It was a frantic start to the 2019 Hurling Championship with games across Munster, Leinster and the Joe McDonagh Cup at the weekend.
There were important wins for Clare and Tipperary in Munster while it was Galway and Kilkenny who walked away with the points in Leinster.
We have chosen our top performers from across the various teams to feature in our Hurling Team of the Week.
1. Donal Tuohy (Clare)
The Clare goalkeeper made a vital save in the 67th minute during yesterday’s Munster Championship opener against Waterford in Walsh Park. At the time, the home side were creeping their way back into contention and Austin Gleeson predictably went for goal from a close-range free to try and drag his side over the line. Tuohy’s diving save helped Clare cling on for their narrow one-point win.
2. Cathal Barrett (Tipperary)
Much was made of Liam Sheedy’s decision to start 11 of the players from the 2016 All Ireland hurling final in his team for their clash with Cork yesterday but his faith paid off. Cathal Barrett looked almost back to his very best with a number of key tackles and possessions. The Tipperary defensive seemed rocky at times but, individually, Barrett was superb.
3. Eoghan O’Donnell (Dublin)
Eoghan O’Donnell is arguably the most in-form full-back in the country at the minute and he proved that against Kilkenny on Saturday evening. He made a number of crucial interceptions to prevent Kilkenny scores including this goal chance from Walter Walsh.
Dublin's Eoghan O'Donnell with some fantastic skill to prevent a Kilkenny goal! pic.twitter.com/cM4BMDD4hy
— The GAA (@officialgaa) May 11, 2019
4. Tommy Walsh (Kilkenny)
Tommy Walsh gave a fine account of himself during his first hurling championship outing for Kilkenny. Walsh was impressive throughout the league and while Kilkenny had to cope with a number of injuries to key defenders, Walsh made his presence known against Dublin in Nowlan Park and made a number of key interjections.
5. Brendan Maher (Tipperary)
In his first inter-county start since his lengthy cruciate ligament injury, Brendan Maher was outstanding for Tipperary against Cork. Showing no signs of rustiness, he scored two points from play from the half-back line, catching plenty of ball over the head of his marker. Anthony Nash landed plenty of puckouts on top of the Tipperary half-back line and Brendan, together with Ronan and Padraic Maher, happily cleaned up.
Brendan Maher fires over an inspirational point for Tipperary. pic.twitter.com/eOwvjMmbOE
— The GAA (@officialgaa) May 12, 2019
6. Ryan Mullaney (Laois)
It was a very difficult week for Ryan Mullaney following the death of his sister-in-law, but the Castletown was one of the stand-out performers for Laois against Offaly in their opening Joe McDonagh game. The centre-back was heavily involved in his side’s third goal and manager, Eddie Brennan, heaped him with praise following the game.
7. Padraig Walsh (Kilkenny)
Padraig Walsh put in a massive shift for Kilkenny in their Leinster hurling championship opener against Dublin in Nowlan Park on Saturday evening. The Tullaroan man came into his own in the second half when he was moved to centre-back. His sublime catch and delivery set up TJ Reid’s goal in the 46th minute in one of the best moments of the match.
8. Tony Kelly (Clare)
Tony Kelly once again showed off his phenomenal skill for Clare in Walsh Park yesterday. The 25-year-old scored five points from play while proving almost unmarkable for the Waterford backs, earning him the man-of-the-match award.
9. Noel McGrath (Tipperary)
Noel McGrath was another of the ‘class of 2010’ who shone for the Premier County at the weekend. The Loughmore-Castleiney club man dominated proceedings in midfield while he also picked off four points, three from play. His sublime vision and trademark quick passing proved very fruitful, especially when he provided a crucial pass to John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer in the build-up to Tipp’s second goal.
10. Martin Kavanagh (Carlow)
Martin Kavanagh carried his fine form from the league into the championship and to Pearse Stadium where they faced Galway on Sunday. Carlow were fearless against the All Ireland finalists, giving a very respectful account of themselves. Kavanagh was as accurate as ever from frees with six placed balls to his name while he also scored five points from play.
11. Seamus Harnedy (Cork)
Seamus Harnedy proved to be a key leader for Cork once again in Pairc Ui Chaoimh yesterday. Together with Patrick Horgan, they kept Cork in contention throughout the first half when Tipperary threatened to pull away. It was his goal late in the second half that gave Cork a renewed sense of optimism but they failed to see out the game.
12. TJ Reid (Kilkenny)
TJ Reid was once again the main provider for Kilkenny in their game against Dublin at the weekend. The Ballyhale-Shamrocks man missed the league campaign while on club duty but he slotted back into Brian Cody’s side seamlessly. Reid finished the day with 2-12 including this incredible goal.
What a goal for Kilkenny's TJ Reid!! pic.twitter.com/cRBPUUbHJR
— The GAA (@officialgaa) May 11, 2019
13. John O’Dwyer (Tipperary)
John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer was back to his very best for Tipperary at the weekend, firing over outrageous points from all angles. The Killenaule man looked extremely fit and repeatedly popped up looking for possession all over the pitch, even in the closing stages. As well as his seven points from play, O’Dwyer was also the provider of a wonderful pass for John McGrath’s goal in the 49th minute.
14. Seamus Callanan (Tipperary)
The Tipperary hurling captain was in fine form against Cork, scoring 1-4 from play including a well-worked goal in the second minute. Callanan was named at centre-forward but roamed around the pitch, linking up well with his fellow forwards. His confidence levels have notably risen this season and his showed glimpses of his form from 2016.
15. Patrick Horgan (Cork)
Patrick Horgan was the chief provider for Cork at the weekend scoring 14 points, 0-10 from frees. Tipperary were very ill-disciplined throughout the first-half and the Glen Rovers man didn’t hesitate to punish the visitors. Cork constantly looked to Horgan to dig them out of trouble and even manager John Meyler admitted to RTE after the game that they were overly-reliant on the free-taker.