All-Ireland Hurling Final: Who Deserves An All-Star This Year?15:26 Saturday 2 September 2017, 15:26 2 Sep 2017
By five o’clock tomorrow evening, after 28 matches, the curtain will come down on a memorable hurling championship.
From Davy Fitz in his box at the back of the stand in Wexford Park, to Joe Canning’s wonder strike against Tipperary, where the world seemed to stop for that split second.
From Michael Duignan’s tirade on television rights, to Austin Gleeson’s goal against Cork - it has been an unforgettable few months of hurling.
When the seagulls descend on Drumcondra after the final whistle, and the gold bunting is the only colour left in Croke Park, the winners and losers of this year’s championship will be dissected and analysed.
The next question is, who gets the nod for the GAA/GPA All-Star Awards?
Off The Ball’s Seán O’Regan chooses his All-Star XV.
Stephen O’Keeffe (Waterford):
The Ballygunner club man has only been beaten three times in Championship hurling this year (two v Kilkenny and one v Wexford). The five point Munster semi-final defeat to Cork could have been a lot worse if O’Keeffe hadn’t been in fine form that July afternoon. Now coming to the end of his 5th year as part of the Waterford set-up, O’Keeffe is ahead of both Colm Callanan and Anthony Nash for the goalkeeping award.
Waterford's Stephen O'Keeffe. Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Liam Ryan (Wexford):
Ryan was an integral part in Wexford’s march to a first Leinster final appearance since 2008. He played at half back during that famous win over Kilkenny, scoring a point himself and keeping the Kilkenny half forward line to a single score between them. Reverted back to his usual spot in the full back line and had an outstanding year.
Daithi Burke (Galway):
At only 24 years of age, Burke has seemed to have nailed down his spot at number three and is arguably the best full back to come from Galway since three time All-Ireland winner Conor Hayes. With Adrian Tuohey and John Hanbury on either side of the Turloughmore man, he is brilliant under the high ball and has performed well throughout 2017. A confident defender who fears no man.
Galway's Daithi Burke with John McGrath of Tipperary. Image: ©INPHO/Tommy Grealy
Noel Connors (Waterford):
He made his championship debut the year after the 2008 horror show when Waterford hurling was in the doldrums. After years of service to the Deise, Connors is undoubtedly one of the best corner backs in the game, and utilises his ability to read the game. What he lacks in speed, he certainly makes up for in intelligence, and that intelligence has been vital in Waterford’s year to date.
Mark Coleman (Cork):
This time last year, Coleman just received his leaving cert results and was preparing to begin his degree in UCC. Fast forward 12 months, and the Blarney native has impressed the country with his performances in the league and in particular, this year’s championship. It seems that it is a two-horse race for the young hurler of the year with Coleman and Galway’s Conor Whelan the main contenders, but regardless of personal awards, 2017 has been a special year for the 19 year old.
Gearóid McInerney (Galway):
An outstanding performance against Tipperary in the semi-final and has been dominant in the air at centre back from the get-go this year. The shoulder that up ended the man mountain that is Padraic Maher summed up an authoritative performance from the Oranmore man. A fantastic campaign and a shoe-in an All-Star.
Padraic Maher (Tipperary):
“I felt Barry Kelly was a bit harsh on us. There were a few times when I felt the 50/50 ones, he was giving Galway and he’d even give the 60-40 ones we had against us.” Maher wasn’t one bit happy with the referee that day but would have been delighted with his personal performance. At moments when Tipperary were in search of a leader, Maher stepped up to the mark. Impressive throughout the championship.
Jamie Barron (Waterford):
Without a doubt a contender for hurler of the year. With 3-08 from play so far in championship hurling this year, and his pacey bursts at hapless defenders, it’s amazing that he is still only 23 years of age. An All-Star is a certainty. Hurler of the year? If he performs against Galway, he’s in with a great shout.
Kevin Moran (Waterford):
“JT Captain, Leader, Legend” was a permanent fixture at Stamford Bridge for Chelsea’s John Terry. The Waterford County Board should invest in one for their captain Kevin Moran after one of his most impressive seasons in a Waterford jersey. With 1-12 to his name so far, his work rate and opportunistic nature have served the Deise excellently this year and since his debut way back in 2006.
Waterford’s Kevin Moran. Image: ©INPHO/Oisin Keniry
Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh (Waterford):
Walsh won’t have fond memories of All-Ireland finals as he captained Waterford in the 2008 decider when they were on the receiving end of a 3-30 to 1-13 drubbing at the hands of Kilkenny. This year’s final will be Brick’s 70th consecutive championship appearance. A great servant to Waterford hurling who, at the age of 34 still performs brilliantly as a ball winner and supplier, particularly in this year’s campaign. Fond of finding the net too.
Joe Canning (Galway):
Put your house on this man getting an All-Star as well as a Hurler of the Year. The last minute score Big Joe nailed against Tipperary displays the leadership, character, skill level and bottle that the Portumna man possesses. An incredible athlete who is lethal standing when standing over a dead ball.
Galway’s Joe Canning looks on as his late point wins the game.Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie
Seamus Harnedy (Cork):
With 7 points to his name in championship hurling this year, Harnedy has been a vital part of the Cork hurling renaissance. His two points against Clare in the Munster final set the Rebels on their way to only their second provincial title since 2006. The 27 year old has a lot to live up to seeing as his mother Cathy Harnedy (née Landers) won six All-Ireland camogie medals with Cork and was captain of the senior side that won the All-Ireland in 1983. A fine hurler who caused problems for defences across the country this summer.
Conor Whelan (Galway):
Whelan will ease his way to an All-Star this year, if not Young Hurler of the Year. He’s slotted 16 points from play and has turned provider on a number of occasions for Conor Cooney and Cathal Mannion. His selfless play but inherent ruthless and skillful streak has been of great benefit to Galway, and the Tribesmen could do with a massive performance from the Kinvara man on Sunday.
Conor Cooney (Galway):
Galway’s top scorer from play this year with 1-14 and one of the standout performers in the majority of games he plays. A man of the match performance against Wexford in the Leinster final, in which he raised 8 white flags, reiterates Cooney’s brilliance. Granted, his performance in the All-Ireland semi-final against Tipperary was not his greatest 70 minutes, but overall he’s had one of his more impressive campaigns.
Patrick Horgan (Cork):
In 2018, Horgan will be heading into his tenth year as part of the senior team in Cork and this year has been one of his finest. With 39 points to his name in four championship matches, Horgan has put his hand up and is well and truly in contention for a corner forward spot.
Goalkeeper: Anthony Nash (Cork), Colm Callanan (Galway)
Full back line: Adrian Tuohey (Galway), Conor Gleeson (Waterford), Damien Cahalane (Cork)
Half back line: Tadhg de Burca (Waterford), Padraig Mannion (Galway), Diarmuid O’Keeffe (Wexford)
Midfield: Johnny Coen (Galway), David Burke (Galway), Darragh Fitzgibbon (Cork)
Half forward line: Joseph Cooney (Galway), Austin Gleeson (Waterford), Conor Lehane (Cork)
Full forward line: Seamus Callanan (Tipperary), Cathal Mannion (Galway), Shane Bennett (Waterford)
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