The clean sweep should have brought Galway another All-Star gong

Halloween is about the odd fright and this All-Star selection has a nice few talking points.
The clean sweep should have brought Galway another All-Star gong

Should Galway have got at least one more? They managed seven but eight wouldn’t have seemed outrageous.

Galway won the league, Leinster, the All-Ireland. If you do that, the clean sweep, you’re probably worth at least eight All-Stars.

Adrian Tuohy is unlucky not to make corner-back. You saw a bit of jiggling around in defence, which pushed him out.

Pádraic Mannion was picked in the corner, where he did no hurling. Paudie Maher was shoved over to right half-back, where he didn’t feature except for a spell on Peter Duggan, when Clare started coming back at Tipperary in the All-Ireland quarter-final. The jiggling facilitated Mark Coleman at wing-back.

Cork were probably always going to get two for winning Munster in such style. Hoggy [Patrick Horgan] was more or less nailed on at corner-forward. I thought Anthony Nash maybe did enough to squeak in on goal ahead of Stephen O’Keeffe.

There’s a sense, with the politics of it, Coleman got Nash’s All-Star. I know the selectors have instructions to just pick the six best backs, regardless, but I’d have gone for Nash, kept all the backs in their normal position, and put in Tuohy.

You see, who did better against Waterford in the All-Ireland semi-final, Nash or Coleman? To me, Nash did well before gaps opened up after the sending-off, while Brick Walsh did damage on Coleman from the start. But Mark is a serious talent, a young man who will win All-Stars galore.

This year reminds me of 2014 a bit. Kilkenny won everything that year, another clean sweep, and yet got six All-Stars to Tipperary’s seven. Tipp played great in spots but actually won nothing the same year.

I was at that All-Star banquet, and ran into Brian and Elsie Cody. I said to Brian: “Were ye not a bit hard done by, Tipp getting more?” Brian just smiled…

The new championship structure might mean All-Stars are picked in a different way. Next year, there will be more games to consider, because of the new structure. So we might see more counties on the selection, if the extra games are genuinely taken into account.

I think the All-Stars, over the last while, are really about the All-Ireland semi-finals and final. Is this the right emphasis? I’m not too sure.

Lee Chin and Conor Lehane both looked a shoo-in for an All-Star at one point. But Wexford didn’t really put it up to either Galway in the Leinster final or to Waterford in the All-Ireland quarter-final, which kind of ruled out Chin.

Diarmuid O’Keeffe at wing back, just for his sheer defiance, probably was Wexford’s best shot. Lehane’s chance went with Cork losing to Waterford. Making the final is so important where All-Stars are concerned, whether we like it or not.

I don’t think there’ll be much giving out about the forwards picked. Really, they chose the six best candidates. Joseph Cooney might be a bit disappointed. But who would you drop to put him in?

You could argue that David Burke wasn’t All-Star material at midfield until his display for Galway in the final. But there is massive weight on a player coming up with the goods when it most counts.

As I said, I would like to see the season as a whole considered. But Burke was magnificent both as captain and as a midfielder when Galway came under serious pressure. He drove it on.

Imagine if someone had said to you before the All-Ireland final that Waterford would get 2-2 off two soft goals and two handy frees from a pick-up and three catches. An eight-point start… Where would your €50 on the winner have gone if you’d known this stuff beforehand?

That’s how important Burke’s performance was on the day, and it made him definite All-Star material. No question at all about Jamie Barron as his partner.

Looking back, Galway were that bit vulnerable to mistakes. I wonder would facing Cork jerseys have made a difference to the result. They were jittery enough, even with absolutely no All-Ireland history between themselves and Waterford.

Anyway, Galway got over the line, and seven awards is definitely not generous when a team swept all the silverware. But I’d still like today’s players to be able to get one without making an All Ireland semi-final, as was the case back in my own playing days.

John Leahy got one in 1994 when he gave a brilliant performance for Tipperary against Galway in the league final, even though he got injured playing football for Tipp (against Clare!) and didn’t feature in the championship. I was something of the same case in ’94. Got an All-Star based at least partly on league performances, because Clare ended up hammered by Limerick in the Munster final.

Johnny and myself often debated the merits of those awards on the field afterwards! There’s nothing like the All-Stars for hopping a ball, and that’s exactly the same today. Hurlers really want an All-Star. There is savage prestige to it.

I hope next year’s new arrangements might make the awards even more prominent. It could happen, if more players feel they have a chance.

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