After ending 45 years without an All-Ireland SHC title, Limerick have become the second team this decade to claim 15 PwC All-Star nominations, replicating Tipperary’s collection of two seasons ago when they too won the Liam MacCarthy Cup.
Shane Dowling, who made such vital impressions from the bench in the All-Ireland semi-final and final, was almost a 16th but the county’s handsome haul is reflective of an extraordinary championship in which they played eight matches, losing one.
The Limerick team that commenced last month’s All-Ireland final victory over Galway comprises a third of the list, from Nickie Quaid in goal to Aaron Gillane, Seamus Flanagan and Graeme Mulcahy in the full-forward line. Although Mulcahy had a major shout for inclusion in the Hurler of the Year reckoning, Cian Lynch is the Treaty’s sole candidate alongside the Galway pair of Joe Canning, who holds the award from 2017, and Pádraic Mannion.
Considering they had no representatives on the 45-man selection last year, Limerick’s turnaround is all the more considerable. Captain Declan Hannon (2011, ‘14), Mulcahy (‘13), Nickie Quaid (‘12) and Diarmaid Byrnes (‘16) are their only repeat All Star nominations.
Munster champions Cork claim seven of the nomination spots as well as two of the three Young Hurler of the Year candidates in Darragh Fitzgibbon and Mark Coleman, who were so prominent for the seniors as well as the U21s this summer. It’s Coleman’s second successive nomination. Limerick’s Kyle Hayes will battle it out with the Cork duo.
Seán O’Donoghue, Christopher Joyce, and Bill Cooper are unfortunate to miss out for Cork in the 45 but the Rebels also have Anthony Nash, Colm Spillane, Seamus Harnedy, Patrick Horgan, and Daniel Kearney in contention. Nash, Coleman, Spillane, Fitzgibbon and Lehane were among the elite group in 2017.
Fellow beaten All-Ireland semi-finalists Clare pick up five nominations — David McInerney, Colm Galvin, Peter Duggan, John Conlon, and Shane O’Donnell — with Duggan and Conlon in line for All-Stars and Conlon going close to making the shortlist for Hurler of the Year.
Among Galway’s nine are seven nominees from their All-Ireland winning season of 2017 — Daithí Burke, Pádraic Mannion, Adrian Tuohey, Aidan Harte, David Burke, Canning and Conor Whelan. Daithí Burke will be hoping to claim his fourth consecutive All-Star on November 2.
Despite going out at the All-Ireland quarter-final stage, Kilkenny are acknowledged with the same number of nominees as the Banner. Eoin Murphy was exquisite in goal and he is joined by team-mates Pádraig Walsh, Cillian Buckley, James Maher, and TJ Reid. Fellow last-six team Wexford have two candidates for All-Stars in defenders Paudie Foley and Liam Ryan, with Rory O’Connor unlucky not to be among the list.
For his exploits in the league where Tipperary reached the Division 1 final and being the county’s stand-out player in their ill-fated Munster campaign, Jason Forde is a deserving selection. Dublin captain Chris Crummey is too after a couple of sterling displays for the county in a Leinster campaign where they ran Galway, Kilkenny, and Wexford close.
It is the first time since 2011 that Waterford have not had a nomination.
The 2018 All-Star hurling team will be announced on the evening of the awards gala in the National Convention Centre on November 2 along with the Hurler and Young Hurler of the Year. Which of Canning, Lynch, and Mannion claims the top accolade will be decided by inter-county hurlers. They will be asked to rank the three in their order of preference as well as the Young Hurler candidates Coleman, Fitzgibbon, and Hayes.
All-Star hurling nominations
GOALKEEPERS: Anthony Nash (Cork), Eoin Murphy (Kilkenny), Nickie Quaid (Limerick).
DEFENDERS: David McInerney (Clare); Mark Coleman, Colm Spillane (both Cork); Chris Crummey (Dublin); Daithí Burke, Pádraic Mannion, Aidan Harte, Adrian Tuohey (all Galway); Cillian Buckley, Pádraig Walsh (both Kilkenny); Diarmaid Byrnes, Mike Casey, Richie English, Seán Finn, Declan Hannon, Dan Morrissey (all Limerick); Paudie Foley, Liam Ryan (Wexford).
MIDFIELDERS: Colm Galvin (Clare); Darragh Fitzgibbon (Cork); David Burke (Galway); James Maher (Kilkenny), Cian Lynch, Darragh O’Donovan (both Limerick).
FORWARDS: John Conlon, Peter Duggan, Shane O’Donnell (all Clare); Joe Canning, Jonathan Glynn, Pádraic Mannion, Conor Whelan (all Galway); Seamus Harnedy, Patrick Horgan, Daniel Kearney (all Cork); TJ Reid (Kilkenny); Seamus Flanagan, Aaron Gillane, Kyle Hayes, Gearóid Hegarty, Tom Morrissey, Graeme Mulcahy (all Limerick); Jason Forde (Tipperary).
Hurler of the Year: Joe Canning (Galway), Cian Lynch (Limerick), Pádraic Mannion (Galway).
Young Hurler of the Year (U21): Mark Coleman, Darragh Fitzgibbon (both Cork); Kyle Hayes (Limerick).
Breakdown (8 counties): Limerick 15; Galway 9; Cork 7; Clare 5; Kilkenny 5; Wexford 2; Dublin, Tipperary 1.