With the Allianz National Hurling League at an end, a number of hurlers will be content with their form heading into championship. Here we take a look at five outside bets for the 2018 Hurler Of The Year.
Tipperary and Kilkenny will both take great satisfaction from their league campaigns with both teams making the final. Although the Cats came out on top, Tipperary were able to hand starting jerseys to a number of new faces throughout the campaign and will take many positives from the fresh blood.
Other sides who will have been happy with their spring are Limerick, Wexford, Offaly and to a certain extent Clare.
Galway, Cork, Dublin and Waterford will all be hoping for an improvement in form come championship, however they do possess the talent to do so.
Amongst these sides, a number of highly-talented hurlers can be found at good odds to land the 2018 hurler of the year.
Let’s take a look at five men who could be worth a punt.
1 Jason Forde (14/1) – Tipperary (odds via Paddy Power)
What a change a year can make. At this stage last year Jason Forde also found his name in the headlines, but for all the wrong reasons. Having found himself involved in an altercation with Davy Fitzgerald, Forde was handed a completely undeserved suspension.
This year however, the Silvermines ace has been in unstoppable form and has undoubtedly been the player of the league. The 2012 Croke Cup winner has more than filled the boots of Seamus Callanan and looks set for a breakthrough 2018 championship.
At 14/1 Forde’s odds are the shortest on the list, however if his form continues the way it has been, these odds will reduce dramatically as the summer progresses.
2 Jamie Barron – Waterford (22/1)
In making these predictions last year, Jamie Barron was tipped at at 66/1 which could very easily have proven to have been a very valuable bet. Had Waterford beaten Galway in last year’s final, it’s highly likely Barron would have been selected.
The Déise will have been disappointed with how their league campaign went, but have no doubt Derek McGrath will have a plan to re-energise his side come championship. The form of the former UCC student will be a key part of McGrath’s strategy.
Over the past three years, Barron along with David Burke has been the most consistent midfielder in the country. A combination of quick-wrists, a never-ending supply fitness and an ankle-breaking side-step make Barron a nightmare for opposition sides.
3 Patrick Horgan – Cork (25/1)
The Rebels suffered something of a set-back in this spring’s league campaign, they did however avoid relegation. While this spring was no cause for optimism, many would argue that only for Damien Cahalane’s red card, Cork could have appeared in the 2017 All-Ireland final.
If the Leesiders are to once again impress this summer, have no doubt that Patrick Horgan will have a huge part to play in this. At times Horgan’s talents appear unappreciated, the Glen Rovers man’s scoring statistics are truly staggering.
Things haven’t always been easy for Cork hurling over the past decade, their form has fluctuated. The same, however, cannot be said of Horgan’s form.
If John Meyler’s side shock the hurling world this summer, it would be no surprise to see Horgan collect the individual honours.
4 Cillian Buckley (33/1)
If this league campaign has proven anything, it’s that Brian Cody is never to be written off. The greatest ever hurling manager has adapted once again, delivering an Allianz National Hurling League title, and Kilkenny now look a serious threat entering into the summer.
If Kilkenny are to launch an assault on this year’s championship, Cillian Buckley will be driving the forces from the back. The Dicksboro man has blossomed into one of the best half-backs in the game since his re-positioning in 2014.
It’s hard to believe that Cillian Buckley is just 25 years of age, given the lowering of the age profile in the Kilkenny squad, the former All-Star is seen as one of the elder statesmen in this squad.
5 Gearoid McInerney (40/1)
There was widespread shock throughout the hurling community last year as Gearoid McInerney was somehow overlooked for a hurler of the year nomination. In most analysts opinion, the Galway centre-back was undisputedly the hurler of the year.
McInerney excelled when it mattered most for Micheal Donoghue’s men time and time again in 2017. The 27 year old’s second half performance in the All-Ireland semi-final will live long in the memory of Galway supporters.
Given that most felt McInerney was the hurler of the year for 2017, if the Oranmore-Maree hurler can replicate that form this summer, 40/1 could prove a lucrative investment.