Saturday 17 November 2018

Kilkenny and Tipperary dominate our team of the Allianz Hurling League

Padraic Maher, Tony Kelly and TJ Reid
Padraic Maher, Tony Kelly and TJ Reid
Eoin Murphy Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Kilkenny are League champions once again and it's Cody's Cats who dominate our hurling team of the year.

Goalkeeper

Eoin Murphy (Kilkenny)

Spectacular saves are now his hallmark - against Cork, Waterford and especially from John O'Dwyer on Sunday to usher Kilkenny to an 18th league title. On top of his booming long-range frees and puck-out variety, Murphy is the game's outstanding goalkeeper.

Right corner-back

Richie English (Limerick)

Limerick returned to 1A after leaking just 1-77 in their five group games and, while 'scores against' soared after that, English was a solid, dependable presence across their last line.

Full-back

Liam Ryan (Wexford)

Stretched when Wexford lost to Tipperary and were hit for three goals but otherwise, Ryan was a commanding force as they kept three clean sheets and conceded just a goal in each of their other three games.

Left corner-back

Paddy Deegan (Kilkenny)

Struggled early in the campaign but thrived in recent games with magnificent fielding and deft touch clearances from a position he hasn't always been accustomed to at club level.

Right half-back

Paudie Foley (Wexford)

Subdued against Kilkenny the second day but provided physical presence on either wing for Wexford and hit six points from play.

Centre-back

Cillian Buckley (Kilkenny)

An inspiring figure as Kilkenny turned their season around, holding that middle channel and reading breaks around him with near-perfect timing. Kilkenny's ideal leader at the back now.

Left half-back

Padraic Maher (Tipperary)

Slight accommodation, given he spent most of his time in the centre but the five-time All-Star's form rarely dips and this league campaign was no different.

Midfield

Tony Kelly (Clare)

Clare dropped anchor in that epic 100-minute plus quarter-final against Limerick decided by a shoot-out but not before Kelly stitched his name to six points from midfield, mirroring what he did consistently throughout the league.

Midfield

Ronan Maher (Tipperary)

Wasn't always his position as Michael Ryan tried different combinations but when Ronan Maher played there he was hugely effective. On top of that there was that monster sideline against Limerick.

Right half-forward

John McGrath (Tipperary)

Didn't catch fire until the play-offs and was exceptional against Dublin and Limerick especially but his piece of skill to set up Jason Forde's first goal against Kilkenny was the mark of him.

Centre-forward

TJ Reid (Kilkenny)

Master craftsman who has carried Kilkenny through so many difficult moments, including Sunday's first half. Hit 1-81 overall, despite starting just six games and coming on in one other. In those six starts he hit double-figures each time. .

Left half-forward

David Reidy (Clare)

Brilliant in Clare's flying start from half-forward, Reidy hit 2-8 from play, 2-15 overall in six starts.

Right corner-forward

Aaron Gillane (Limerick)

In a debut season, Gillane's 6-57 return is most impressive. Three of his goals were converted penalties to back up his 2017 U-21 form and put him just ahead of Wexford's Rory O'Connor.

Full-forward

Jason Forde (Tipperary)

In the absence of Seamus Callanan Forde has really stepped up to hit 7-72 in the campaign, the highest individual total.

Left corner-forward

Walter Walsh (Kilkenny)

Can be peripheral for long spells in games but Kilkenny have grown to depend on his surges and they enjoyed a 3-13 return from his towering presence, his goals pivotal against Tipperary (twice) and Wexford in the semi-final.

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