Feature: Keeping up appearances

Niall Gartland takes a look at the all- time record championship appearance holders

Stephen Cluxton (118 appearances)

THE man in front is Stephen Cluxton. It seems like the Dublin goalkeeper has been around forever (well let’s forget about that wee sabbatical he took) and he’s streaked ahead of the rest when it comes to all-time championship appearances. Since making his debut back in 2001, he has made a mammoth 118 appearances for Dublin. A few more stats – he’s won nine All-Ireland medals (a record), has won 17 Leinster medals (another record) and is the only player in the history of the game to have captained a team to seven All-Ireland titles. And the word is that he’s back this year for a crack at winning a tenth All-Ireland.

Sean Cavanagh (89 appearances)

WAS Sean Cavanagh the greatest Tyrone player of his generation? There’s plenty of competition among the group of trail-blazing lads who won three All-Irelands between 2003 and 2008, but you could make a legitimate case for the Moy man. He won five All-Stars during his playing career, won the Player of the Match award in the All-Ireland 2008 final having delivered five points from play against Kerry and we could go on. His rampaging style proved nigh-on impossible to stop and he still still hugely influential in the tail-end of his playing career, scoring one of the best ever Ulster final points in the dying stages of a claustrophobic encounter against Donegal in 2016.

Marc Ó Sé (88 appearances)

TIED with brother Tomás, stylish corner-back Marc Ó Sé made 88 appearances for his county stretching between the years 2002 and 2016. He’d a brilliant career in the green and gold, winning the Footballer of the Year award in 2007 and was renowned for his defensive awareness and ability on the ball. He finally hung up the boots in 2016 and in his latter years enjoyed, for want of a better word, many ding-dong battles with Dublin star Bernard Brogan.

Tomas Ó Sé (88 appearances)

ONE of the greatest half-backs ever to play the game, Tomas Ó Sé had everything you want in a defender. Tenacious, skilled and well able to take a point, Ó Sé was the gold standard for many years and by the time he wrapped things up in 2013, had won five All-Irelands and nine Munster titles. They lost a few All-Ireland finals as well but Ó Sé was one of the players who always stood up for the Kingdom in the white heat of battle.

Aidan O’Shea (85 appearances)

THE only outfield player on this list who’s still lining out at intercounty level, O’Shea has certainly had an eventful career for Mayo albeit the big one has proven elusive. For whatever reason he ships a fair bit of flak but you can’t question his commitment levels and he’s still plugging away at the age of 33. He’s won plenty of Connachts – eight of them in total – but coming out on the losing side of six All-Ireland finals is less than ideal. Still, maybe he’ll get another chance before finally hanging up the boots.

Colm Cooper (85 appearances)

ONE of the most accomplished footballers ever to grace the big stage, Colm Cooper was a gem of a forward for a 15-year period for Kerry. Elegant, two-footed and despite his lean stature, almost impossible to dispossess, Cooper wreaked havoc on opposition defences throughout his playing career. He won five All-Irelands for Kerry, losing a couple on the way including his final game in the green and gold, an All-Ireland defeat to Dublin in 2016.

Andy Moran (84 appearances)

ANDY Moran was like a fine wine, playing some of the best football of his career in his thirties and deservedly winning the Player of the Year award in 2017. He played for Mayo at senior level between 2004 and 2019, captaining the team for a sage and winning a bucketload of Connacht titles. He ended up as an All-Ireland runner up on six occasions but it wasn’t for a lack of trying and he was hugely respected across the board.

Darragh Ó Sé (81 appearances)

THE bold Darragh made 81 appearances for his county and was a very familiar face indeed in the number eight jersey of Kerry. Widely regarded as one of the greatest midfielders of all time, he bowed out in the wake of his sixth All-Ireland title success, that being victory over rivals Cork in the 2009 final. He didn’t have the same stature of some of his competitors but his fielding ability was virtually second to none and his distribution was also top class. Won four All-Stars in total.

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere


Gaelic Life is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 10-14 John Street, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, N. Ireland, BT781DW