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Pundit Arena’s All-Star Hurling XV From Championship To Date

With a break in the All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship, we have a moment to catch our breath and reflect on what has been an intriguing competition thus far. 

We have experienced huge shocks in the championship already, not least Galway’s exit in the provincial stages at the hands of Dublin, and Mattie Kenny’s sides subsequent loss to Laois which saw Eddie Brennan’s side reach the final six of the All Ireland series.

Here at Pundit Arena HQ, we take a look over some of the top performers who have lit up the championship and have compiled them into our All-Star team of the season so far.

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1. Enda Rowland (Laois) 

Enda Rowland showed exceptional form throughout the championship but it was his inspired performance that saw Laois over the line against Dublin in the preliminary quarter-final.  The Abbeyleix man pulled off a terrific save in the 48th minute when the Dubs were threatening a revival while it was his two points in the final ten minutes that sealed the famous victory for the O’Moore County.

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2. Seán Finn (Limerick) 

Limerick’s Seán Finn is the most in-form corner-back in the country at the moment. His performance against Clare in the round-robin series was outstanding while he has also proven himself to be one of the best man-markers in the game. Having won his first All-Star in 2018, the Bruff man is well on his way to picking up a second accolade this year.

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3. Pádraig Walsh (Kilkenny)

Pádraig Walsh has drifted between roles throughout this championship, and while Brian Cody has allowed him a freer role out the pitch for many games, Walsh has proven himself well capable in any defensive position.

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4. Jack Kelly (Laois)

Although Jack Kelly is a wing-back for the O’Moore County, in true All-Star fashion, we have pulled him out of position to fit him in the team. Kelly has been in incredible form for Laois this season especially in their two most recent games against Dublin and Tipperary and was deservedly named man-of-the-match in the latter. His catch and point straight from a puckout raised one of the biggest roars in Croke Park that day.

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5. Matthew O’Hanlon (Wexford) 

Matthew O’Hanlon has been in incredible form for Wexford this summer, holding TJ Reid scoreless from play in their round-robin game while he also put in an enormous shift in the Leinster final against the Cats. The co-captain has given an exceptional display of fielding and distribution and seems a shoo-in for his first All-Star award.

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6. Declan Hannon (Limerick) 

Limerick captain Declan Hannon has been in blistering form for the Treaty this year and has been the most consistent starter in their half-back line. One of his best attributes is his vision and distribution while he has also shown that he is not afraid to break forward and knock points over the bar.

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7. Brendan Maher (Tipperary) 

It’s incredible to think that this time last year Brendan Maher was lying on a couch recovering from a cruciate ligament injury such has been his return to form for Tipperary during the championship. He has excelled in his role at wing-back in every game bar the Munster final when he did an admirable man-marking job on Aaron Gillane.

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8. Diarmuid O’Keeffe (Wexford) 

Diarmuid O’Keeffe was named the Player of the Month for June and it wasn’t hard to see why following his display in the Leinster final which was rounded off with two points from play. O’Keeffe has been the most consistent performer for Davy Fitzgerald’s side throughout the championship with an overall tally of nine points so far this summer.

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9. Noel McGrath (Tipperary) 

Noel McGrath looks completely re-invigorated under Liam Sheedy this year and has been a crucial cog in their wheel at midfield. His skill and ability were never in doubt while we are all aware of his scoring threat. However, he has also adopted a more defensive role when needed and seems to be at the epicentre of Tipperary’s positive play.

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10. Mark Kavanagh (Laois) 

Mark Kavanagh’s haul of 50 points throughout the Joe McDonagh Cup and Laois’ subsequent games against Dublin and Tipperary were key to Eddie Brennan’s run in the championship. While the majority of Kavanagh’s scores came from frees, it was also his performances in open play that inspired Laois to crucial victories.

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11. TJ Reid (Kilkenny) 

Kilkenny may not be as reliant on TJ Reid this year as they have been in recent times but his contribution to the team cannot be overstated. The Ballyhale Shamrocks man has registered 5-64 throughout their six games, 1-11 of which has been from play. Reid’s performance against Galway was worth of an All-Star alone.

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12. Gearóid Hegarty (Limerick) 

Gearóid Hegarty has been in phenomenal form for Limerick throughout the league and championship. His presence was badly missed in the round-robin game against Tipperary. His work rate and penetrating runs have proved invaluable while he has also shown himself to be a dangerous finisher with 1-6 in the championship so far.

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13. Alan Cadogan (Cork) 

Alan Cadogan was introduced for Cork in the opening minutes of their game against Limerick and you would never guess that the Douglas man hadn’t played a championship game in almost two years. He injected some badly needed pace into the full-forward line and in the five games he played, he amassed 1-18 from play.

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14. Seamus Callanan (Tipperary) 

Tipperary captain Seamus Callanan has scored a goal in each of Tipperary’s six championship games to date, breaking the county’s goal scoring record along the way. His work rate in open play has been just as impressive with the Tipperary forward often found trekking back to win possession. He seems rejuvenated under Liam Sheedy.

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15. Patrick Horgan (Cork) 

Are there any superlatives left in the English language that haven’t been used to describe Patrick Horgan? He has been Cork’s best player for the last decade and his 3-10 on Sunday against Kilkenny shows just how lethal he can be even when his team are not performing well. If the adjudicators look beyond the semi-finalists, Horgan should also be a contender for Hurler of the Year.

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About Marisa Kennedy

Marisa is a Digital Journalist with Pundit Arena. She is a former reporter with Sporting Limerick and is a huge fan of the GAA. You can contact her at marisa@punditarena.com or on Twitter