The Railway Cup is a shadow of its former self, as it takes place this weekend, weather permitted. Nonetheless strong squads have been named for both Munster and Leinster.
However, that got us thinking here at Pundit Arena. In a parallel GAA universe with the Railway Cup thriving and filling Croke Park on an annual basis, what would the strongest teams look like?
Yesterday, we brought you our Munster selection. Today, we turn to Leinster. While Kilkenny are undoubtedly the strongest side at present, there are quality hurlers from all over the province, and it makes for an exciting line-up.
Anyway, enough talk, here is what we believe is the strongest XV in Leinster.
1. Eoin Murphy (Kilkenny)
In recent years, Dublin have boasted two All-Star quality goalkeepers in Gary Maguire and Alan Nolan. However, in 2015, Ger Cunningham’s side struggled in this department, with the puckouts causing several problems against Waterford in the quarter-final. Murphy has shown immense consistency for Kilkenny, and deserves to slot in here.
2. Paul Murphy (Kilkenny)
The Danesfort man has grown in recent years into one of, if not the best defender in the country. He has marked the top forwards in the game and come out on top every time. Tommy Walsh’s retirement was not a bitter pill to swallow for the Cats with Murphy commandeering the back.
3. Peter Kelly (Dublin)
Joey Holden was immense throughout 2015, but injury problems to Kelly were the reason Dublin fell short in Leinster and All-Ireland quarter-finals. An inexperienced full-back line failed to function in his absence. He missed Lucan Sarsfields’ championship campaign, and Ger Cunningham will be eager to see the 2013 All-Star back in the fold for 2016.
4. Joey Holden (Kilkenny)
In light of a powerful display last week in Oulart-the Ballagh’s win over Cuala, there was a temptation to give the nod to Keith Rossiter. However Holden could not be omitted from this selection, even if he is shunted to the corner by Kelly.
5. Lee Chin (Wexford)
Wexford did not push on from the progress made in 2013 and 2014 this year, but Chin’s quality is evident. It is easy to forget that he is just 23, and has a big future ahead. One of the most skillful hurlers around, he will lead by example in 2016 once again.
6. Liam Rushe (Dublin)
Rushe is one of the best in the country. Dublin just aren’t able to figure out his best position. The St Pat’s Palmerstown clubman has been at the heart of the Dubs’ revolution since 2009, and the Boys in Blue will be eager to take the next step in 2016, starting by replicating 2013 with the likely path of Wexford, Kilkenny and Galway to capture Leinster honours.
7. Cillian Buckley (Kilkenny)
Buckley is another who has shown the way for Kilkenny, and the Cats have not missed the retiring cohort in any way since the likes of Walsh, JJ Delaney and Brian Hogan called it a day. Buckley has shown at every level that he is a top class operator.
8. Michael Fennelly (Kilkenny)
The 2011 Hurler of the Year is still playing at that kind of level, justified by his All-Star award in 2015. Arguably the best midfielder in the country, Fennelly is the ideal engine for a team. Injury has hampered him in recent years, but when fully fit, few can live with him.
9. Zane Keenan (Laois)
The Laois man was instrumental as they overcame Offaly in the Leinster quarter-final last year, ensuring that they won’t have to compete in the Leinster round robin for 2016. Leave off the cliché ‘if he was from a stronger county’… Keenan is a quality hurler, and the O’Moore County will be quietly fancying themselves to reach a Leinster final next year.
10. TJ Reid (Kilkenny)
This year’s Hurler of the Year has stepped up to lead the Kilkenny attack in recent years, and is one of the most dangerous forwards in the game at present. It would be hard to argue against his inclusion here.
11. Richie Hogan (Kilkenny)
It couldn’t be anyone else, could it? The Danesfort man won Hurler of the Year in 2014, and backed this up with an All-Star this term. He is a player of real quality, and don’t bet against him adding to his seven All-Ireland titles to rival Henry Shefflin in the coming years.
12. Danny Sutcliffe (Dublin)
The St Jude’s forward needs more consistency in his game, but when on form, few backs can contain him. He showed his class and ball-winning ability against Galway in Tullamore last year when everything was falling in around the Dubs.
13. Conor McDonald (Wexford)
McDonald showed in Wexford’s run to the u21 All-Ireland final that he is as skillful as any forward in the game at present. The Yellowbellies are a side on the rise at the moment, and McDonald is the marquee forward.
14. Mark Schutte (Dublin)
Schutte led Cuala to a Leinster final this year, beating Coolderry and Clara after capturing a first county title since 1994. He brought his league form into the championship with Dublin, and was tormenter in chief as the Dubs successfully negotiated their way through the qualifiers for the first time ever.
15. Brian Carroll (Offaly)
Some Kilkenny players may feel hard done by here, but Carroll has proven time and time again over the years to be a top class forward. Indeed, in Kilkenny’s 2014 win against the Faithful, it was only Carroll who stood up, scoring 1-10, with only five points from frees. This is all the more incredible considering the one-sided nature of the game.
Would you make any changes to this selection? As always, let us know your thoughts on our GAA Facebook page.
You can read our Munster selection here.
Brian Barry, Pundit Arena.
Read More About: brian carroll, cillian buckley, conor mcdonald, danny sutcliffe, eoin murphy, Hurling, joey holden, lee chin, Leinster, liam rushe, mark schutte, michael fennelly, Munster, paul murphy, peter kelly, railway cup, richie hogan, tj reid, zane keenan