What clubs have provided the most All-Ireland winning Hurling captains?

Hurler hitting ball

Words by Shane Stapleton

Brendan Maher became the latest man to lift the Liam MacCarthy Cup in September 2016, following some enduring footsteps up the steps of the Hogan.In the following days, a photo was taken of the midfielder sitting down having a drink with Jimmy Finn, his fellow Borris-Ileigh clubman who had lifted the same title 65 years earlier aged just 20.

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They are among four men from their parish to lift the title but neighbours Thurles Sarsfields, eight miles out the road, have actually produced twice as many victorious captains.Because of Jimmy Doyle and Tom Semple — after whom the good field is named — both lifting the crown twice, Sars have actually seen their eight Tipp captains bestowed with the honour on ten occasions. Club fuelling county, indeed,

For a club that has produced so many great players, it’s noteworthy that they have to go back 51 years for the most recent Thurles man to do it, Mick Murphy.

Blackrock’s wait isn’t as long but they still have to rewind 30 years to Tom Cashman’s day when Cork beat Galway, with Jimmy Barry-Murphy scoring the last point in his final game for the Rebels. Two years earlier, 1931 hero Eugene ‘Eudie’ Coughlan was presented to the crowd before the centenary All-Ireland in 1984 and was at that time the oldest living winning captain aged 85. Another Rockies man, Ray Cummins, has an incredible record of success having won All-Irelands and All Stars in both codes, not to mention Sigerson and Fitzgibbon crowns. Captain duties followed in 1976.

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Ballyhale Shamrocks have been hugely successful in recent years and have had plenty of chances to nominate the Kilkenny leader, during which time the Cats have been so dominant.Four times in the past decade they have had a winning captain. In 1979 Ger Fennelly became the first Shamrocks man to lift Liam, before his brother Liam lifted the title in 1983 and again nine years later in ’92.

Five Glen Rovers stalwarts have led Cork to glory, including in 1942 a man who would have two terms as Taoiseach, win five hurling and one football All-Ireland medals, and be named midfield on the hurling team of the millennium.Christy Ring would eventually follow that man, Jack Lynch, onto that famous selection on the way to lifting the Liam Mac on three occasions.

Bennettsbridge and St Finbarr’s join Borris-Ileigh on four apiece. Noel Skehan joined the Kilkenny panel in 1963 but only became first-choice in 1972 when he was also named captain. The Bridge man finished the year with his first Leinster and All-Ireland titles as a playing member of the team, lifting the cup, and topping it off with an All Star.Barr’s man Mick Kennefick, a father-in-law of Jimmy Barry-Murphy, was only 19 when in 1943 he set the record for youngest ever All-Ireland-winning captain. A broken wrist suffered in 1944 against Tipperary meant he never again played for the county.

Thurles — 8
Jim Stapleton 1887
Tom Semple 1906, 1908
John Joe Callanan 1930
Jimmy Lanigan 1937
John Maher 1945
Tony Wall 1958
Jimmy Doyle 1962, 1965
Mick Murphy 1964

Blackrock — 7
John ‘Curtis’ Murphy 1893
Stephen Hayes 1894
Stephen Riordan 1903
Sean Og Murphy 1926, 1928
Eugene ‘Eudie’ Coughlan 1931
Ray Cummins 1976
Tom Cashman 1986

Ballyhale Shamrocks — 6
Ger Fennelly 1979
Liam Fennelly 1983, 1992
Henry Shefflin 2007
James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick 2008
Michael Fennelly 2009
Joey Holden 2015

Glen Rovers — 5
Connie Buckley 1941
Jack Lynch 1942
Christy Ring 1946, 1953, 1954
Martin O’Doherty 1977
Tomas Mulcahy 1990

Borris-Ileigh — 4
Sean Kenny 1950
Jimmy Finn 1951
Bobby Ryan 1989
Brendan Maher 2016

Bennettsbridge — 4
Mickey Kelly 1957
Seamus Cleere 1963
Jim Treacy 1967
Noel Skehan 1972

St Finbarr’s — 4
Mick Kennefick 1943
Sean Condon 1944
Gerald McCarthy 1966
Charlie McCarthy 1978