Hurling and camogie

Profiles: Limerick dominate 2018 Hurling Allstar selection

Cahair O'Kane profiles the 2018 GAA/GPA PWC Hurling Allstars

Limerick midfielder Cian Lynch is the 2018 GAA/GPA PwC Hurler of the Year. Picture by Seamus Loughran

1. Eoin Murphy | Kilkenny
Two Allstars | 2016, 2018
THERE was a late resistance from Nickie Quaid, particularly with his jaw-dropping late semi-final save from Seamus Harnedy, but recency bias can’t cloud Eoin Murphy’s brilliance. When The Sunday Game asked viewers to pick their save of the year, the three options were all provided by Murphy. His performance against Limerick will go down as one of the great goalkeeping displays. Since winning his place ahead of the 2014 All-Ireland final, he’s grown to become irreplaceable.

2. Sean Finn | Limerick
One Allstar | 2018

THE Bruff defender was a go-to man for John Kiely all summer, from shutting down Shane O’Donnell and Stephen Bennett in Munster to keeping TJ Reid to just two points against Kilkenny as he made his mark early on. Finn produced one of the moments of the early part of the championship with a last-ditch block from Seamus Harnedy, whom he contained well, to salvage a critical draw against Cork. He then went on to turn in a fine man-marking display on Conor Whelan in the final, frustrating the man who’d been so lively in the semi-final replay.

3. Daithi Burke | Galway
Four Allstars | 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

IN winning four consecutive Allstars in the full-back line, Burke surpasses the likes of the great Brian Lohan (’95-97) and his own county man Conor Hayes (’86-88). He’s developed into a generational defender, and his greatness at the heart of Galway’s efforts in recent years will always be remembered. Continues to man the centre by doing the simple things well, and his performance against John Conlon in the replay topped the bill. Held his own in the drawn game too and those performances were a large factor in Galway returning to the final.

Daithi Burke picks up his fourth consecutive Allstar. Picture by Seamus Loughran

4. Richie English | Limerick
One Allstar | 2018

RIGHTLY held off his team-mate Mike Casey for the corner-back slot. English’s work may have gone unnoticed at times but his performances were consistently brilliant. He put the lock on several high-end performers, not least one of Galway’s most consistent men, Conor Cooney, in the decider. He’d kept Podge Collins scoreless, even in defeat, and ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer to a single point. Billy Ryan never scored off him either, and while Shane Kingston had a bit more joy, English’s performances across the summer were a model of consistency.

5. Pádraic Mannion | Galway
Two Allstars | 2017, 2018

STEPPED very definitely out of the shadows this summer with a series of superb performances that trailed Galway through their rough patches. Mannion was the championship’s outstanding player in the early weeks as the Tribesmen took Leinster to task, and lifted his form again across the two games against Clare. Particularly stood out in the drawn Leinster final with Kilkenny and the semi-final replay in Thurles, when he operated as the free man to great effect. Mannion has become a central figure for the Tribesmen and was unlucky to miss out on Hurler of the Year.

6. Declan Hannon | Limerick
One Allstar | 2018

HIS outstanding display in the All-Ireland final propelled the Treaty skipper forward as the obvious number six on the Allstar selection. His awareness and positioning to hold the centre were critical to Limerick’s defensive performance, and he hit two superb scores of his own in the first half. Hannon had been similarly effective in the semi-final win over Cork, winning man-of-the-match in some quarters. The Adare man, who turns 26 later this month, he became the sixth man to carry Liam MacCarthy back to Limerick.

Limerick captain Declan Hannon raises the Liam MacCarthy Cup. Picture by Hugh Russell.

7. Dan Morrissey | Limerick
One Allstar | 2018

WHILE many of the Limerick team had come through winning All-Ireland minor and U21 All-Irelands, 25-year-old Morrissey was one of a handful that had missed that window and instead come through barely winning a game. Having bedded in at wing-back last year, he was particularly outstanding throughout Munster and the All-Ireland quarter-final win over Kilkenny. The Ahane clubman was man-of-the-match with his eye-catching display of high fielding against the Cats, and was excellent against Cork too in the semi-final before a solid outing in the decider.

8. Cian Lynch | Limerick | Hurler of the Year
One Allstar | 2018
HIS interminable engine was at the heart of so much of the good for Limerick this summer. His dominance of his battles with Johnny Coen in the All-Ireland final and Bill Cooper in the semi-final were to the forefront in terms of Limerick getting across the line. The Patrickswell man had served notice with fine displays in Munster, most notably against Cork and Waterford. A very deft and elusive player, his displays took him from relative obscurity to being named Hurler of the Year.

9. Darragh Fitzgibbon | Cork
One Allstar | 2018
IT was Fitzgibbon’s ever-energetic display that largely pinned Cork’s performance together in the semi-final, and the injury which forced him off that helped unravel their hopes in extra-time. He’d been a standout all summer up until then, not least when he tormented the eventual champions in their Munster meeting, hitting eight points from play across those two games. He was outstanding in the second half of the Munster final comeback win over Clare as well, having been ill in the lead up to the game and moved to centre-forward where he had a major impact on the turnaround. Also had a fine battle with one of last year’s stars, Jamie Barron, earlier in the campaign.

10. Peter Duggan | Clare
One Allstar | 2018

ONE of the key reasons for Clare’s elongated summer was employing the skilful Peter Duggan as their full-time free-taker. He found his feet in the league and went on to hit 3-76 across the championship, including phenomenal scoring displays against Cork (0-15) and Galway (drawn game, 0-14). It would be harsh if his year was to be remembered for a fluffed line in the replay – it should instead always bring recall of his sensational equalising score late in the first game, when he bustled through and held off three men before firing over from the Cusack Stand side. Netted a brilliant doubled goal in the Munster final too.

11. Joe Canning | Galway
Five Allstars | 2008, 2009, 2012, 2017, 2018

WHILE it seemed natural that one of the greats would be given Hurler of the Year in the season when Galway broke their 29-year wait for an All-Ireland, giving it to Joe Canning then was a decision susceptible to debate at least. Were he to have won it again last night, there could have been absolutely no argument. The Portumna man was better in 2018 than 2017. He had an outstanding summer and his sensational second half display in the final almost pulled the Tribe to complete a remarkable comeback.

12. Seamus Harnedy | Cork
Two Allstars | 2013, 2018

HAVING been handed the captaincy, Harnedy stepped up and led Cork with a series of superb displays, most notably in the big games. If the first half of the Munster final was the John Conlon show, the second period was dominated by Seamus Harnedy as he tormented the Clare defence with a series of brilliant scores. When they found themselves struggling against Limerick it was Harnedy who again dragged them back into the game, despite carrying a hamstring injury that would restrict him later in the game. Finished up with 3-16 from play across a fine summer.

13. Patrick Horgan | Cork
Three Allstars | 2013, 2017, 2018

THE Rebels’ all-time leading scorer added to his championship tally with 1-51 this year, of which 0-12 came from play. It wasn’t just his scoring though. His level of performance was consistently high, as he twice tormented Clare in Munster and was also in savage form when they drew with Limerick midway through the campaign. Carried the fight in that epic All-Ireland semi-final against the same opposition, scoring 1-11 that day. Landed a magnificent long-range free under huge pressure to send the game to extra-time.

Cork's Pa Horgan. Picture by Seamus Loughran

14. John Conlon | Clare
One Allstar | 2018

THROUGH the Munster championship, Conlon was practically unplayable on the edge of the square. Scored heavily from play, hitting 1-19 across the five games there, and his first half display in the decider against Cork ought to have been enough to see Clare to the title but for their second half collapse. Hit four points in the reverse scenario against Galway and the knock he carried into the replay was hugely significant in the end result. Wasn’t just a finisher, and was involved in more scores for his team than any player barring Tipp’s Noel McGrath. Unfortunate to miss out on the shortlist for Hurler of the Year.

15. Graeme Mulcahy | Limerick
One Allstar | 2018

VERY unfortunate to miss out on the shortlist, and perhaps even the trophy, for Hurler of the Year. Mulcahy carried the weight of experience in the Limerick attack and yet it was the tireless example that he set in terms of workrate that set the grounding for his brilliant summer. Outstanding in the All-Ireland series, from tormenting Paul Murphy against Kilkenny through both the semi-final and final. He lived off scraps at times against Cork at times but tackled and fought for everything, and made hay from it. Hit 1-2 in the final. The year of his life.

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