John Fogarty hails the doyens of the last decade in hurling

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John Fogarty: Six Cats make hurling's team of the decade

On the eve of the roaring twenties, John Fogarty hails the doyens of the last decade in hurling

John Fogarty: Six Cats make hurling's team of the decade

On the eve of the roaring twenties, John Fogarty hails the doyens of the last decade in hurling

Eoin Murphy (Kilkenny)

All-Irelands in the 2010s: 2 (2014, ’15).

All-Stars in the 2010s: 2 (2016, ’18).

Turns 30 in 2020 and there is at least another five years in the Kilkenny jersey for a man who has brought goalkeeping to another level in the latter half of the decade.

Without the defences his predecessors had, Murphy’s feats have been so vital to his team’s cause. The best in the business.

Paul Murphy (Kilkenny)

All-Irelands in the 2010s: 4 (2011, ’12, ’14, ’15).

All-Stars in the 2010s: 4 (2011, ’12, ’14, ’15).

Cathal Barrett and Seán Finn may now be the best corner-backs around but for years only Noel Connors could rival the excellence of Murphy. The Danesfort man’s consistency was a thing to marvel during Kilkenny’s glittering period in the early 2010s. Remains a leader for the Cats.

Daithí Burke (Galway)

All-Irelands in the 2010s: 1 (2017).

All-Stars in the 2010s: 4 (2015, ’16, ’17, ’18).

Emulated Dublin’s Paul Flynn in capturing four consecutive All-Stars this decade, Burke has been dominating the edge of the square with his aggression and expert reading of a game. Lost less than a handful of championship duels. His club football achievements only add to his aura.

Noel Connors (Waterford)

All-Irelands in the 2010s: 0

All-Stars in 2010s: 3 (2010, ’15, ’17).

To think he is currently surplus to requirements in Waterford is mind-boggling having just served as captain this past year. The likes of Patrick Horgan, another selection here, and Conor Whelan have been bested by Connors at crucial junctures. A shutdown expert.

Brendan Maher (Tipperary)

All-Irelands in the 2010s: 3 (2010, ’16, ’19).

All-Stars in the 2010s: 3 (2010, ’14, ’19).

To come back like he did this year after a cruciate operation in 2018 said plenty about the man’s character but that was obvious throughout the decade whether it was in midfield or on the half-back line. Truly seems to be getting better with age as evidenced by his Páirc Uí Rinn heroics last month.

Pádraic Maher (Tipperary)

All-Irelands in the 2010s: 3 (2010, ’16, ’19).

All-Stars in the 2010s: 5 (2011, ’14, ’16, ’17, ’19).

Kilkenny always knew a Paudie Maher clearance was worth twice as much as any other and targeted him as a result. For it was to him that Tipperary supporters looked for inspiration and so often he provided it. Will go down as one of his county’s greatest ever.

JJ Delaney (Kilkenny)

All-Irelands in the 2010s: 4 (2011, ’12, ’14, ’15).

All-Stars in the 2010s: 3 (2010, ’12, ’14).

Like Colm Cooper, it can’t be ignored just how impactful Delaney was in the Kilkenny defence this decade when Kilkenny came back with force following the death of their five-in-a-row bid. Whether it was full-back or on the left wing, Delaney was colossal; his transfer of class so vital for Brian Cody.

Michael Fennelly (Kilkenny)

All-Irelands in the 2010s: 4 (2011, ‘12, ‘14, ‘15).

All-Stars in the 2010s: 3 (2010, ‘11, ‘15).

A veritable bulwark of a hurler who, despite suffering some awful injuries towards the end of his career, was still able to get himself right to deliver for Kilkenny. A most deserving hurler of the year in 2011 but his ‘15 season was even more remarkable given his back injury plight.

David Burke (Galway)

All-Irelands in the 2010s: 1 (2017).

All-Stars in the 2010s: 4 (2012, ‘15, ‘16, ‘17).

Tony Kelly and Michael Walsh had strong shouts for selection but then Galway captain Burke consistently produced in attack or midfield where he played most of his hurling this decade that he couldn’t be ignored. A splendid hurler and one of the best long-range shooters.

Noel McGrath (Tipperary)

All-Irelands in the 2010s: 3 (2010, ‘16, ‘19).

All-Stars in the 2010s: 2 (2010, ‘19).

A decade he started as he finished, McGrath overcame a major health scare to help claim his second Celtic Cross and then managed to reinvent himself as a midfielder to add a third this year. From his reverse hand-pass to Lar Corbett in 2010 to lording the middle last August, McGrath has been a presence.

TJ Reid (Kilkenny)

All-Irelands in the 2010s: 4 (2011, ‘12, ‘14, ‘15).

All-Stars in the 2010s: 4 (2012, ‘14, ‘15, ‘19).

Reid had several All-Irelands to his name before he became the sensational hurler he is today. So much of his best hurling has come these past four seasons when Kilkenny have struck a fallow patch. For a man who once considered giving up, he does everything but now.

Joe Canning (Galway)

All-Irelands in the 2010s: 1 (2017).

All-Stars in the 2010s: 3 (2012, ‘17, ‘18).

On the basis of consistency, Reid gets the No. 11 position ahead of Canning but then it might have different but for the latter’s injury this season. The hurler of the year award in 2017 was a rightful honour for an immense career but his hurling the following season was extraordinary.

Richie Hogan (Kilkenny)

All-Irelands in the 2010s: 4 (2011, ‘12, ‘14, ‘15).

All-Stars in the 2010s: 4 (2011, ‘14, ‘15, ‘16).

Like Fennelly, he has been hit so hard by back problems and his 2019 season ended in infamy but the mid 2010s belonged to Hogan. Efficiency and speed of thought have been his calling cards. As Charlie Carter once said of him, he could score from a phone box.

Seamus Callanan (Tipperary)

All-Irelands in the 2010s: 3 (2010, ‘16, ‘19).

All-Stars in the 2010s: 4 (2014, ‘15, ‘16, ‘19).

Nominated four times for hurler of the year, it was about time the Drom-Inch man was honoured by his peers with the top individual award this past season when he found the net in every Championship game. In victory and defeat, Callanan has been a marvel for Tipperary.

Patrick Horgan (Cork)

All-Irelands in the 2010s: 0.

All-Stars in the 2010s: 4 (2013, ‘17, ‘18. ‘19).

As said recently about Horgan, his team-mates need to show the same level of obsession about their game as their newly-appointee captain. A third consecutive All-Star this past season, Horgan experienced a slight lull before those awards but it was obviously temporary. A gem of a hurler.

Hurler of the decade: 1. Seamus Callanan. 2. TJ Reid. 3. Pádraic Maher.

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