As we are halfway through the current decade, we felt it was time to pick a team comprised of the best Munster hurlers of the last five years.
In order to maintain the right balance, we took into account what each player’s respective county achieved in the Munster championship and the All-Ireland series during his playing period.
So here it is; the Munster Hurling XV of the Half Decade (2010 – 2014). Keyboard warriors, get ready to have your say.
1. Brendan Cummins – Tipperary
It was pretty much a straight shoot-out between Brendan Cummins and Anthony Nash. Nash is more of the ‘new kid on the block’ while Cummins was the stalwart who retired at the end of the 2013 season.
Cummins gets the nod for being the picture of consistency. He may not have carried the scoring threat of Nash, although he did score a point in the 2010 All-Ireland final when Tipperary beat Kilkenny.
The Tipp stopper was a great servant to the game and just edges Nash in this selection.
The video below may be from back in 2003, but it showed how good Cummins was. And he brought this level of performance all the way through to 2013.
Honourable Mention: Anthony Nash (Cork)
2. Noel Connors – Waterford
It is often forgotten that Waterford have done quite well in Munster since 2010 despite being seen as one of the weaker teams by many. They won one final and contested a further two in the first half of the decade, owed to a team filled with good performers.
Connors has been a mainstay at corner-back for Waterford and ably marked the best corner-backs in Munster and Ireland over the last five years. He was an all-star hurler in 2010 and has continued a lot of this good form since then despite not getting major recognition.
Honourable Mention: Shane O’Neill (Cork)
3. Paul Curran – Tipperary
This was a clear contest between Curran and Richie McCarthy. McCarthy is probably fresher in people’s minds due to his performances over the last two seasons. He has been exceptional at full-back for Limerick but over the five season period, Curran has been a better player.
Curran was deservedly a back-to-back All-Star in 2010 and 2011 and his injury loss was heavily felt in Tipp’s pursuit of the All-Ireland last year as they failed to fill his vacancy at full-back.
He is an old-fashioned, no nonsense full-back and the best in Munster since 2010. He also lifted the Munster Cup in 2012.
Honourable Mention: Richie McCarthy (Limerick)
4. Michael Cahill – Tipperary
As he missed out on the 2014 season through injury, a lot of people will have forgotten just how good Michael Cahill has been since his introduction to the Tipperary side since 2010. In Tipp’s heavy loss to Cork in 2010, Cahill was by far their best performer and his good form continued until an injury hampered his progression in 2014.
An All-Star in 2011 during Tipp’s run to a consecutive All-Ireland final, 2012 saw more consistency despite a heavy loss to Kilkenny in the All-Ireland semi-final. Cahill was by far the Premier’s best player in their horror 2013 season and has been one of the best Munster hurlers since 2010.
Honourable Mention: Tom Condon (Limerick)
5. Brendan Maher – Tipperary
The number five position was between two Brendans; Bugler and Maher. However, the latter gets the vote on this occasion.
The Tipp man struggled with injury at stages but over the last five years he has shown that he is one of the best half-backs in Ireland on his day.
Bugler won consecutive All-Stars in 2012 and 2013 but his honour in 2012 could be counted as lucky. Maher was possibly the best hurler in Ireland in 2010 and while he struggled with injury through much of 2011 and 2012, he was back to his best in 2013 and 2014, giving him three outstanding seasons as opposed to Bugler’s two.
Honourable Mention: Brendan Bugler (Clare)
6. Michael Walsh – Waterford
Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh was one of the country’s most consistent performers over the first half of the decade and fully deserves his place at centre-back. His move back to centre-back was a major driving force behind Waterford’s Munster success in 2010 and he has continued to excel with every passing year.
Brick has now moved further up the field and is wearing number 14 but playing in a withdrawn role. He continues to show his versatility and value to the side. Although not the most spectacular centre-back of all time, he was solid as a rock and used possession extremely well.
Honourable Mention: Wayne McNamara (Limerick)
7. Padraic Maher – Tipperary
This was one of the easier selections.
Following a poor season in 2013, questions were being asked of him when he moved back to full-back at the start of 2014 and struggled. However, he moved out to half-back and is now showing that he is probably the best half-back in the country.
He started out as a full-back but one difficult day with Aisake Ó hAilpín saw him move out to half-back and he has taken off from there. A very powerful hurler, he carries out defensive and attacking duties of a half-back to a very high level.
Honourable Mention: Gavin O’ Mahony (Limerick)
8. Daniel Kearney – Cork
Kearney is one of the later inclusions but a justified one, having been a very good midfielder since coming into the Cork side in 2012. He made his debut in the Munster championship that year and laid the foundations that have enabled him to become a very consistent performer.
He has kicked on hugely since then and put in some good displays for Cork in the 2013 and 2014 championships in both the Munster and All-Ireland series. A very busy player around the pitch, Kearney provides a necessary link between attack and defence.
Honourable Mention: James Ryan (Limerick)
9. Tony Kelly – Clare
People may think Clare are poorly represented on this team but in terms of the Munster Hurling Championship they have performed quite poorly over the last five years. In fact, shockingly they have only one win in a Munster championship clash in the first half of this decade.
Despite this, they are only one of two Munster counties to win the All-Ireland title and in 2013 Hurler of the Year Tony Kelly, they have a layer with the potential to be one of the all-time greats.
He has shown class over his three years on the scene so far and is fully deserving of his place on this elite panel.
Honourable Mention: Kevin Moran (Waterford)
10. Declan Hannon – Limerick
Hannon may seem like an odd inclusion but he has achieved a lot over the last five years despite being affected by injury. It is forgotten how good he was in his opening season of 2011 when he was Limerick’s main man in attack.
His 2012 was hampered by injury but he still got a key goal in a qualifier with Clare. Limerick’s successful 2013 Munster Championship campaign saw Hannon as the main man in the Limerick attack before another injury plagued season took place in 2014. However, he still hit five points from play in an All-Ireland semi-final.
Have no doubt about it, despite being outstanding in his career thus far, the best is yet to come from Declan Hannon.
Honourable Mention: Shane Dowling (Limerick)
11. Patrick Maher – Tipperary
Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher is possibly Tipp’s most important player. His ball winning and physicality is something that cannot be matched by any other Tipp forward. He has performed well since coming into the Tipp side and is a key member of their attack.
Bonner’s performances in championship games have often been the difference between a win and a loss for Tipp. He may not the be the most free scoring of forwards but his role in creating scores makes him one of the game’s most valuable players.
Honourable Mention: Seamus Harnedy (Cork)
12. Lar Corbett – Tipperary
Lar Corbett’s selection mainly dates back to his form in the early half of the decade. It is hard to argue with the inclusion of a player who scored three goals in an All-Ireland final and went on to win Hurler of the Year.
In that time he also secured two Munster medals and struck 4-4 all from play in a Munster final against Waterford in 2011. He had a big role to play in Tipperary’s dominance of Munster sides for most of the first half of the decade.
Honourable Mention: John O’Brien (Tipperary)
13. John Mullane – Waterford
He may have finished his career with Waterford after the 2012 season but in those first three years of the decade Mullane continued with his brilliant form. He won three consecutive all-star awards in those three years.
In 2012 Mullane was excellent against Cork despite Waterford’s loss. He played a lot of good games in the Munster championship but possibly his most impressive game of all was the All-Ireland semi-final against Kilkenny in 2011 where he scored 1-6 from play.
Honourable Mention: Eoin Kelly (Tipperary)
14. Patrick Horgan – Cork
The Corkman has been one of the highest scorers since his introduction to the Rebels team. His free taking ability is unquestionable, almost guaranteeing a point from the placed ball.
Horgan could offer a bit more from play at times but overall has been one of Munster’s top scorers. The Glen Rovers man performed well against Tipperary in 2010 and 2011, was excellent throughout 2013 and also led a Cork comeback against Waterford in 2014.
If Horgan plays well, Cork play well.
Honourable Mention: Seamus Callanan (Tipperary)
15. Conor McGrath – Clare
This is another that some may see as a surprise inclusion but McGrath has been an excellent player over the past five years. His debut in 2011 may have seen Clare lose to Tipperary, but McGrath’s contribution of 1-6 tormented the Tipp backline.
He has kicked on since then and while he may not have lit up the Munster championship he has won an All-Ireland medal with the Banner. He was outstanding in the 2013 All-Ireland final replay and also ran the Banner attack in 2012 and 2014.
Honourable Mention: Noel McGrath (Tipperary)
It may appear that there is an abundance of Tipperary players, but in reality they have endured just one poor season in the last five years. As a result, they justifiably dominate the ‘Munster Hurling XV of the Half Decade’ ahead of their counterparts.
Sean Cremin, Pundit Arena.
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