As the dust settles on a remarkable All-Ireland Hurling Championship victory for Tipperary, there are obvious parallels to the team of 2010. Six years ago, the Premier stopped the ‘Drive for Five’, and looked set to dominate the hurling landscape for years to come.
The questions now being raised are whether the class of 2016 can achieve what Lar Corbett and co. failed to do, and go on to create a legacy.
But first we ask, which is the better side?
Brendan Cummins vs Darren Gleeson
Darren Gleeson had a solid championship campaign, minding the Premier nets throughout. However, Cummins is one of the finest goalkeepers to ever grace a hurling field, and there is no debate here.
Verdict: Brendan Cummins.
Paddy Stapleton vs Cathal Barrett
The Borrisoleigh corner-back was, and still is, a capable defender. Barrett meanwhile had one of the great hurling campaigns we have seen in recent times. It is fair to say that Paul Murphy is the only man to rival Barrett for the title as the sport’s best corner-back at present.
Verdict: Cathal Barrett.
Paul Curran vs James Barry
Curran was possibly more physical than the technical Barry, but both have to be considered as top class full-backs. Both All-Stars for the years in question (we’re not jumping to a farfetched conclusion here) Curran and Barry lead the way in their field.
Verdict: Paul Curran, just…
Michael Cahill (2010) vs Michael Cahill (2016)
There is only one winner here…
Cahill experienced a dip in form during the Eamonn O’Shea era, but was on the top of his game either side of this. Comparing like for like. We’ll give it to his 2010 form.
Verdict: Michael Cahill (2010)
Declan Fanning vs Seamus Kennedy
Seamus Kennedy impressed throughout 2016. When the difference in intensity between this year and the O’Shea era is highlighted, Kennedy deserves credit.
Fanning was a tidy wing-back, and his aerial ability was a major asset to Tipp.
Verdict: Seamus Kennedy.
Conor O’Mahony vs Ronan Maher
Ronan Maher was the engine of the Tipp team this year. Beside his brother Padraic in the half-back line, Ronan excelled, and is a shoo-in for an All-Star award.
Conor O’Mahony’s retirement was a big blow for the Premier, and the effects of his loss showed how important he was to the side.
Verdict: Ronan Maher.
Padraic Maher (2010) vs Padraic Maher (2016)
Padraic Maher has been one of the finest backs in the game over the last number of years, but he stepped it up a notch in 2016.
Verdict: Padraic Maher (2016)
Brendan Maher (2010) vs Brendan Maher (2016)
Young Hurler of the Year in 2010. All-Ireland winning captain in 2016. Two different roles, but he had more of an influence six years ago.
Verdict: Brendan Maher (2010).
Shane McGrath vs Michael Breen
This is one of the hardest calls on the team to make. Michael Breen has added a huge level of intensity to Tipp this year, bursting forward from the midfield and working tirelessly off the ball.
McGrath was a model midfielder, putting in perfect shifts between the 65s. His fielding was a huge boost for Liam Sheedy’s side.
Verdict: Shane McGrath.
Gearoid Ryan vs Dan McCormack
Neither are big scorers, but get through a ferocious amount of labour around the park. McCormack added to the industrious work of the half-forward line this year, and we’ll give it to him.
Verdict: Dan McCormack
Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher (2010) vs Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher (2016)
Quoting the original Premier Rap, penned in 2010, “I’d prefer to get hit by a car, than get hit a shoulder from the Bonner Maher.”
Bonner was back close to his best in 2016, but was at his very best in 2010.
Verdict: Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher (2010)
Noel McGrath (2010) vs Noel McGrath (2016)
McGrath was immense this year, after struggles with illness. It was great to see the Loughmore man get his hands on another celtic cross.
McGrath was awesome both years, so don’t take too much offence at a real 50/50 call.
Verdict: Noel McGrath (2016)
John O’Brien vs John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer
O’Brien has his merits, but Bubbles is a different level of operator.
Verdict: John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer.
Eoin Kelly vs Seamus Callanan
Eoin Kelly is one of the greatest forwards to ever grace a hurling field, but he had taken on more of a leadership role in 2010, and was not the player he was a few years previous.
Callanan is at the top of his game. This is an easy decision.
Verdict: Seamus Callanan.
Lar Corbett vs John McGrath
Two goal machines. Two Premier heroes. Corbett was a different animal. However, at a young age there is little to suggest that McGrath can’t reach those heights.
Verdict: Lar Corbett.
2010 team: 7
2016 team: 8