Wednesday 17 January 2018

Shefflin's perfect 10 as Cats top Stars list

Henry Shefflin tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the semi-final defeat of Cork. Photo: Sportsfile
Henry Shefflin tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the semi-final defeat of Cork. Photo: Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Henry Shefflin has become the first ever Gaelic games star to hit double figures in the All Stars scheme.

Shefflin will tonight receive his 10th award, surpassing his ex Kilkenny colleague DJ Carey and former Kerry footballer Pat Spillane, who both have nine.

But still breathing down Shefflin's neck, and joining Carey and Spillane on nine, is Tommy Walsh, who continues his remarkable record of winning an All Star in every year that he has been a senior inter-county hurler.

Walsh made his debut in 2003 and has won nine successive All Stars in five different positions since then, a record sequence in the 41 years since the awards' inception. There was no doubt about the selection of either Shefflin or Walsh, but for Shefflin to reach double figures is a significant milestone.

Shefflin has won seven of his All Stars at centre-forward, while Walsh has been selected at right half-back for the fifth successive year.

Kilkenny dominate the team with eight, including the entire half-forward line, with Michael Rice and Richie Power alongside Shefflin. Richie Hogan is in the full-forward line, with his namesake Brian at centre-back, Michael Fennelly at midfield and Paul Murphy at corner-back.

But Jackie Tyrrell and JJ Delaney, who were both cornerstones of Kilkenny's magnificent defensive effort against Tipperary in the All-Ireland final, have been omitted.

Delaney was Man of the Match in that game but had struggled against Dublin in the Leinster final and that counted against him in his battle for the No 7 shirt with Padraic Maher.

Maher was never likely to lose out, given his high level of consistent performances in Munster and against Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final.

But the temptation to 'accommodate' Delaney at No 6 in preference to his captain Brian Hogan was resisted.

Not surprisingly Murphy's strong performances at corner-back have been recognised, while league champions Dublin have two representatives, goalkeeper Gary Maguire and midfielder Liam Rushe.

Maguire and Rushe are Dublin's fourth and fifth All Stars, following on from Mick Bermingham in 1971, Brian McMahon in 1990 and Alan McCrabbe in 2009.

They might have expected that tally to be three as Peter Kelly had strong claims to contest either full-back or left corner-back.


Consequently, Munster champions Tipperary can be pleased with four awards, with Paul Curran and Michael Cahill -- in addition to Maher -- giving them half of the defence despite their comprehensive All-Ireland defeat.

The GAA and GPA have merged their schemes for the first time under the Opel banner and the awards will be presented at a gala dinner in Dublin's Convention Centre tonight. Maguire, Rushe, Cahill, Murphy and both Hogans are winning All Stars for the first time.

Lar Corbett is winning his third successive All Star but it's the first time he has been selected in his more natural habitat in the full-forward line.

John Mullane is Waterford's sole representative -- he also wins for the third successive year.

Maher is claiming his second All Star in three years. In 2009 he was chosen at full-back, but last year he lost out in a tight battle as Waterford's Michael 'Brick' Walsh got the verdict at left half-back, with Kilkenny's J J Delaney at centre-back.

Six of last year's team are included again -- Curran, Walsh, Fennelly, Power, Mullane and Corbett.

The GAA/GPA Opel football team will be announced at tonight's banquet, when all the individual awards will also be revealed.

Walsh, Fennelly and Maher are shortlisted for Hurler of the Year. Rushe is favourite for Young Hurler of the Year ahead of Limerick's Declan Hannon and Waterford's Pauric Mahony, while Alan Brogan, Darran O'Sullivan and Stephen Cluxton are in line for Footballer of the Year.

Mayo's Cillian O'Connor, Dublin's James McCarthy and Donegal's Mark McHugh are the nominees for Young Footballer of the Year.

Irish Independent

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