Champions Limerick sweep the boards
County’s historic breakthrough is recognised with six first-time awards
All-Ireland champions Limerick equalled the county’s best return with six PwC All Star awards at last night’s presentation banquet in Dublin’s Convention Centre. Defeated finalists Galway received three as did Munster champions Cork. The balance is made up of two Clare and one Kilkenny award.
The PwC All Stars Hurler of the Year award also went to Limerick with Cian Lynch adding to last week’s Gaelic Writers’ Association Hurling Personality of the Year citation.
There was further good news for the county with the naming of Kyle Hayes as Young Hurler of the Year.
Lynch, whose technical ability was harnessed to the optimum by Limerick this year, shone at centrefield and beat Galway pair, Joe Canning (last year’s award winner) and Pádraic Mannion.
The All Star teams are chosen by a panel of journalists whereas the individual awards are voted on by inter-county players under the supervision of the Gaelic Players Association.
This year’s team doesn’t appear to have been much affected by the successful introduction of round-robin championships in the provinces – five counties represented as against four last year – and won’t create much controversy.
Limerick wing forward Tom Morrissey may have a grievance given his performances in so many of the big matches this summer. He scored 0-21 from play plus another four from frees when he took over in an emergency capacity against Cork in the Munster championship after the sending-off of Aaron Gillane as well as a critical point at the end of the defeat of Kilkenny in the All-Ireland quarter-final and a goal in the final.
Then again, Patrick Horgan who would have been the most obvious exclusion had Morrissey – whose brother Dan is included at left wing back – been selected had a marginally higher scoring average from play per match.
After drawing a complete blank in 2017, Kilkenny are back in the All Stars line-up with the county’s exceptional goalkeeper Eoin Murphy winning his second award.
The high point of his season was probably the All-Ireland quarter-final in which he thwarted four clear-cut goal chances for Limerick.
The All Stars team, announced live on RTÉ television, featured nine new award winners – equalling the number of two years ago but short of the 2013 record of 12 newcomers.
Limerick’s defensive excellence was recognised with four of the back six, including both corner backs, Seán Finn and Richie English and in the half backs, captain and centre back Declan Hannon and Dan Morrissey.
The backs were completed by Galway full back, Daithí Burke – whose cousin and All-Ireland club football-winning Corofin team-mate Ian, was also presented with his All Star on the night – and another Galway man Pádraic Mannion.
Burke and Mannion together with last year’s HOTY Joe Canning and Cork’s Patrick Horgan are the only players to have survived from last year’s All Stars.
Cork match Galway’s contingent of three. As well as Horgan, Darragh Fitzgibbon at centrefield and team captain Séamus Harnedy at wing forward are recognised.
The champions’ half dozen includes unusually just one forward, Graeme Mulcahy, who in the eyes of many was unlucky not to be nominated for HOTY after an immense season in which his work rate, consistent scoring and tackle counts were a huge contributory factor in the county’s first All-Ireland since 1973.
The balance of the team is made up by Clare forwards, on the right wing Peter Duggan and at full forward John Conlon.