With only one game remaining in this year’s hurling championship, we select our hurling All-Star team based on what we have seen so far, bearing in mind the fact that the All-Ireland final has a huge impact on the selction.
The players who are most unlucky to miss out are Daithi Burke of Galway and Ronan Maher and Michael Breen of Tipperary. A good performance in the final will see TJ Reid claim an All-Star but he has yet to set the world alight and will need a big performance in the final.
1. Eoin Murphy
Whichever goalkeeper comes out of Croke Park the happiest on the first Sunday in September is likely to claim the All-Star award. It’s a toss up between Darren Gleeson and Eoin Murphy at the moment but Murphy shades it. His catch over the crossbar to deny Waterford extra time on Saturday evening was simply awesome.
2. Paul Murphy
The Danesfort man is on the way to picking up his fifth All-star. Murphy is a class act for Kilkenny at the back. He has proven to be one of the best in the game at marshalling the best forwards out there.
3. James Barry
This year is the first year in a long time where the full-back position has been keenly contested. Joey Holden of Kilkenny has proven critics wrong while Daithi Burke was superb for the Tribesmen. Barry has been equally good for Tipp and an added appearance at Croke Park in the championship should see the Tipperary star claim the award.
4. Cathal Barrett
The 2014 Young Hurler Of The Year has been in superb form for Tipperary once again this summer. The Holycross-Ballycahill man is one of the tidiest corner-backs in the game. Barrett thrives on the big stage and will hope to deliver another huge performance in three weeks time.
5. Pádraig Walsh
Walsh pips teammate Cillian Buckley to a spot on the keenly contested half-back line. The Tullaroan man has been a dominant presence for Kilkenny to date in this year’s championship and has a huge chance of claiming his first All-star award.
6. Tadhg de Búrca
At six, it was the Déise’s Tadhg de Búrca who got the nod ahead of Ronan Maher. Maher has been hugely impressive for Tipperary but de Búrca has been arguably better for Waterford. Last year’s Young Hurler Of The Year was hugely influential occupying the traditional role at centre-back against Kilkenny. His hurling brain is second to none.
7. Pádraic Maher
A strong candidate for Hurler Of The Year, Maher has been a rock at wing-back for Tipperary. The Thurles Sarsfields man has rediscovered his form of old, and together with his brother Ronan and newcomer Seamus Kennedy, they have formed a hugely impressive Premier half-back line.
8. Jamie Barron
Barron should get more praise than he does. The Fourmilewater man’s engine is simply incredible. His ability to be in the thick of the action at all times is hugely impressive. Despite being short in stature, Barron’s power and pace is evident. His ability to pick up the breaking ball was critical to the Déise’s impressive run this year.
9. David Burke
The Tribesmen captain lead by example this year. Burke’s all-round general play was a joy to behold. Burke dominated each individual opponent he had this summer in an area where it’s so difficult to do so. The St. Thomas’ man had his best year in a Galway shirt.
10. Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher
Bonner Maher may not be the most glamorous forward in the game but in terms of effectiveness and efficiency, the Lorrha and Dorrha man is up there with the best. Maher is a vital cog in the Tipperary team and the 2010 All-Ireland medal winner was superb in yesterday’s semi-final win over Galway.
11. Austin Gleeson
Despite wearing the number six and playing in almost every position for Derek McGrath’s side this summer, we have selected Austin Gleeson as, to date, this year’s All-star centre-forward. Gleeson’s performances this year were simply sublime, littered with moments of utter, unique brilliance. The Déise man will be a force for some years to come.
12. Pauric Mahony
After missing the majority of the Déise’s league campaign, Mahony didn’t hit peak form until the semi-final clash with Kilkenny. However, he delivered one of the best individual displays at Croke Park, delivering an incredible fourteen points. Mahony will be gutted that his late free in the replay against Kilkenny dropped short but he can hold his after a fantastic season fror the Déise.
13. John McGrath
In what is McGrath’s first full season, the Loughmore Castleiney man has delivered a series of fantastic performance for the Premier, most notably his man-of-the-match display in the Munster final. The inside forward has delivered four crucial goals to date this summer for Michael Ryan’s men.
14. Seamus Callanan
Callanan remains the top full-forward in the game by quite some distance. His hurling ability combined with his frightening athleticism means that the Drom and Inch star is arguably the most feared forward in the game. After disappointing yesterday against Galway, Callanan will hope to deliver a massive performance in the All-Ireland final.
15. Richie Hogan
Richie’s class is constantly on show as the Danesfort man never fails to deliver on the big stage. Despite only playing two and a half games this summer, Hogan has scored an impressive thirteen points from play and is the bookies favourite for Hurler Of The Year.
Some big names have been left out of this side due to the fierce nature of this year’s competiton.
Seán Ó Murchú, Pundit Arena