Saturday 3 December 2016

Hurler of the Year snub an insult to Tipperary

Premier County up in arms after Pádraic Maher and Seamus Callanan lose out to Austin Gleeson in Hurler of the Year vote

Jackie Cahill

Published 05/11/2016 | 02:30

First things first - it's not Austin Gleeson's fault that he was crowned GAA/GPA Opel Hurler of the Year last night. In the eyes of his playing counterparts, the Waterford colossus deserved it - and after all, they're the guys he hurls against.

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However, perhaps the most thought-provoking point made on Twitter last night came from not a hurler, but a footballer.

Former Derry star Paddy Bradley suggested that the presence of two Tipperary men - Pádraic Maher and pre-vote favourite Seamus Callanan - in the three-man shortlist may have split the Premier County vote.

Figures may or may not be released from the GPA but it would be interesting to know what the combined Maher-Callanan vote was, in comparison to Gleeson's.

Bradley wrote: "Shock that. Callanan big favourite. Not that Gleeson hasn't been brilliant because he was. But did the Tipp men split the vote?"

Gleeson (21) was brilliant all year, and in a variety of positions, but he was taken off in the Munster final against a Tipp team containing Maher and Callanan that won by 21 points.

Maher was consistently excellent all season while Callanan's only below-par performance by his own high standards was the All-Ireland semi-final against Galway.

Scoop

Even then, he still managed to scoop away a superb hand-pass that allowed John McGrath to pounce for a crucial goal.

Debate will rage long and hard about the individual awards but kudos to Gleeson for scooping both the Young Hurler and Hurler of the Year accolades - emulating the feat of Clare's Tony Kelly in 2013.

When Ballyea star Kelly won Hurler of the Year, he had a team-mate up against him, Podge Collins, with Cork goalkeeper Anthony Nash also nominated.

Any split vote didn't affect Clare then, when players also chose their winner.

Former Tipperary midfielder Shane McGrath led the chorus of disappointment from Tipperary, tweeting: "Austin Gleeson is a serious talent. No doubt about that. But what more did one of the Tipp boys have to do to get it?"

What about the theory that rival counties simply don't like Tipp? After all, manager Michael Ryan suggested last February: "People love to beat us, we're almost public enemy number one."

Expanding on that theme, another former Tipperary player, 2010 All-Ireland medallist Darragh Egan, suggested that biased players from neighbouring counties may have played their part, snubbing Maher and Callanan in favour of Gleeson.

Egan told Tipp FM's Straight Talk: "In our geographical situation here, and our rivalry with other counties, I can't see where we're going to get a lot of votes from.

"Kilkenny, Galway, Cork, Offaly, Clare, any of them counties, I can't see too many of the lads voting for Tipp lads, especially if Tipp have beaten them in the championship this year.

"Also, within our own Tipp players, their votes are going to be split between Paudie and Seamie. I'm really, really disappointed for the two lads. Both had an equal chance of getting it in my opinion.

"Nine points from play in an All-Ireland final (Callanan) - one of the greatest exhibitions ever seen at Croke Park, and Paudie's consistency all year, absolutely outrageous.

"That gives the boys a bit of hunger for next year - that small percentage or two, that could get Seamie angry setting off for the 2017 campaign, the same with Paudie."

Just three times in Hurler of the Year history has the gong gone to a county that hasn't won the All-Ireland final. The recipients were Waterford men on each occasion, Gleeson following in the footsteps of previous Déise winners Tony Browne and Dan Shanahan.

But Tipp can console themselves with a haul of seven All-Stars, equalling their all-time annual best.

Irish Independent

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