The Irish Mail on Sunday
HOT SHOTS READY TO FIRE
1 CONOR McGRATH (Clare)
THE in-form player in the country, McGrath’s hat-trick of goals against Tipperary early in the League was a little reminder of what the Cratloe livewire is capable of. He scored 3-15 from play during the League, keen to build on last September when his solo effort in the AllIreland final replay will linger long in the memory banks. A superb finisher, McGrath can only get better.
2 DANNY SUTCLIFFE (Dublin)
IT’S a sign of how far Sutcliffe has come in a short space of time that his recent fractured hand on club duty has caused concern within Dublin, ahead of the defence of their Leinster crown. When Anthony Daly needed calm heads in the relegation play-off against Waterford, Sutcliffe took ownership with two superb goals.
3 JOE CANNING (Galway)
THERE’S still no show quite like a Joe show, but he needs a supporting cast for Galway to realise their potential while he’s at his peak. Until the Tribesmen win an All-Ireland, the debate over where Canning’s (left) gifts can be best utilised will rage. He was further out the field when Portumna claimed the recent All-Ireland club title. With teams deploying sweepers in front of him, games can occasionally pass Canning by in the full-forward line.
4 PATRICK HORGAN (Cork)
FOLLOWING a spate of retirements, Cork hurling was in dire need of leadership last season. Horgan stepped forward and became the focal point. His dismissal in the Munster final changed the complexion of that game, but Cork had good reason to get the red card rescinded. Horgan’s accuracy kept them in the drawn All-Ireland final and his tally of 3-51 this spring was key in their return to Division 1A.
5 PODGE COLLINS (Clare)
ANOTHER young star that blossomed as Clare found a path to last year’s All-Ireland final, coming of age with four points from play against Galway in Thurles. Balance, speed and agility are all part of his weaponry and he can be depended upon to take a score, when needed. There will be inevitable questions over second season syndrome, but Collins looks equipped to provide answers.