Hype and big names will always gain the attention of GAA people in hurling and football. Whether it is the public, the media, the supporters or whoever, there will always be fan favourites and those whose most simple acts will be lauded. Here we put the shoe on the other foot, and look at those who receive little recognition.
Here are the five most underrated hurlers in Ireland at the moment.
- James Barry – Tipperary
James Barry is a fine hurler and the role he plays in the Tipperary side should be acknowledged more than it is. When Padraic Maher was struggling at full-back in 2014, Tipp needed to find a solution and Barry has fitted in there without any fuss. He is not a natural number three but he does a sufficient job there. He improves with every game and has been a good solution to a huge problem for Tipp.
- Matthew O’Hanlon – Wexford
The Wexford full-back should be a prised commodity in the modern game. One of the big reasons for the introduction of sweepers is the lack of quality full-backs out there. The days of Noel Hickey, Kevin Kinahan, Brian Lohan and Diarmuid O’Sullivan are gone. O’Hanlon is an excellent full-back and one of very few around at the moment.
- Conor Whelan – Galway
Galway are lauded as having a very dangerous forward line nowadays. The players always mentioned are Joe Canning, Jason Flynn, Cathal Mannion, Conor Cooney and one man who often gets overlooked is the youngster Conor Whelan. Whelan has been excellent since his introduction to the side at the quarter-final stage in 2015 and should have been Young Hurler of the Year last season.
- Conor Fogarty – Kilkenny
Fogarty is rated, but not highly enough. It is a joke how he has been overlooked for all-star awards in the last two seasons. Fogarty has been such a key part of Kilkenny’s game plan. Few can recognise the role he plays in protecting Kilkenny’s defence, and his outrageous fitness levels ensure that he can contribute just as much in an attacking sense. He really is great player.
- Jamie Barron – Waterford
This man is hands down the most underrated hurler out there. Maybe he needs to be seen live for people to appreciate what he brings to games, but he is an outstanding player who receives almost no recognition. He covers every blade of grass on whatever field he takes to. His use of the ball is exceptional and he sets up more Deise attacks than anybody else. So much of his work goes unnoticed.