The time has come to decide the final five players in the Pundit Arena Hurling Power Rankings. Here’s who we think are the top five hurlers in Ireland at the moment.
5. TJ Reid
Reid was another player who brought his game forward another level or two this year. For so long, he was a sub on the Kilkenny side that many people said would walk into any other side in the country.
When he finally nailed down his starting position, he still remained in the shadows of Henry Shefflin, Eoin Larkin and Richie Power.
However, this year saw Reid take up the role of Kilkenny’s main forward. In terms of free-taking and leadership he assumed a big role in the Cats’ attack and was one of the main reasons they found themselves lifting the Liam McCarthy Cup again.
4. Padraic Maher
Back in 2009, it looked like Padraic Maher was going to be threatening to be at the top of a list like this for the next ten years or so but a big dip in form led to questions being asked about him.
It was hard to know whether it was a question of a lack of ability, poor mentality or being a flash in the pan, but Padraic Maher’s performances from the last twenty minutes of the Galway game all the way to the end of the season were exceptional. He showed everybody again that he is the top half-back in the country on his day.
3. Brendan Maher
Brendan Maher just edges in ahead of Padraic Maher in terms of having that extra bit of consistency recently. He appears to be that bit more reliable than his namesake. He was instrumental in leading Tipperary’s revival this year.
As captain of the side, he was a big leader and lifted those around him on many occasions through his quality of play, both in the league and the championship. It really was a toss-up for third and fourth between the two Maher’s. Brendan edged in front, just, due to his consistency and reliability.
2. Seamus Callanan
He was much maligned and heavily criticised for much of his career to date and justifiably so. At times he looked like a man who could be one of the best forwards in Ireland but he failed to perform on a regular basis.
Tipperary’s loss against Limerick at the start of the year sparked the same questions about Callanan after he had performed very well in Tipperary’s league revival. But from the Limerick game on, Callanan was nothing short of sensational. His scoring record and importance of scores speaks for itself and at this moment in time he is the best forward in the country.
1. Richie Hogan
Like TJ Reid, Hogan was another player who was always full of potential but struggled to make a name for himself in what was an outstanding Kilkenny side. He had plenty of moments but he rarely put a string of performances together that could make him considered the best in Ireland.
But now he has done so. He was absolutely outstanding this year and showed that he is the most complete hurler in Ireland. The potential was always there for him to do so, and now at midfield he has found a position to make himself the best in the country.
So there we have it, the Pundit Arena Top 25 Hurlers in Ireland at this present moment. Some players will be count themselves unlucky not to be selected.
These things are always difficult to balance out between positions and other factors. Form, more specifically recent form, is probably the main thing that decides most players’ places on the ladder. However, we decided on the aforementioned players.
Anyway, feel free to join in the debate by commenting below or letting us know via Twitter with the hashtag #PAGAARankings or Facebook.
Sean Cremin, Pundit Arena.