Monday 29 May 2017

Waterford dominate Hurling Team of the League selection

Waterford players celebrate their Allianz NHL final victory over Cork
Waterford players celebrate their Allianz NHL final victory over Cork
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Waterford’s third league success has been built on a solid defence that has helped them to five ‘cleansheets’ in eight games, including two against Division 1 opponents, Galway and Cork. Inevitably they dominate the Irish Independent’s Hurling Team of the League with six selections

1. Stephen O’Keeffe

(Waterford)

Being protected by the tightest defence in the campaign gave him a comfortable ride – they only conceded three goals from general play – but his save from Seamus Harnedy in the final typified his performances.

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Stephen O’Keeffe believes the new penalty rules will be a test of nerve for all involved

2. Paul Schutte

(Dublin)

Has developed as a really forceful defender in this campaign, closing out some of the best forwards and instinctively attacking the ball at every opportunity

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Dublin's Paul Schutte tries to win possession of the sliothar under pressure from Tipperary's Denis Maher

3. Peter Kelly

(Dublin)

A return to his best position, after a spell at centre-back, gave Dublin a steadier hand for the closing stages.

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Peter Kelly, Dublin

4. Noel Connors

(Waterford)

If Connors was a rugby player he’d wear No 7 across his back. For hooking, blocking and emerging with possession from so many of those rucks that tend to form in Waterford games, there has been no one better.

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Waterford defender Noel Connors celebrates his side's league semi-final victory over Tipp on Sunday

5. Austin Gleeson

(Waterford)

Emerging as one of the game’s great talents, Gleeson has class in abundance and the versatility to play across any line. So measured in his clearances.

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3 May 2015; Austin Gleeson, centre, Waterford, and teammate Shane Fives, left, in action against Seamus Harnery, Cork. Allianz Hurling League, Division 1 Final, Cork v Waterford. Semple Stadium, Thurles, Co. Tipperary. Picture credit: Cody Glenn / SPORTSFILE

6. Padraic Maher

(Tipperary)

The rock on which the Tipperary defence is built, their outstanding player in the games against Galway and Kilkenny.

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Padraic Maher celebrates a point from James Woodlock in their win over Clare

7. Tadhg de Burca

(Waterford)

The fulcrum of arguably Waterford’s most influential line, De Burca provides the hard edge and is a primary source of possession.

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19 April 2015; Tadhg De Burca and Barry Coughlan, left, Waterford, in action against Michael Cahill, centre, and Jason Forde, Tipperary. Allianz Hurling League, Division 1 Semi-Final, Tipperary v Waterford. Nowlan Park, Kilkenny. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

8. Kevin Moran

(Waterford)

If hurling had an order of merit Moran would currently top it. Deise’s leader and Man of the Match in the League semi-final, the No 10 on his back is merely for identification.

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Kevin Moran, Waterford

9. Tony Kelly

(Clare)

More attuned to half-forward play but their game-plan ensures midfield is also his hinterland. Missed the first two defeats but found impressive form towards the end of the league.

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Clare boss Davy Fitzgerald and Tony Kelly

10. Seamus Harnedy

(Cork)

Brings an exceptional work-rate to his game but also chips in with key scores, including the winner against Dublin in the semi-final. Finished with 0-21.

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Seamus Harnedy, Cork, in action against Dublin. Allianz Hurling League, Division 1 Semi-Final, Cork v Dublin. Nowlan Park, Kilkenny. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile.

11. Pauric Mahony

(Waterford)

A scoring machine for the League champions, finishing with 1-90, 1-19 from play. But even that disguises the quality of his deliveries and his industry in deeper positions.

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Waterford's Pauric Mahony

12. Mark Schutte

(Dublin)

Ripped Limerick apart in a League quarter-final and continued his fine form against Cork in the League semi-final 1-3. A vastly improved forward.

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Mark Schutte, Dublin, in action against Wayne McNamara, Limerick

13. Richie Hogan

(Kilkenny)

The current Hurler of the Year was used quite sparingly during the campaign but he still amassed 1-43 (0-13 from play). His opening night performance against Cork a real highlight.

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2014 Hurler of the Year Richie Hogan

14. Seamus Callanan

(Tipperary)

Started slowly but built momentum and was scintillating when Tipp were at their best. He finished with 3-45 but some of his touches were glorious, like his pass for James Woodlock’s goal against Clare.

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Seamus Callanan, Tipperary

15. Patrick Horgan

(Cork)

Hard to exclude Conor Lehane but Horgan’s free-taking carried Cork through so many games. Disappointed in the final but still finished with 2-87, 2-19 from play in eight games.

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Cork’s Patrick Horgan will test the Waterford defence to its limit today

Irish Independent

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