Tuesday 19 November 2019

Banner Bugler sounds end of Walsh's All Star sequence

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

TOMMY Walsh's remarkable All Star sequence has ended with his omission from this year's hurling team.

The Kilkenny ace won nine successive awards between 2003 and 2011, but loses out this season to All Star newcomer Brendan Bugler (Clare), who takes the right half-back berth.

It's Bugler's first award and Clare's first since Tony Griffin was chosen at left full-forward in 2006.

While Walsh will be disappointed by the end of his record-breaking sequence, his colleague Henry Shefflin reached yet another milestone by winning an 11th award.

He set a record last year when edging past nine-time winners, DJ Carey and has now opened up a lead of two at the top of the honours' list.

Shefflin won his first award in 2000 and has been honoured every year since, with the exception of 2001 and 2010.

It's an incredible haul, made all the more remarkable by the fact that he has repeatedly had to battle back from serious injuries. A shoulder problem ruled him out of hurling until the Leinster semi-final against Dublin in June.

He quickly resumed normal service and went on to score 3-56 in five games, making him the championship's top scorer, nine points clear of Galway's Joe Canning.

Shefflin was at his best in the second half of the drawn All-Ireland final when he led Kilkenny's revival and again in the replay when he delivered a man of the Match performance as he created a record by becoming the first player to win nine All-Ireland medals, having started in all of them.

While Shefflin's ascent into previously uncharted All Star history and Walsh's omission for the first time since he made his championship debut nine years ago will be of considerable interest in Kilkenny, there's certain to be surprise in the county at Galway's higher representation.

Despite winning both the All-Ireland and Allianz League Division 1 titles, Kilkenny took only five All Stars, one less than Galway, whom they beat in the All-Ireland final replay. However, Galway easily beat Kilkenny in the Leinster final, while the first All-Ireland final clash was drawn.

Galway's six All Stars are dotted across all five outfield sectors, including two in the full-forward line, where Joe Canning and David Burke fill the No 14 and No 15 jerseys respectively.

It's Canning's third award, while Burke is honoured for the first time, as are colleagues Fergal Moore, David Collins and Iarla Tannian.

Canning's Portumna colleague, Damien Hayes wins a third award, this time at left half-forward, completing a line which also includes Shefflin and his Ballyhale clubmate, TJ Reid.

Waterford's John Mullane picks up a fifth award and is joined on the team by team-mate colleague Kevin Moran, who is at midfield. It's a generous end-of-term return for Waterford, who won no titles whereas Tipperary, who won the Munster crown, have no representative.

Padraig Maher was probably their strongest contender, but lost out to Collins at left half-back.

As well as attackers Shefflin and Reid, Kilkenny have three defenders on the team, Paul Murphy, JJ Delaney, who wins his sixth award, and Brian Hogan.

The defence is completed by the Banner's Bugler, whose excellent form was a key component in the Clare's progress this season.

Anthony Nash becomes the third Cork goalkeeper to win an All Star award, following in the footsteps of Ger Cunningham and Donal Og Cusack.

Ironically, Cusack was still very much the No 1 choice for Cork until sustaining an Achilles tendon injury in the league semi-final in April, which ruled him out for the rest of the season.

Nash made a huge impact as Cork reached the All-Ireland semi-finals, a run that helped the Kanturk man to hold off the challenge of James Skehill (Galway) and Nicky Quaid (Limerick) for the All Star berth.

It has turned into quite a season for the Kanturk club, who are also represented on the football team through Aidan Walsh at midfield.

Five counties -- Galway (6), Kilkenny (5), Waterford (2), Cork (1) and Clare (1) -- are represented on the hurling team.

That's only one more than the football team, which is drawn from four counties, Donegal (8), Mayo (4), Cork (2) and Dublin (1).

Cork is the only county to be double represented.

Murphy, Hogan, Shefflin and Mullane are the only survivors from last year's hurling team.

The All Star awards were presented at a glitzy function in the Convention Centre, Dublin last night.

Irish Independent

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