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The Five Standout Performers Of The 2017 Hurling Championship So Far

Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Semi-Final, Semple Stadium, Thurles, Co. Tipperary 18/6/2017 Cork vs Waterford Cork’s Mark Coleman Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Oisin Keniry

No matter what happens from here on in, 2017 will go down as a historic year for hurling.   

Some rather unlikely heroes have made a name for themselves and played their part in the excitement while the usual suspects have also had a major role to play.

If we’re all honest, nobody saw the championship playing out the way it has.

If you’d told us in January that Cork would be Munster champions, having beaten Tipperary, Waterford and Clare, nobody would have believed you.

INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Who would have thought we’d see Kilkenny defeated by Wexford and Waterford? Brian Cody to be eliminated in the qualifiers? No chance.

Whatever about that, even fewer would have predicted the rise of Wexford. Tipperary, written off by everyone, Galway to be heavy favourites to take Liam MacCarthy home? All highly unlikely.

But which stars have played the main roles in this dramatic season so far? Let’s take a look.


1. Mark Coleman (Cork)

Cork have proven the so-called mushroom theory once more. Written off as the worst team in Munster, the Rebels had little optimism surrounding them going into 2017. Kieran Kingston’s faith in his young guns has changed the tune completely.

Five fresh faces have added immensely to this Cork side, but Mark Coleman has been the most consistent. The Blarney man possesses an abundance of skill and is one of the most composed defenders in the championship.

INPHO/Tommy Dickson

At this point, nobody could leave Coleman out of a Team of the Year selection. It appears to be a two-horse race between Coleman and Galway hurler Conor Whelan for Young Hurler of the Year. A lot may depend on either side reaching an All-Ireland final.


2. Jamie Barron (Waterford)

Waterford haven’t by any means had a vintage championship but Derek McGrath will be quite content to be where he is right now. A historic victory over Kilkenny wasn’t too bad either.

Very few Déise men left Thurles proud of their performance in June. One man who could hold his head high was UCC student Jamie Barron, who has once again been sensational this summer and without him the Déise may very well have suffered defeat to Kilkenny.

INPHO/Cathal Noonan

An All-Star in 2016, Barron’s performances to date have equalled, if not surpassed, his 2016 performances. Should he continue with this level of consistency, and if Waterford can progress far enough, the Hurler of the Year gong may not be out of the question.


3. Conor Cooney (Galway)

The truth is that Galway have been performing so well as a unit, that it’s difficult to select a star performer. The forward sextet have clicked superbly, while David Burke has reached his high standards once more.

INPHO/Bryan Keane

But in both of Galway’s big games, Conor Cooney has excelled. Suffering throughout his career from injuries, Cooney is enjoying a rich vein of form right now. Landing 1-3 against Dublin, Cooney struck seven from play against a defensive Wexford outfit.

Amazingly, for a man of his talent, injury has prevented Cooney from ever receiving an All-Star. This is likely to change in 2017, however, should the St. Thomas’ man continue to show the form he has so far displayed. Galway supporters will certainly hope to see more of the same.


4. Lee Chin (Wexford)

Wexford, alongside Cork, have been the story of the year so far. What Davy Fitzgerald has managed to achieve in such a short space of time has been staggering.

Of course, every side has its leader, and there is no doubt as to who the Yellowbellies’ leader is. Lee Chin almost single-handedly dragged Wexford over the line in their historic victory over the Cats. Chin’s athleticism combined with his skill has been a joy to watch so far this summer.

INPHO/Oisin Keniry

An early candidate for Hurler of the Year, the Faythe Harriers hurler will be hopeful that Wexford can once again bounce back from defeat. Chin has almost guaranteed himself an All-Star with his performance to date.


5. Conor McGrath (Clare)

Clare have been disappointing so far in 2017. Much was made of the departure of Davy Fitz and how it would aid Clare. But it appears the same issues are still there, even if to a lesser extent.

The Clare full-forward line are starved of possession. What makes this even more baffling is the talent they hold in this line. Conor McGrath is unfortunate to hurl in this side, but still he makes such good use of so little possession. Constantly a threat, he’s struck 2-4 in two games, with a limited amount of ball.

INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Clare face a Tipperary side who are threatening to return to form. If they are to defeat the Premier then surely they must make better use of McGrath. If the Cratloe man were receiving constant service, the return would most likely be frightening. But even without it, he has been causing severe damage.

Kevin Daly, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.