Kilkenny back on top with seven players in 2015 All-Stars selection
Published 05/11/2015 | 07:01
Kilkenny dominate the 2015 GAA/GPA Opel All-Star hurling team, reversing a recent trend which has seen their representation eclipsed by the team they had beaten in the All-Ireland final.
When they were champions in 2012 they had just five award winners, one less than Galway who they beat in that's year's final after a replay.
Last year they were league, Leinster and All-Ireland champions again but were one behind Tipperary's seven All Stars despite the Premier County missing out on any major trophy.
This year, however, they have comfortably topped the list with seven, led by corner-back Paul Murphy who has won his fourth award in the five years that he has become a permanent fixture on the team.
Ironically, in a year when Tipperary reclaimed the Munster title for the first time in three years, Seamus Callanan will be their only recipient.
Munster's hurling champions have failed to win their All-Ireland semi-final in four successive years now and that is reflected in their pool of All-Stars with just Callanan this year and Richie McCarthy in 2013 when Limerick were champions.
Callanan had an outstanding season, capped by his hat-trick of goals against Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final to finish with 5-20 to add to his 3-45 in the league.
John O'Dwyer, who scored 12 points, nine from play, in the two Munster Championship matches against Limerick and Waterford, pays the price for a below-par performance against Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final.
Kilkenny's haul brings the number of All-Stars won on Brian Cody's managerial watch to 92, six more than the entire collection in the 28 years that preceded the arrival of the game's most successful manager.
There are seven first-time winners including goalkeeper Colm Callanan who, at 33, must surely be among the oldest to be collecting a first award in the 45-year history of the scheme.
Callanan's All-Ireland final performance was supplemented by his penalty save against Dublin that gave him a distinct advantage.
Kilkenny captain Joey Holden and his colleague Ger Aylward, Galway's Daithi Burke and Cathal Mannion, Waterford's Maurice Shanahan and Tadhg De Búrca are the other first-time winners.
Mannion gets in ahead of colleagues Johnny Glynn and Jason Flynn after scoring 3-20 in his seven championship games.
But he failed to make an impression in both the Leinster final and All-Ireland final against Kilkenny, scoring just one point across both games.
Waterford may have lost to Tipperary in a Munster final and Kilkenny in an All-Ireland semi-final but they still pick up three awards as the impact of their league success and championship wins over Cork and Dublin is felt.
Noel Connors makes the cut for the second time, having previously been an All-Star in 2010.
De Búrca's effectiveness as a sweeper in a system that was so hard to break down for so long is recognised while Maurice Shanahan grew as the season progressed, performing an isolated role impressively at the head of Waterford's attack as he hit 2-38 in four championship games.
Inevitably, Kilkenny pair TJ Reid and Richie Hogan are named in the half-forward line, bringing to three the number of All-Stars they now have. Hogan was on the 2011 and 2014 teams, Reid making it in 2012 and 2014.
Murphy's credentials as the game's best defender at present are reflected in his selection once more.
Mick Fennelly may have missed chunks of the season because of a back injury but the power of his performances against Waterford and especially the second half of the All-Ireland final make him an obvious choice for a third All-Star at midfield where he partnered by David Burke, winning his second award after making the 2012 team in attack.
Aylward hit 3-5 from play on his championship debut against Wexford in June and kept the foot the floor sufficiently after that to claim a first award.
The spread of counties included is four, one more than last year when players from just Tipperary, Kilkenny and Limerick were honoured.
Reid, Callanan and Hogan are the three candidates for Hurler of the Year for the second successive year and that will be announced in the Convention Centre tomorrow night.
GAA/GPA Allstar Hurling Team 2015
1. Colm Callanan (Galway)
2. Paul Murphy (Kilkenny)
3. Joey Holden (Kilkenny)
4. Noel Connors (Waterford)
5. Daithi Burke (Galway)
6. Tadhg de Burca (Waterford)
7. Cillian Buckley (Kilkenny)
8. Michael Fennelly (Kilkenny)
9. David Burke (Galway)
10. Cathal Mannion (Galway)
11. Richie Hogan (Kilkenny)
12. TJ Reid (Kilkenny)
13. Ger Aylward (Kilkenny)
14. Seamus Callanan (Tipperary)
15. Maurice Shanahan (Waterford)