Division 1 Group A and B table-toppers Limerick and Clare had been waiting in the semi-finals for two of Galway, Kilkenny, Waterford, and Wexford. All six counties are included in our pick of the best hurlers in 2020 as well as Cork. But for their rotation policy, Limerick, who have yet to drop points, would likely have had more representatives.
Stephen O’Keeffe (Waterford).
The in-form goalkeeper in the country, the Ballygunner man was a key reason in the Déise reaching the knock-out stages. A truly consistent performer.
Joe O’Connor (Wexford).
Not to be found wanting in the physical stakes but has been a prominent player in setting up and finishing attacks too. Looked set for Championship starts.
Conor Prunty (Waterford).
Says plenty about the standing of the man that he was made vice-captain at the age of 22. Stood up and won big contests this spring.
Ciarán Wallace (Kilkenny).
The find of 2020 for Brian Cody although he had been on the fringes for a while. Gave an excellent show in the draw against Clare and performed impressively despite the Cats going down to Wexford.
Barry Nash (Limerick).
John Kiely has been able to alternate his team while maintaining a high standard of performance and when Nash has been involved he’s been delivering.
Paddy Deegan (Kilkenny).
Padraic Walsh and Deegan looked like men emancipated since they were released from the full-back line last season. Deegan is just the type of no-nonsense defender Cody needs to tie his back-line together.
David McInerney (Clare).
Worthy of selection but just misses out on midfield where is now operating and looking the part in his partnership with Tony Kelly. A lot more comfortable than he had been in defence in recent times.
Jamie Barron (Waterford).
Looking like he is close to his outstanding form of three seasons ago, Barron’s speed of thought never mind his speed marks him out as one of the best.
Tony Kelly (Clare).
He’d be picking up his second hurler of the year award was the season not to conclude. It’s when Kelly is man-marked that Clare find it tough but he has had a fine 2020 thus far.
Gearóid Hegarty (Limerick).
That long stride coupled by his frame makes him so difficult to mark and yet he has an ability to ghost in behind defences.
Jack O’Connor (Wexford).
He always offered size around the middle but O’Connor this spring illustrated he is becoming a leader, those three points against Kilkenny being memorable.
Darragh O’Donovan (Limerick).
After a difficult 2019 season where he lost out on his midfield role, the Doon man has been a star performer in the half-forward line. Few work harder.
Shane Kingston (Cork).
Not that Cork had much to shout about but Kingston followed by Robbie O’Flynn was the best performer for Cork in this year’s campaign. Always looked dangerous.
Stephen Bennett (Waterford).
From the opening win over Cork, Bennett looks to have accepted the extra responsibility now placed upon him as a leader of the attack along with Paraic Mahony.
Brian Concannon (Galway).
A couple of quiet games but his finish to Division 1 Group A, scoring freely against Cork and Tipperary, was emphatic.