It is time to put some people’s noses out of joint yet again with this week’s Tuesday Team Selection. Last week we picked the best 15 hurlers knocked out of the championship, now we pick the best 15 remaining in the championship. Kilkenny fans, we are ready for the abuse!!
- Colm Callanan – Galway
It is not a great time for hurling goalkeepers. The standard is not half as high as it used to be and mass defences mean that teams are not getting or creating as many goal chances as they were before. Colm Callanan, despite letting in a poor goal in the Leinster final, just edges it at the moment. He is the best of the four that are left at this time, taking form into account.
- Paul Murphy – Kilkenny
A Hurler of the Year contender who keeps performing well in every game. His aerial ability is phenomenal and the way he covers his full-back is another thing that totally unnoticed. He goes toe to toe with the best attackers and often comes out on top. He has skill levels and man marking ability that few can match.
- Daithí Burke – Galway
He does not weatr number three on his back, but he has been positioned there a few times this year and such is the lack of quality number three’s around nowadays, Burke would still be classified as the best option around at full-back. He has played very well this year, doing a good job on TJ Reid in the Leinster final and showed great aerial ability against Clare in the quarter-final.
- Cathal Barrett – Tipperary
Barrett has continued his exceptional form. He has been a brilliant player since arriving on the scene in 2014. His pace and skill are his two main attributes. He constantly plays from the front and beats attackers to the ball. His exquisite skills then allow him to win the ball and use it very well. If there were more Barrett’s around, less teams would use sweepers.
- Padraic Walsh – Kilkenny
This really was a toss-up between Walsh and Padraic Maher of Tipperary. Walsh gets the nod for his reliability and consistency. Maher has hurled very well this year, but we all know by now that his real tests will arrive in the next week when the big pressure comes on. Walsh has been exceptional this season and gets better with every game.
- Austin Gleeson – Waterford
Some might see this as a bit of a cheat move. But these pages have constantly said that Waterford and Derek McGrath are not getting the best out of Austin Gleeson. His best position is centre-back and McGrath is yet to use him there. He wears number six, and it is time for him to be played at number six. With Tadhg de Burca behind him, he then would also have freedom to attack. So we are picking Gleeson in his best position.
- Cillian Buckley – Kilkenny
Buckley is another hurler who is getting better and better with every game. He is an incredible athlete but his hurling and awareness keeps getting better. He is the template for any young player learning to play half-back. He attacks the ball with so much purpose and aggression. Almost everything is on the front foot, but he is equally as capable going back towards his own goal.
- David Burke – Galway
Burke is the form midfielder in Ireland right now. He was always a very talented hurler but was a victim and an example of Galway’s yoyo type form. For the last two seasons his consistency of quality has been clear for all to see. He is a great link between attack and defence. He dominates the middle third and influences both sides of the pitch.
- Conor Fogarty – Kilkenny
Midfield was the most competitive area. Michael Fennelly, Michael Breen, Brendan Maher, Kevin Moran and the ever underrated Jamie Barron would all fit into the team seamlessly. But we give the nod to the man almost as underrated as Barron, Conor Fogarty. Fogarty is such a key man in the Kilkenny team. Like Burke, he contributes in both attack and defence and builds the Cats platform.
- TJ Reid – Kilkenny
He has not set the hurling world alight like he did in 2015 but Reid has quietly gone about his business very effectively so far this season. He is playing a Henry Shefflin-type leadership role in the Kilkenny half-forward line. He is leading the side in the work rate and tackling stakes and is still making a sufficient dent in the scoreboard.
- Richie Hogan – Kilkenny
He has only seen 35 minutes of action in the 2016 season and in that time he scored 0-5 and set the tone for Kilkenny’s comeback in the Leinster final against Galway. Anywhere from numbers 8-15, Hogan can do damage. He could be that bit extra that Kilkenny may need in the last two games to win three-in-a-row, if it is to happen that is.
- Joe Canning – Galway
Canning was almost at a crossroads in his hurling career. He had been touted as hurling’s next superstar as far back as 2005 when he was in his first year of minor. 11 years later, followers wondered had we or were we ever going to see the best of Canning? Then he put in a top class display against Clare. Like what we said about TJ Reid, he was Henry Shefflin-esque as he led the Tribesmen in more ways than one.
- John O’Dwyer – Tipperary
A moment of rashness means we missed watching Bubbles in the Munster final, but there are very few better forwards in Ireland at the moment. Nobody strikes the ball with as much ease as the man from Killenaule and very few make the game look as easy. Tipp need him at his best if they are to lift the Liam McCarthy Cup.
- Seamus Callanan – Tipperary
There is no better player at the focal point of an attack then Tipperary’s Seamus Callanan. He is the crowd favourite and a man who gets a lot of plaudits, but they are all deserved. For a while he looked like a player with potential who was never going to fulfil it. But 2014 saw him take his game to a whole new level and he is one of the best, if not the best hurler around at the moment.
- John McGrath – Tipperary
This was a spot that was up for grabs. Jonjo Farrell, Colin Fennelly, Maurice Shanahan, Cathal Mannion and Conor Whelan can all make a claim, but at the moment John McGrath is a man in form. He is scoring for fun but he is making an impact on many more areas of the game. His ball winning and creativity is something that Tipp have been lacking and they will be hoping there is two more big games in him.