Wednesday 23 May 2018

Hurling team of the weekend: A Kerryman, a Londoner and a rejuvenated Conal Keaney make the side

Liam Rushe and Conor Whelan made the XV
Liam Rushe and Conor Whelan made the XV

Mícheál Ó Scannáil

It was an electric weekend of hurling, in what was the first outing of the new All-Ireland Championship format and the Joe McDonagh Cup.

Galway showed their killer instinct with a ruthless win over Offaly while Kilkenny, as they so often do, moved up a gear just when it was needed to beat an improved Dublin side.

In the Joe McDonagh, Kerry pulled off a big win over Laois in Austin Stack Park and Westmeath came out strongly in a local derby with their biggest rivals, Meath.

Dublin vs Kilkenny was the game of the weekend, but there fine displays at every encounter.

Here is your team of the week:

1. Eoin Murphy (Kilkenny)

Scored four points when Kilkenny desperately needed them. Controlled from the back and conceded two of the three goals from rebounds after impressive saves.

2. Sean Weir (Kerry)

Kerry got off the mark in the Joe McDonagh Cup against Laois on Sunday. Weir put in a monumental performance in Kerry’s fullback line and even bagged two points from play from cornerback.

3. Cian O'Callaghan (Dublin)

The Club All-Ireland winner was back for Dublin and put in a stellar performance on in-form Walter Walsh.  An unenviable task, O’Callaghan kept the giant to two points and hampered his influence on the game.

4. Ben Conneely (Offaly)

Conneely was part of this weekend’s standout dual with Conor Whelan. Galway sliced Offaly’s defence open at times but Coneely’s tenacious defending was to thank for the Faithful County keeping in touch in the first half.

5. Chris Crummey (Dublin)

Crummey was instrumental to all that Dublin did well. He was a titan in the air and defended Kilkenny’s John Donnelly well all game. When the Lucan man beautifully struck Dublin into a five point lead the game looked as good as over.

6.Sean Moran (Dublin)

Fresh from winning Club Hurler of the Year, Moran continued his form into the inter county season. TJ Reid is in blistering form and Moran kept him to just a point from play. If Dublin had won Reid’s absence from play would have been heavily noted.

7. Aidan Harte (Galway)

A pillar in Galway’s defence he did a lot of quiet work in keeping Offaly under pressure.

8. Richie Leahy (Kilkenny)

Even though he was substituted, Leahy covered every blade of grass in Parnell Park and  was part of a dominant Kilkenny midfield.

9. James Maher (Kilkenny)

The second part of the Kilkenny midfield that controlled Dublin, Maher got up the field to score two points from play.

10. Kevin O’Loughlin (London)

Kevin O’Loughlin put in an all-round outstanding performance in the Exiles win over Derry. O’Loughlin ruled the skies and scored an all-important 1-2 from play in such a tight game.

11.  Conal Keaney (Dublin)

Keaney silenced doubters who said the 35 year old was finished. Dublin supporters will be delighted that Pat Gilroy could pull Keaney out of retirement as he scored four points from play. There was a notable change when he left the field with a minor injury leading to Kilkenny's victory.

12. Joseph Cooney (Galway)

Cooney drove Galway on throughout their clash with Offaly. His 1-4 from play says enough about his performance.

13. Conor Whelan (Galway)

Whelan had his work cut out with Conneely’s defensive efforts but the Kinvara native still managed 1-1 from play.

14. Liam Rushe (Dublin)

Man of the Match, Rushe didn’t manage to get on the scoresheet but created two goals and ran amuck in the Galway fullback line winning countless frees for Paul Ryan.

15. Daithi Sands (Down)

Sands was the destroyer of Antrim in his sides demolition of their local rivals. With 3-3 from he was one of the standout performers of the weekend.

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