Paddy Cullen will live long in the memory.

Any team without Sheehy just wouldn't stand up.

Full forward and again Kerry get the nod in the shape of EOIN LISTON, not the most mobile but a player of rare talent.

So there you have it, Gaelic Gossip's top football team from the last 30 years. Is that an argument I hear breaking out there?
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 31, 1999
Words:611
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