Kilkenny set to dominate awards
Changes to the GAA's All Star scheme may be announced tomorrow in Croke Park with Opel expected to be unveiled as new sponsors.
But one aspect that is sure not to change is Kilkenny's dominance of the hurling team in 2011.
The new All-Ireland champions are entitled to expect at least seven awards on the back of their championship dominance.
An Irish Independent team would feature seven Kilkenny players, with four from league champions Dublin, three from Tipperary and just one, John Mullane, from Waterford.
Dublin's Gary Maguire hangs on in goal in a tight call ahead of David Herity and Brendan Cummins.
The greatest challenge is to settle on a full-back line. Jackie Tyrrell had some anxious moments against Wexford but has stormed back. Paul Murphy has been a revelation in his first season for Kilkenny. Dublin's Peter Kelly stepped into the breach at full-back against Galway when Tomas Brady limped off and never looked back with some powerful displays.
Michael Cahill and Paul Curran minded the house with great care and attention for Tipperary all summer. Curran has rarely dipped below '8 out of 10' form this season but with flexibility we feel compelled to include Kelly somewhere on the line, with Murphy also featuring.
The half-back line goes close to picking itself. Padraic Maher was a pillar of consistency at left half-back and even JJ Delaney's tour de force on Sunday won't dislodge him.
Kilkenny captain Brian Hogan was rock solid at centre-back all season while Tommy Walsh on the right wing is an automatic choice.
Waterford's Kevin Moran and Tipperary's Gearoid Ryan push hard for a place at midfield but realistically Michael Fennelly and Liam Rushe have the two positions locked down.
At half-forward, Henry Shefflin and Richie Power are automatic choices, with John Mullane joining them.
Lar Corbett had done enough to merit a place before last Sunday's game while Richie Hogan capped his best year for Kilkenny with that wonderful goal in the final.
Dublin's Paul Ryan finished top scorer with 2-47 and that merits special consideration.
Irish Independent hurling All Stars --
Gary Maguire (Dublin); Paul Murphy (Kilkenny), Paul Curran (Tipperary), Peter Kelly (Dublin); Tommy Walsh (Kilkenny), Brian Hogan (Kilkenny), Padraic Maher (Tipperary); Michael Fennelly (KIlkenny), Liam Rushe (Dublin); John Mullane (Waterford), Richie Power (Kilkenny), Henry Shefflin (KIlkenny); Paul Ryan (Dublin), Lar Corbett (Tipperary), Richie Hogan (KIlkenny).