Sport Hurling

Sunday 25 February 2018

Martin Breheny: Kilkenny and Tipp fail to make the cut

Clare 7
Cork 4
Dublin 3
Limerick 1

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28 September 2013; Anthony Nash, Cork, celebrates after scoring his side's first goal. GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Final Replay, Cork v Clare, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

IT’S 32 years since an All Star hurling team featured nobody from Kilkenny and Tipperary, but it’s likely to happen later this month when the 2013 selection is announced.

Kilkenny and Tipperary had several players in pole position for more All Star glory after they contested a highquality Allianz League final in May, but championship events dramatically altered the landscape as Clare and Cork emerged as the two who took the battle into Croke Park in September.

Clare’s success could take their representation as high as seven, having got eight in 1995 and six in 1997, the last two years they won All-Ireland titles. Here are my nominations lists and final selection:

Goalkeeper: Patrick Kelly (Clare); Anthony Nash (Cork); Gary Maguire (Dublin)

Despite being the first goalkeeper to concede five goals in an All-Ireland final since Stephen Byrne (Offaly) in 2000, Nash will win a second successive All Star award.

There was nothing he could have done about Clare’s goals last Saturday,

having been left badly exposed by his defenders. He had an excellent season overall and, in addition to performing his basic goalkeeping duties so well, he brought an added dimension to his game with his goalscoring feats from frees and penalties.

Kelly and Maguire had solid seasons and just edge out Limerick’s Nicky Quaid on the nomination list.

Selection: Nash

Full-backs: Michael Cahill (Tipperary); Cian Dillon (Clare); Peter Kelly (Dublin); Paul Murphy (Kilkenny); Richie McCarthy (Limerick); David McInerney  (Clare); Domhnall O’Donovan (Clare); Shane O’Neill (Cork); Conor O’Sullivan (Cork)

I’ve gone for three No 3s, but in the modern game, flexibility is allimportant.

Kelly and McInerney would be equally comfortable in the corners,

while McCarthy is a more oldfashioned full-back who protects his square with relentless determination.

He had some problems against Clare in the All-Ireland semi-final, but then so had most of the Limerick team on a day when they didn’t do themselves justice.

Prior to that, McCarthy had been outstanding as Limerick won the Muster title for the first time since 1996.

Kelly typified Dublin’s solidity this year, while McInerney played with a maturity which belied the fact that he is only 20 years old.

Michael Cahill and Paul Murphy had good seasons, but lose out because their championship campaigns were cut short and they were overtaken by players whose seasons extended into August and, in McInerney’s case, to the All-Ireland final.

Selections: Kelly, McCarthy, McInerney0

Half-backs: Brendan Bugler (Clare); Brian Hogan (Kilkenny); Brian Murphy (Cork); Kevin Moran (Waterford); Wayne McNamara (Limerick); Patrick O’Connor (Clare); Liam Rushe (Dublin); Conor Ryan (Clare); Tommy Walsh (Kilkenny)

Bugler will win his second successive All Star award after an excellent season where he delivered at a consistently high level as Clare carefully charted their way to the top.

He was an inspiring figure in most of  Clare’s games, just as Rushe was for Dublin.

Rushe can play in any outfield position, but Anthony Daly has settled on him as his first-choice centre-back, from where he controls much of the important play.

Murphy regularly fills the tough role of being assigned to the opposition’s main dangerman, a responsibility he discharges with consistent efficiency.

The rest of the contenders had good seasons too, as had Michael Carton (Dublin) and Gavin O’Mahony (Limerick), who don’t make the final nine.

Selections: Bugler, Rushe, Murphy

Midfield: Joey Boland (Dublin); Paul Browne (Limerick); Colm Galvin (Clare); Daniel Kearney (Cork); Brendan Maher (Tipperary), Patrick Donnellan (Clare)

Donnellan wears the No 6 jersey for Clare, but did much of his best hurling at midfield after Conor Ryan dropped into the half-back line.

Donnellan’s run through the middle, which set up Clare’s first goal last Saturday, established the Banner pattern for a memorable day, but he was consistent throughout the season and came with the added bonus of being an excellent captain.

Galvin (20) is one of Clare’s young guns who fired so powerfully among more experienced rivals. Browne is unlucky to lose out, while Kearney dropped back somewhat last Saturday after being an influential figure in Cork’s advance to the final. Limerick’s Donal O’Grady is unlucky not to make the final six.

Selections: Galvin, Donnellan.

Half-forwards: John Conlon (Clare); Seamus Harnedy (Cork); Conal Keaney (Dublin); Tony Kelly (Clare); Danny Sutcliffe (Dublin); Colin Ryan (Clare); Pa Cronin (Cork); Eoin Larkin (Kilkenny); James Ryan (Limerick)

Harnedy was one of the finds of the season, improving as he went and delivering possibly his best +performance of all last Saturday when he scored 1-2, while also presenting the Clare defence with all sorts of problems throughout the game. He was Cork’s second highest scorer this summer behind Patrick Horgan.

Kelly is top contender for Hurler of the Year, which is quite an accolade for a 19-year-old. He deserves the honour after being one of Clare’s most influential performers in their glory run to All-Ireland success, having earlier been a central to their survival in Division 1A.

The last teenager to win the Hurler of the Year award was Cork’s Brian Corcoran (19) in 1992.

Sutcliffe was consistent for Dublin in both league and championship and deserves to be included. His colleague Conal Keaney is unlucky to lose out. So too is Clare’s Colin Ryan, whose accuracy from frees – long and short – was a crucial contributor to the Banner success.

Selections: Harnedy, Kelly, Sutcliffe

Full-forwards: Podge Collins (Clare); Richie Hogan (Kilkenny); Declan Hannon (Limerick); Darach Honan (Clare); Patrick Horgan (Cork); Conor Lehane (Cork), Conor McGrath (Clare); ‘Dotsy’ O’Callaghan (Dublin), Shane O’Donnell (Clare)

He may not have been a consistent starter on the Clare team, but Shane O’Donnell’s exploits last Saturday (he scored 3-3 from open play) deserves to earn recognition on All Stars night.

However, it does not earn him a place on the team ahead of team-mates Podge Collins and Conor McGrath.

Collins had a quiet game last Saturday, but scored a total of 0-18 (Clare’s third highest scorer behind Colin Ryan and Tony Kelly) in the earlier championship games. McGrath took his championship total to 3-9 last Saturday, with his goal in the 62nd minute turning the game Clare’s way.

Patrick Horgan was Cork’s most consistent outfield player all season and is assured of an All Star award.

Selections: Collins, Horgan, McGrath

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