Every October 13, individuals sit down to pick the All Star hurling team. There are simply too many opinions involved, too many voices.
It is hard enough to pick a junior club team when more than three voices are providing input, so you can only imagine all the opinions flying about when you have over a dozen critics sitting around the table poring over this team.
I feel it is right to put on record that I have never been part of an All Star selection committee.
Last year, not one hurler from outside the four counties that contested the semi-finals was honoured. It will be the same again tonight. The system of how the All Stars are selected requires radical surgery. The All Stars cannot continue to be elitist. Just because a hurler plays in Croke Park in August, it should not automatically parachute him ahead of a hurler whose championship involvement ended in July.
Why not introduce a points system where each hurler is marked out of 10 for every Championship game they play? At the end of the season, tot up each hurler’s total and there you have your All Star team.
Moreover, is it right the All Star team is solely based on Championship endeavours? Is it fair league displays are cast aside when the team is decided upon?
If the selection committee see fit to continue to ignore league efforts, then at least introduce an All Star league team.
Here are the men I believe should be called to the stage tonight.
1. Eoin Murphy (Kilkenny): The best goalkeeper in 2014, and Cody reaffirmed this view when returning Murphy between the sticks for the final replay. Tipperary’s Darren Gleeson lacked the consistency and assuredness of his Kilkenny counterpart.
2. Paul Murphy (Kilkenny): This man was the best, and most effective when Kilkenny were on the back foot.
3. JJ Delaney (Kilkenny): The greatest defender of the modern era.
4. Seamus Hickey (Limerick): Aside from the slip up which led to Cork’s second goal in the Munster final, point to one other mistake Hickey made in 2014. He didn’t.
5. Brendan Maher (Tipperary): An excellent captain, an excellent leader. Rarely faltered.
6. Pádraic Maher (Tipperary): Possesses all the attributes of a top hurler. Showed them throughout the campaign.
7. Cillian Buckley (Kilkenny): Came of age during the Cats’ successful league and Championship campaigns. Padraig Walsh’s omission harsh, but justified.
8. Richie Hogan (Kilkenny): The reason Kilkenny returned to hurling’s summit. Performed when others didn’t.
9. James Ryan (Limerick): A work horse, never gave anything but his all. Edges out Kilkenny’s Conor Fogarty.
10. Conor Lehane (Cork): Consistent in Munster and carried that form to Croke Park. A joy to watch, excited the crowd summer long.
11. TJ Reid (Kilkenny): Has successfully taken over the mantle from Shefflin as Kilkenny’s go-to man.
12. John O’Dwyer (Tipperary): Bubbled from the first round of the league to the final weekend of September. Patrick ‘Bonnar’ Maher’s absence is contentious, but his contribution on the scoreboard wasn’t up to scratch.
13. Colin Fennelly (Kilkenny): Most effective for Cody’s team when moved inside. When Kilkenny needed scores, this man came up trumps.
14. Seamus Callanan (Tipperary): Another hurler to come of age. Has finally matured and Tipperary are the better for it.
15. Shane Dowling (Limerick): Still needs to sort out his fitness, his armour is otherwise flawless for such a young man. Richie Hogan will pick up the hurler of the year gong and Limerick’s Dowling to be crowned young hurler of the year.