It’s safe to say we are now well and truly into the business end of the championship. Barring a draw, we have got just two games left to look forward to. These are generally the games where All-Stars are earned.
Of course, as always at this point, it does appear as though a few players have got their All-Stars nailed down. Most would expect the likes of Joe Canning, Jamie Barron and Mark Coleman to be guaranteed to be on the XV by now.
But there are no guarantees yet. As always, the All-Ireland final will have a massive influence on selections also.
While Galway hurlers are very short odds in most cases making them rather invaluable. This leaves us with pretty much just Cork and Waterford in value for money terms.
Here we are going to go down through each line of the field and select the hurler we feel is the best value from a betting point of view.
Goalkeeper – Stephen O’Keeffe (4/1)
Colm Callanan is the outstanding favourite for this position as of now at 4/6, however this is one position far from guaranteed. As most goalkeepers know, things can turn sour quite instantly as a number one.
At 4/1 O’Keeffe is good value here as he has been outstanding here all summer. Perhaps why the odds lie against him is the possibility of Waterford being eliminated from the championship this Sunday.
But O’Keeffe, alongside Anthony Nash, has been the most outstanding goalkeeper in this year’s championship. Making a brace of spectacular saves against Cork, O’Keeffe’s support to his defence is also of the highest quality.
Full-back line – Colm Spillane (5/1)
At the moment, all three of the Galway full-back line stand as the frontrunners in this race. However Sunday’s semi-final clash could certainly change all of this.
Currently eighth in the race according to the odds, Colm Spillane could most certainly be worth a shout here. Another stand-out performance will see these odds slashed come Sunday afternoon.
Spillane has been outstanding for Cork this season as one the newcomers to Kieran Kingston’s side. Adding a ruthless streak previously missing in this defence, the Castlelyons native played a huge part in Cork’s Munster championship triumph.
Half-back line – Tadhg de Búrca (7/2)
It’s slim-pickings value wise in the half-back line with a number of participants at quite short odds. No matter who’s selected here this winter, there will most likely be debate.
It’s a risky one that will require a lot of luck, but de Búrca could yet prove a shrewd selection here at this price. It would almost certainly require a Waterford victory this Sunday however.
But de Búrca would have been most people’s guess for an All-Star at six prior to his suspension. Should Derek McGrath’s side advance this Sunday he will be back for a final.
Midfield – Darragh Fitzgibbon (11/2)
Similar to the half-back line, the odds are quite short for most options at midfield. Again, as is the case most years with midfield, there will be those who feel aggrieved at being ignored here.
Both Waterford and Galway combinations alongside Lee Chin are strong favourites to claim awards here. But victory this Sunday would certainly catapult Darragh Fitzgibbon into the reckoning.
When you look at the calibre of opposition Fitzgibbon has faced in championship, his performances prove just how special a talent he really is. A top performance against the impressive midfield partnership of Waterford could land Fitzgibbon the nod here yet.
Half-forward line – Michael Walsh (15/2)
There is certainly a lot more selection here in the half-forward line as just Joe Canning appears to be a clear favourite.
Of the selections available here, it was difficult to select a realistic option at decent value. But due to his performances in the previous two outings, Brick Walsh may prove a decent choice at 15/2.
Again, this would rely on a Waterford victory this Sunday, but it’s certainly possible we may see Michael Walsh selected here. At 15/2 at least it’s certainly worth a shot.
Full-Forward line – Alan Cadogan (5/2)
The full-forward line may just be already selected bar a Cork victory here this Sunday. If this were to happen then Tipperary’s John McGrath may just be edged out.
Man-of-the-match in this year’s Munster final, Alan Cadogan is most certainly in with a strong chance of claiming an All-Star in 2017.
Cadogan has been causing havoc for defences in this year’s championship. In fact, he has been doing it for several years now but due to Cork’s dormant period very few were taking notice. We all know what he’s capable of now though and he may yet be rewarded with an All-Star.
Kevin Daly, Pundit Arena
odds via Paddy Power
Check out the latest episode of The 16th Man where we previewed this weekend’s clash between Cork and Waterford as well as discussing whether or not football’s Super 8s is doomed to failure.