Revealed: 2017 PwC GAA/GPA Hurling Allstars
1. Stephen O’Keeffe
Waterford / Ballygunner
THE first call was always going to be one of the tightest of them all and it is Waterford stopper Stephen O’Keeffe who has won out ahead of Cork’s Anthony Nash, becoming the first ever goalkeeper from the county to win an Allstar award. Both had outstanding seasons but the Ballygunner man picks up his first award on the basis of his four clean sheets and consistency in puckouts. While Nash caught the eye at times, O’Keeffe was the more accurate in their All-Ireland semi-final meeting, and his reliability throughout the year was a key factor.
2. Padraig Mannion
Galway / Ath Eascrach Fothaine
ALTHOUGH he is named at corner-back on the team, it was partly the fact that he didn’t play much there this summer that has led to his selection. Moved out to the wing and given a bit more freedom, he repaid Micheál Donoghue with an impressive summer. Made a couple of eye-catching fetches in the Leinster final win over Wexford, which was arguably his best performance. Was one of their star defensive turns in a big effort to keep out the Tipperary attack, particularly in the second half. Also came good in the final after a sticky first half.
3. Daithi Burke
Galway / Turloughmore
Third Allstar (2015, 2016)
ONE of the two boulders that makes up the heart of the Galway defence, Burke picks up his third consecutive Allstar, and there was never any doubt about it this time either. Renewed acquaintances with Seamus Callanan in the semi-final and while ironically he didn’t quite have the same mastery as last August when Galway were beaten, it was still a fulsome display that did enough to stifle one of the best forwards of a generation. Had been utterly dominant in the Leinster final, keeping Jack Guiney scoreless, and he was comfortable against Jake Dillon in the showpiece.
4. Noel Connors
Waterford / Passage
Third Allstar (2010, 2015)
CONNORS’ traditional brand of man-marking sees him complete the full-back line for this third Allstar gong. Beyond two early points he kept the tightest of reins on Alan Cadogan in the semi-final, restricting him to just one more possession in the entire game. Backed it up in the final by taking the blistering Conor Whelan to task, keeping him to a single point and a very minor role in proceedings. Despite perhaps more eye-catching performances from Conor Gleeson and Tadhg de Búrca at times, Connors’ solidity is an irreplaceable asset in the Waterford defence.
5. Pádraic Maher
Tipperary / Thurles Sarsfields
Fifth Allstar (2009, 2011, 2014, 2016)
FOR most of the summer the Tipperary defence was displaying cracks that Pádraic Maher seemed to be doing his best to close up single-handedly. His brand of high-catching, hard-hitting artistry was on show throughout and he produced a number of key moments, including a magnificent catch at a crucial stage against Clare that helped ease a growing nervousness. Colossal against Galway, they couldn’t seem to find a way past him. The Thurles man’s inclusion makes him the most decorated player on this year’s Allstar team as he picks up a fifth Allstar, and a third in four years.
6. Gearoid McInerney
Galway / Oranmore-Maree
IT’S still a mystery how he didn’t find himself on the shortlist for Hurler of the Year given the nature of his performances throughout the summer, but no doubt he’ll be content to pick up a first Allstar. A man-mountain at the heart of the Galway defence, his solidity was a key thread in their run to a first All-Ireland since 1988. Particularly outstanding against Tipperary, where he went back and almost doubled up with Burke behind him in repelling the Premier assault on their goal in the second half. Shut Waterford prodigy Austin Gleeson completely out of the final.
7. Mark Coleman
Cork / Blarney
THE undoubted young star of the championship, the Cork wing-back exploded on to the scene with a series of superb performances in his county’s run to the Munster title. Came straight in for the game against Tipperary and hurled up a storm with a fine aerial show and a number of pressure-relieving clearances. Backed it up with a man-of-the-match display against Waterford in the provincial semi-final, when he had a particularly big influence on the first half, and in the second half of the decider against Clare. Ability to strike a line cut pleases the eye but there is a much greater depth to his game.
8. Jamie Barron
Waterford / Fourmilewater
Second Allstar (2016)
JOE Canning may yet pick up the Hurler of the Year award but if that happens, then it will have been an exceedingly tight race with Jamie Barron. The Waterford man’s boundless energy from midfield made him the standout player in this year’s Championship. Even in the Munster defeat by Cork he excelled. His late breakaway goal against Kilkenny was fitting reward for a magnificent display all night, particularly in extra-time, where he hit 1-2. Netted twice in the semi-final win over Cork, and had an influence on the final despite illness in the week running up to it.
9. David Burke
Galway / St Thomas’
Fourth Allstar (2012, 2015, 2016)
THE Galway skipper saved the best very much for last with an unforgettable man-of-the-match display in the All-Ireland final. Hit four points from play and had a massive influence throughout, and he capped it off with one of the all-time great acceptance speeches from the steps of the Hogan Stand. Kept a relatively tight leash on Lee Chin in the Leinster final, restricting Wexford’s talisman to a single point from play. Had been an important cog in a more advanced position against Dublin, and picks up his fourth award.
10. Kevin Moran
Waterford / De La Salle
Second Allstar (2012)
IT would be a stretch to call it a resurgence given that Moran just turned 30 in the spring of the year, but the form of the Déise captain this summer was a huge inspiration for their run. Hit 1-3 in the quarter-final against Wexford but his standout day came in the All-Ireland semi-final against Cork, when he used all his craft and experience to run the game from midfield, hitting three long-range first-half scores and adding another after the break. Brilliant goal in the final, timing his run to perfection, and his performance that afternoon was one of the real positives for Waterford.
11. Joe Canning
Galway / Portumna
Fourth Allstar (2008, 2009, 2012)
IN terms of key contributions to Galway’s season, Canning absolutely earns his place in the half-forward line. His winner against Tipperary was one of the sporting moments of the year, separating the two in another colossal battle with a superb shot from the sideline. Had no room to manoeuvre but nailed it to cap a brilliant second half on a day that he finished with 0-11. Good up until the Leinster final, he carried an injury into that and was quiet. Came away from the final with a 0-9 haul, including one of his magnificent trademark sideline cuts. Hard to believe it’s his first Allstar since 2012.
12. Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh
Waterford / Stradbally
Fourth Allstar (2007, 2009, 2010)
THE All-Ireland final was his 70th championship appearance for Waterford and yet he had spent much of the summer playing with the effervescence and spring of a man with a tenth of those numbers. His most notable contribution came in the All-Ireland semi-final, when a mixture of intelligence and sheer power overwhelmed the previously untouchable Mark Coleman. He hit the net that afternoon and was also one of the goalscorers in the historic win over Kilkenny. A fourth Allstar for the gutsy Stradbally veteran.
13. Conor Whelan
Galway / Kinvara
DESPITE the fact that he won’t appear in the record books as a scorer in the Leinster final, the youngster’s display that day told you all you needed to know. Won ball and won frees in a selfless role that aided their second piece of silverware. Then stepped it up big time against Tipperary, the brilliance of his performance underlined by the fact that Michael Cahill didn’t have all that bad a game, but just couldn’t live with him as the then 20-year-old (now 21) took him for four points. A quieter final but did enough, and remains the favourite to be named Young Hurler of the Year.
14. Conor Cooney
Galway / St Thomas’
SO, so good in the Leinster final. He caught everything that came his way that afternoon and absolutely terrorised the Wexford full-back line, hitting eight points, seven of them from play, in arguably the best individual display of the whole year. Had been very good against Dublin as well but his sheer brilliance against Wexford perhaps masked two further displays that were quite good in their own right. Hit two points in the semi-final against Tipperary and a further three in the final, in which he started superbly.
15. Patrick Horgan
Cork / Glen Rovers
Second Allstar (2013)
BECAME Cork’s all-time top scorer when his Munster final haul of 0-13 saw him surpass the legendary Christy Ring at the age of 29. His brilliance was one of the key factors in the Rebels’ resurgence that saw them claim an unexpected Munster title and push Waterford for an hour in the All-Ireland semi-final. Hit 0-12 in that game, five of them from play, as at times he threatened to drive them to national glory all on his own. Finished the summer with 0-39 in total and playing the best hurling of his sparkling career.