The National Hurling League is well and truly underway. As hurling fanatics, we have seen some terrific personal displays, some shock victories and pure moments of magic.
Through focussing on various League performances, we have named the stand-out team from the opening two rounds of games.
1.Eoin Murphy (Kilkenny)
Although Kilkenny are on the back of two consecutive losses in the league, Murphy has pulled off some unbelievable saves between the sticks. An unlucky absentee is Cork’s Anthony Nash, who saved two penalties in as many games for the Rebels.
2. Eoghan O’Donnell (Dublin)
The 21-year-old picked up where he left off last season, putting in remarkable performances against Tipperary and Cork, keeping dangermen Seamus Callanan and Patrick Horgan under wraps. Dublin have found a true replacement for Peter Kelly at the edge of the square. We have in the corner here for the purposes of this side.
3. James Barry (Tipperary)
The Tipperary full-back has been a model of consistency of late. In Tipperary’s last two games, Barry has been a rock for the Premier County cementing his position in the spine of the Tipperary back-line.
4. Seadna Morey (Clare)
In recent years, Morey has failed to establish his place on the Clare team. However, with similar performances to his one against Kilkenny on the weekend, he will prove difficult to move come Championship time.
Under the same management that Morey enjoyed various under 21 successes with, he will be hoping to play a vital role in Clare’s defence this year.
5. Kieran Joyce (Kilkenny)
Knowingly, Kilkenny are currently going a rough spell, but Kieran Joyce has been one of the few Kilkenny players to show true leadership and determination for the Cats with his dominant defensive displays against Waterford and Clare.
6. Matthew O’Hanlon (Wexford)
The St James’ club man has been influential in the Model County’s two huge victories against Limerick and Galway. The joint captain’s strength, leadership and high-fielding qualities are proving to be influential factors in Wexford’s recent high-standard performances at centre-back.
7. Padraic Maher (Tipperary)
A man that needs no introduction is Paudie Maher. Like O’Donnell, the dominant Tipperary defender is beginning just where he left off last season displaying towering performances against Dublin and Waterford.
8. Jamie Barron (Waterford)
Even though Barron only played one of the two games in this year’s league campaign, his showing against Kilkenny alone means that he makes this team. His absence for the Déise against Tipperary proved influential, which highlighted the importance that Barron already has on this Waterford team.
9. David Burke (Galway)
Not only are Burke’s work-rate, vision and playmaking skills coming to the fore in recent matches, he is also chipping in on the scoreboard. From midfield, he has totalled 1-2 in his previous two games. His new midfield partner, Johnny Coen, should find himself unlucky not to be taking Burke’s position on this list.
10. Aaron Shanagher (Clare)
Certainly, the Bannerman’s height, strength and scoring ability are proving to be a thorn in the opposition’s defence. In Clare’s recent game, Shanagher tallied 1-4 against the Cats in a mouth-watering display.
11. Liam Watson (Warwickshire)
The former Antrim inter-county hurler, now playing with English side Warwickshire is one that cannot be forgotten and one that fully deserves to be on this list.
Since Watson’s move across the sea, his presence on the field is invaluable. In their latest game, Watson racked up a total of 2-10 out of the side’s 2-12 against Fermanagh. Even though he is playing in a lower division than those mentioned above, without his presence on the field, some would pose the question whether Warwickshire would beat these teams.
12. Shane Kingston (Cork)
The young new addition to the Cork starting fifteen has certainly shown his ability on a national level and proved why his father instilled such faith into the 19-year-old from Douglas. Kingston was the driving force against the Banner county, before scoring 1-2 against Dublin.
13. Conor Mc Donald (Wexford)
The Naomh Eanna club man has played a pivotal role for the Yellowbellies’ two victories. The 21-year-old scored 1-8 against Limerick in the opening round which further highlighted his significance to Wexford.
Against Galway, he stepped up once again, scoring Wexford’s two last points to secure the win for a revived team under the watchful eye of Davy Fitzgerald.
14. John McGrath (Tipperary)
Coming in under the backdrop of great performances for UL in the Fitzgibbon Cup, McGrath continued his form at inter-county level proving to be the Tipp’s most influential player of late. He scored 1-3 from play from full-forward against a Waterford side that had implemented a sweeper system in front of him.
15. Alan Cadogan (Cork)
Choosing this position proved to be extremely difficult. Cadogan was a class above when Cork met Clare in the opening game, however, the likes of Niall O Meara from Tipperary also provided moments of magic for the Premier County. Cadogan received the nod not only due to his performance against Clare but alongside his dominant displays with the Rebels that led to their victory in the Munster Senior League.
- Anthony Nash (Cork)
- Ronan Lynch (Limerick)
- Eoghan Conroy (Dublin)
- Niall O Mara (Tipperary)
- Padraig Boyle (Kerry)
- Johnny Coen (Galway)
- Patrick Curran (Waterford)
- TJ Reid (Kilkenny)
- Lee Chin (Wexford)
Certainly, this list will divide opinion throughout the hurling counties, so join the discussion in the comments section and mention the changes you would make.
Jason Redmond, Pundit Arena.
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