It was a huge weekend of hurling, and Sean Cremin is here with the PA Hurling Team of the Week.
Two games lived up to expectation while the Leinster final was a big disappointment. Tipperary answered some questions while Galway increased the amount of questions that will be asked them. Dublin failed to live up to expectation as Kilkenny got their hands back on the Bob O’Keefe Cup. There were a lot of good performances and here are the players that stood out.
1. Alan Nolan – Dublin
Nolan was excellent in goal for Dublin and was the one real positive from their poor performance. He may not have exactly justified the Man of the Match award but he did make the scoreboard look more respectable. His rushing out of the goal reflected German soccer goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and he did make some very good saves. He was the most impressive goalkeeper on show over the weekend.
2. Michael Cahill – Tipperary
Despite conceding four goals, Cahill was at his ever consistent best in the Tipperary full-back line. He is definitely one of the best corner-backs playing the game at the moment. He is a very tight man marker and a very skilful player. Tipperary may have done most of their damage in attack but thirteen points is a relatively good number of points for a team to concede at this level and Cahill was a strong contributor to that.
3. JJ Delaney –Kilkenny
Kilkenny reeled back the years all over the park with their high-pressure and intense tackling. This was very evident in the full-back line and JJ Delaney was a rock at the back. Dublin only really took them on once when Colm Cronin scored his goal, but other than that Delaney protected the Kilkenny goal very well. He saw off many different opponents including Conal Keaney and Danny Sutcliffe, who were both substituted.
4. Jackie Tyrell – Kilkenny
Tyrrell played the first-half as a sweeper and played the role very well. He cut out the space for the Dublin attack and got himself on plenty of ball in his free role. He had a direct opponent in the second-half and like Delaney coughed up very few chances to the Dublin forwards. He looks much more at home in the number four shirt after a brief move to centre-back and played his trademark game against Dublin in the Leinster final.
5. Joey Holden – Kilkenny
The defence is dominated by Kilkenny players, but any team that only concedes ten scores in a provincial final is worthy of recognition. Holden featured in the early stages of the league but moved to the bench towards the latter stages and many did not expect him to feature in the championship. He has played the last two games and did very well against Dublin. He showed some good fielding and made one outstanding goal-saving block in the second-half.
6. Brian Hogan – Kilkenny
There is a fourth Kilkenny man in the defence with Brian Hogan getting in ahead of Padraic Maher. Maher played a huge role in Tipperary’s win, but did cough up three goals when playing at full-back. Hogan was back to his best for the Cats. He is a massive presence in the heart of the defence. The Kilkenny defence has really tightened up since in return to the side. Despite giving away a penalty, he marshalled the defence very well and also scored a monster point at an important stage of the game.
7. Andrew Shore – Wexford
The Wexford man was the best of their defenders against Clare in a game that they feel they should have won. He was not named in the original starting line-up but he took his place at right half-back and played very well. He played as the free man after Padraic Collins was sent off and played this role very effectively. He was forced to leave the field through injury during extra-time and his loss was felt as Wexford allowed Clare to get a second chance.
8. Richie Hogan – Kilkenny
Hogan has been the best player in Ireland so far this season and was by far the best player on the pitch in Kilkenny’s Leinster final triumph. He has been a complete revelation since his move to midfield. He played there in the 2012 All-Ireland hurling final and looked lost but now he has found his feet in the position and is currently the best hurler in Ireland. He was everywhere on the field and the ball simply seems to be following him. He is at the top of his game at the moment and could lead the Cats to the All-Ireland.
9. Noel McGrath – Tipperary
Tipperary need Noel McGrath playing well if they are to succeed and McGrath finally seemed to be on the way back to his best against Galway. He had number thirteen on his back but he played much further out the field and finally seemed to be showing his full range of talents. He showed his ability to score and ability to create and provided a lot to Tipp’s victory. He is one the country’s best on his day and Tipperary need him on top form if they are to advance further.
10. TJ Reid – Kilkenny
The first half-forward slot could have gone to many players, John O’Dwyer from Tipperary had a great game and Eoin Larkin and Colin Fennelly both played big roles for Kilkenny but TJ Reid gets the nod for his overall contribution from play and from frees. Along with Richie Hogan, he has really stepped up to the mantle for Kilkenny this year. He has taken over the free taking duty and is a real leader for the Cats. He was very prominent in the Dublin game.
11. Joe Canning – Galway
Canning very much reflected Galway’s performance in that he was outstanding for the first-half and appeared to run out of steam in the second-half. He put on a master class in the first-half of the game and showed how good he can be. Some might criticise the fact that he failed to deliver when Galway needed him most but he cannot play against teams on his own. The rest of the team failed and that should not take away from Canning’s excellent performance.
12. Liam Óg McGovern – Wexford
McGovern is the second Wexford man in the team and fully justifies his inclusion. He was outstanding throughout for Wexford as they almost dethroned the reigning All-Ireland champions. He contributed 1-4 from play and was a constant thorn in Clare’s side. He got on some very good possession and showed a great ability to run at defenders. He could have scored more which was the only fault in an otherwise excellent display.
13. Jonathan Glynn – Galway
The Galway man was excellent against Tipperary. Again criticism may be thrown his direction for not delivering when it really mattered but a full-forward is only as good as the supply of ball that is coming and this was non-existent for the last twenty minutes. He caused huge trouble for the first fifty minutes, scoring two great goals as well as providing assists. It is a shame that we will no longer see his aerial prowess on show for the rest of the summer.
14.Seamus Callanan – Tipperary
Callanan is a player who has rightly been questioned and criticised for his performance in big championship games but he delivered for the Premier in a huge game against Galway. It is impossible to argue with a tally of 3-8, including 3-1 from play. The Galway full-back line was vulnerable and Tipperary exposed this by playing good ball into an isolated Callanan who duly delivered. Bigger tests will lie ahead but there is some weight off Callanan’s back after the Galway game.
15. Conor McGrath – Clare
There is only one Clare man in this week’s selection on it is corner-forward, Conor McGrath. Clare can count themselves lucky to still be in the championship and McGrath was a vital part of their comeback against Wexford. He scored 1-5, a vital extra-time goal and a point that almost secured victory. He summed up the character shown by Clare to pull a result out of the bag despite an overall poor performance.
Player of the Week – Richie Hogan
Sean Cremin, Pundit Arena