Clare majority in team of All-Ireland All Stars

If past form is a guide, a cherished All Star award is still within reach for many of the men taking part in the All-Ireland final replay

Clare majority in team of All-Ireland All Stars

If finals decide All Stars then just how influential are two? All but four of last year’s team came from Kilkenny or Galway who went at it twice to decide the All-Ireland final.

However, there is a strong argument there will be more of this season’s finalists comprising 2013’s honoured 15.

Dublin’s Liam Rushe looks a cert for centre-back, Kilkenny defender Paul Murphy may be considered although the paucity of quality in Limerick’s semi-final defeat could cost them dearly.

As Clare and Cork meet for the sixth time this season, we run the rule on just how many would make a side comprising the best of both teams.

Like any All Stars process, some wiggle room is afforded in moving top-performing players into different positions along the same line.

Anthony Nash (Cork)

He was in the driving seat for his second successive All Star prior to the first final after some brilliant performances against Clare and Dublin. He remains there after another unyielding display.

Shane O’Neill (Cork)

Forgetting he has been fortunate not to be sent off in two championship games, O’Neill has been excellent in cancelling out the best

performers. Like Kearney, he was a class apart against Kilkenny.

David McInerney (Clare)

The best full-back on show this year, echoing plenty of the coolness and comfort under high ball that Brian Lohan showed in his pomp. Between U21 and senior championship games, he has four man-of-the-match awards.

Conor O’Sullivan (Cork)

Made a terrific goal-bound block on Colin Ryan earlier this month and although he had his hands full with Conor McGrath he has provided a consistency over the championship that only few can match. Reads and covers the action so well.

Brendan Bugler (Clare)

If Conor Ryan was unassailable in the aerial battle the last day, Bugler was the next best to him. He’s well on his way to a second consecutive All Star after an impressive summer going back to the Munster quarter-final win over Waterford.

William Egan (Cork)

While the form of other Cork half-backs — Tom Kenny, Christopher Joyce and Brian Murphy — has fluctuated, Egan has maintained a solid

performance level, starring in the wins over Clare and Dublin.

Conor Ryan (Clare)

A thoroughly deserved man of the match award on September 8. He demonstrated the sense of leadership that usually wins All-Ireland finals. Previously, he went about his business quietly but with no shortage of effect.

Colm Galvin (Clare)

A really tidy hurler who didn’t hit the same pitch against Cork he was playing at for the majority of this championship. Industrious and eager, he pips Lorcan McLoughlin.

Daniel Kearney (Cork)

His craft and guile were huge components in the victories over Clare and Kilkenny this summer. Popped over a couple of points three weeks ago, although he wasn’t on the ball as much as he has been in previous games.

Seamus Harnedy (Cork)

By now, we can all agree he has been the find for Cork this season, the epitome of the mushrooms theory and the county’s senior hurling team. Conor Ryan may have beaten him a lot in the air but Harnedy was one of his side’s best performers.

Tony Kelly (Clare)

So good that Cork drafted in Brian Murphy at the expense of Tom Kenny to mark him. Kelly has been spoken of in high esteem for a number of years. This season, we well and truly know what the fuss is all about.

Colin Ryan (Clare)

Of the two teams’ free-takers, Pat Horgan has been offering more in open play, but the composure Ryan has shown from dead-ball situations not to mention his clever link-ups has been integral to Clare reaching this stage. Conor Lehane would have claims for inclusion but Ryan’s are stronger.

Pádraig Collins (Clare)

Along with McInerney and Kelly, Collins is in the running for Young Hurler of the Year and, depending on tomorrow, could also claim the bigger individual prize. His second-half point the last day will be up there as the best seen this year.

Pat Horgan (Cork)

How he has bounced back from the since rescinded sending off against Limerick in the Munster final has been a testament to Horgan’s strength of character. The way he executed what looked to be Cork’s winning score earlier this month was wondrous.

Conor McGrath (Clare)

The tightest call of the 15 as at different stages of the competition Luke O’Farrell and Jamie Coughlan have been notable. McGrath’s role is different this year to what it used to be but he tormented Cork with his direct running. For a player in a more selfless role, 2-9 isn’t a bad return.

Total: Clare 8, Cork 7

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