We were treated to two cracking hurling quarter-finals over the weekend with Clare and Limerick edging their way into the All Ireland semi-finals at the expense of Wexford and Kilkenny. As a result, there’s plenty of competition in our Hurling Team of the Week.
1 Eoin Murphy (Kilkenny)
Every week he plays, his name ends up on one team of the week sheet or another. He is in a league of his own in the goalkeeping circles and his name should be engraved permanently into the All Star award. It was his stunning saves yesterday that kept Kilkenny in the game and frustrated Aaron Gillane and Seamus Flanagan repeatedly.
Murphy, like the rest of his team, will be disappointed with the loss yesterday but none of the blame can fall on his shoulders.
Aaron Gillane gets the point after a superb save from Kilkenny's Eoin Murphy! pic.twitter.com/eo7brTdy8y
— The GAA (@officialgaa) July 15, 2018
2 Damien Reck (Wexford)
It was Wexford’s young stars that really stood up in their game against Clare and Reck was once again to the fore. He had great battles with Shane O’Donnell and Podge Collins and got his name on the scoresheet too with a well taken point.
He could have had a goal too when he jumped on the rebound of a save from Donal Tuohy only for a last-ditch block from Jack Browne denied him.
3 David McInerney (Clare)
The Tulla man was back to his best for Clare yesterday. He was physical, sharp and made a number of bursts out of their defence, supplying great ball for the half-forward line. He will face a much tougher challenge against Galway in Croke Park so it will be interesting to see how he copes against the likes of Conor Whelan and Conor Cooney.
He makes life for Donal Tuohy a lot easier when he is standing in front of him.
4 Seán Finn (Limerick)
Sean Finn’s battle with TJ Reid was one of the more interesting pairings during yesterday’s clash and it was no surprise that Reid only scored one point from play. The Bruff man was one of Limerick’s stand out players. The 22 year-old is one of the best corner-backs in the country at the moment and must be a shoo-in for an All Star award.
His pace is his strongest asset and it was something Kilkenny were not equipped to deal with yesterday.
5 Seadna Morey (Clare)
The wing-back scored a superb point for the Banner county in their win over Wexford at the weekend. His importance for Clare is growing week-by-week and fans will be delighted to see him back to full fitness. He uses his pace and agility to such great effect and Wexford were not able to work around him in Cork.
Like, McInerney he will face a much tougher past against the Galway half-forward line.
6 Declan Hannon (Limerick)
A leader in every sense of the word, Declan Hannon was once again inspirational for the Treaty men yesterday. He is so calm and composed on the ball with a great ability to read the game and he got his side out of tricky situations on more than one occasion. The half-back line is Limerick’s most consistent area and Hannon is leading by example at the centre of it.
Also scored a great point to round off his performance.
7 Dan Morrissey (Limerick)
The Sunday Game’s man-of-the-match and the Ahane man was well deserving of the award. Like Hannon, he was immense in Limerick’s half-back line using his vision to supply wonderful ball to the forwards. His work rate was phenomenal and he gave a masterclass under the high ball. His interviews afterwards showed how mature and collected the Limerick camp are this year.
When Limerick were struggling, that was when he was at his best. His best performance in a Limerick jersey so far.
8 James Maher (Kilkenny)
There aren’t many who can say they outshone Cian Lynch but it was James Maher who dominated the midfield area for large portions of yesterday’s game. Had a reasonably quiet game against Galway but was one of the top performers for the Cats this week. Scored three crucial points at a time when Kilkenny were launching a comeback.
Has been a revelation in Brian Cody’s squad this summer.
9 Darragh O’Donovan (Limerick)
Another immense performance in midfield came from Darragh O’Donovan and it was great to see him and Maher scrap for possession. His withdrawal in the second-half surprised many people, such was the level of his performance. Scored two brilliant points, one wonderful long-range effort and a stunning sideline cut.
Got on a ridiculous amount of ball and distributed it with ease.
Darragh O'Donovan point from the sideline! pic.twitter.com/WGwRlMyJkW
— The GAA (@officialgaa) July 15, 2018
10 Tony Kelly (Clare)
It was as if someone had rolled back the clock to 2013 in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday afternoon as Tony Kelly showed the kind of form that won him Hurler and Young Hurler of the Year that year. And it seems that he is coming into his best form at just the right time for the Banner county. He was a class above everyone else scoring five scintillating points from play. He struck the ball with such skill and ease that you just have to sit back and admire.
When Tony Kelly is on form, Clare are on form and Galway need to be wary of that.
11 Richie Hogan (Kilkenny)
Wasn’t named on the starting 15 but was a late change and what a stroke of genius that was. Just like Kelly, this was Richie Hogan’s best performance of the year and he was the player that finally took the scoring burden off the shoulders of TJ Reid. The pick of his points came as fielded a wonderful puck-out from Murphy before turning, dodging and sticking it over the bar.
His goal looked as though it would spark a Kilkenny revival but it wasn’t to be with Limerick kicking on instead.
12 Tom Morrissey (Limerick)
Many teams have buckled under the pressure when Kilkenny score a late goal but not Limerick and their confidence and assuredness was epitomised in one man, Tom Morrissey. His point after Hogan’s goal was nothing short of outstanding and was the real winner for Limerick. He may have had a quiet first 20 minutes but he soon made up for that with 0-4 to his name by the end. The U21 winning captain also showed great leadership.
He gave a great interview immediately after the game saying that it’s time for Limerick to “make history” and with players like him, they might just be able to do that.
13 Conor McDonald (Wexford)
Got a return of 1-3 from a brilliant performance at corner-forward on Saturday. Used his pace to drag the Clare defenders out of position and create space for his fellow forwards. Could have made a greater impact had he been given better ball but used what he had to great effective. His goal narrowed the gap for Wexford but they had left themselves with too much to do.
He has been carrying the mantle for Wexford for a number of seasons now but is finally being backed up by the likes of Rory O’Connor.
14 Aaron Gillane (Limerick)
Was earmarked before the game as one of the players who would cause the Kilkenny full-back line the most problems and that was certainly the case. Gillane has this mesmerising ability of making everything he does look so simple. He was superb in his use of the ball and showed masterful stick work. Twice he found himself with goal opportunities just to be denied by the brilliance of Eoin Murphy.
The fact that he only scored two points from frees really is a testament to the scoring prowess of the Limerick forwards.
15 Shane O’Donnell (Clare)
O’Donnell was another player who was back to his 2013 best at the weekend. He was hugely impressive for the Banner county, showing great link-up play with his fellow forwards. Something that has perhaps been missing from his performances over the past few games has been his ability to win his own ball but his work rate was flawless against Wexford.
Scored four beautiful points from play.