And then there were two — but how many of the Kilkenny and Tipperary teams are in the driving seat for All-Stars? John Fogarty makes his shouts.
Only for the Lorrha-Dorrha man, Limerick would have embarrassed Tipperary in the Munster final. A coming of age season for the 23-year-old whose long puck-out in particular has been impressive. Made fine saves against Limerick the first day, Cork and Wexford.
NOMINEES: Eoin Murphy (Kilkenny), Enda Rowland (Laois)
His latest performance was possibly his worst and he wasn’t all that bad either. Going back to the League the Bruff defender performed solid at full-back to a Munster championship when he was his team’s best back, Finn has looked the part.
Elevated into the 15 after a split-decision with Aaron Gillane at the weekend. Like against Cork, Seamus Harnedy had the better of the early clashes but Lawlor’s presence grew as the game did. A handsome Leinster SHC campaign behind him too.
Austin Gleeson, Tony Kelly, and Gillane, two hurlers of the year and likely a future one, have been subdued by Maher, who hasn’t shown any ill effect from the cruciate operation he had only 12 months ago. In the form of his life.
He may have ended up off the field for a second yellow card last month but O’Hanlon’s detailing of TJ Reid was so vital to Wexford taking something from that game and reaching the Leinster final. Excellent on Jason Forde last Sunday too.
Like JJ Delaney, his versatility has seen him play in all sorts of roles but with things steadier now in the full-back line Walsh is thriving in this central role. A little shaky in the Leinster final, he has bounced back with remarkable games against Cork and Limerick.
How he emerged from the Tipperary defence with the ball would inspire anyone. When they needed defiance, he personified it but he has been delivering from the outset of the Munster SHC, second only to Brendan as his side’s most in-form defender.
NOMINEES: Cathal Barrett (Tipperary), Diarmaid Byrnes (Limerick), Mike Casey (Limerick), Chris Crummey (Dublin), Paddy Deegan (Kilkenny), Richie English (Limerick), Conor Fogarty (Kilkenny), Paudie Foley (Wexford), Joey Holden (Kilkenny), Pádraic Maher (Tipperary), Shaun Murphy (Wexford), Liam Ryan (Wexford).
Taken off early in the Munster final but that is the only blot in an otherwise pristine notebook for the Loughmore-Castleiney man. Any doubts that a lack of pace might count against him in the middle have been answered. One of hurling’s most intelligent players.
Has covered more grass than most this summer and the PwC hurler of the month award for June was a deserving one for an athlete who leaves it all out there. Delivered when it was needed in the Leinster SHC.
NOMINEES: Cian Lynch (Limerick), Cathal Mannion (Galway), William O’Donoghue (Limerick), Liam Óg McGovern (Wexford).
Proved in the Leinster final that he really can perform outside Wexford and Nowlan Park. He was a lightning rod for Davy Fitzgerald’s team that day but his excellent free execution and ball-winning ability were evident in the round-robin stages too.
Proof if it was needed that you don’t need to score all that much from play to be influential. Draws defenders like moths to a light but is so comfortable in being able to swat them away to set up his teammates.
Carried on where he left off with Ballyhale Shamrocks earlier this year and we reason he might just be the Cats’ second most important forward now. Mullen is such a precocious talent he had to be included.
Could be edged out by the time the awards are decided — he left his run too late for one last year — but his SHC tally of 3-50 will be difficult to ignore not to mention his League final performance when he was unmarkable.
The Tipperary captain’s goal return is up there with Dan Shanahan’s of 12 years ago when he went on to win the hurler of the year award. But it’s not just the goals: Callanan has led by example and shown he doesn’t need frees to stabilise him.
The competitor the Glen Rovers man is, he would probably be irritated by the sympathy shown to him in the wake of scoring 3-10 in going down to Kilkenny. His 4-42 total across four games in Munster tells more of his prowess in front of the sticks.
NOMINEES: Alan Cadogan (Cork), Peter Casey (Limerick), Colin Fennelly (Kilkenny), Jason Forde (Tipperary), Kyle Hayes (Limerick), Gearóid Hegarty (Limerick), Conal Keaney (Dublin), Conor McDonald (Wexford), Paul Morris (Wexford), Graeme Mulcahy (Limerick), Rory O’Connor (Wexford), John O’Dwyer (Tipperary).