For my tuppence worth, I think in terms of basic skills of controlling the ball, first-time striking, moving the ball quickly, etc. certain Offaly players were hard to match. The style played by Offaly was very easy on the eye, probably because they had a good few players who were at the top when it came to such skills. We’re obviously talking about the likes of Troy, Whelahan, the Pilkingtons, etc and some from the team of the 80’s - Brendan Keeshan and the other small wing-back whose name escapes me. To off-set that, they had players who could look after themselves like Ger Coughlan, Pat Delaney, Padraig Horan, Joachim Kelly, Michael Duignam and then guys like Liam Currams with great engines. These players weren’t maybe as skillful as the likes of Troy but were nonetheless integral to Offaly’s successes.
Another fantastic, skillful, Offaly hurler who comes to mind was the late Pat Carroll, who died prematurely. The way he carried on playing the game in duels with a certain Galway defender of that era was amazing, given the filth dished out onto him.
That said, hurling is a game that’s about a lot more than pure hand-eye coordinated skills. Like lots of sports, it comes down to teamwork, character, physical and mental strength, etc. Lump in pure skill with these other assets and it’s clear as day as to who were the greatest hurlers of any generation, and nearly all played under a certain Brian Cody.
As a final word, someone mentioned Michael Duignan’s dirty stroke on Clare’s Forde as being the most memorable thing about Duignan. While you cannot forget such incidences, I think it’s a bit unfair to put that over his better moments. Let’s not forget that Tommy Walsh was prone to the odd dirty stroke here and there, largely getting away with it, most of the time. But he was a fantastic, skillful and wholehearted hurler too, and that’s what I’d rather remember the likes of Walsh, Duignan, etc.