All-Ireland champions Clare make up over half of the 2013 GAA-GPA All Star team sponsored by Opel with eight selections compared to runners-up Cork’s three.
Dead certs Anthony Nash, Seamus Harnedy and Patrick Horgan make the best 15 of the year, but there is no place for Shane O’Neill or Daniel Kearney who had strong arguments for inclusion.
Clare supporters may judge championship top scorer Colin Ryan was unlucky to miss out on an award, the same as Kilkenny fans in regards to corner back Paul Murphy.
However, Clare’s haul of eight is a handsome collection for any All-Ireland champions and it’s equally proportioned with three in both the back and forward lines with the two midfield slots also going their way.
U21 hurler of the year David McInerney takes his place in the full-back line alongside Dublin’s Peter Kelly and Limerick full-back Richie McCarthy, while Brendan Bugler and captain Patrick Donnellan flank Dublin’s Liam Rushe, who wins his second All Star in three years.
In midfield, Conor Ryan, who could have easily swapped positions with Donnellan, is chosen for his excellent Croke Park performances alongside his solid team-mate Colm Galvin.
Tony Kelly was never in any doubt of missing out of inclusion in the half-forward line where Harnedy was also a rightful choice and Dublin’s excellent U21 star Danny Sutcliffe.
Horgan has a Clareman either side of him in the full-forward line, Podge Collins and Conor McGrath no-brain picks. In what is possibly the youngest All Stars teams ever with 12 of the team 25 or under (average age 23.3), Nash at 29 is the oldest member with Kelly the youngest at 19.
Clare’s total of eight award winners emulates their 1995 total when Ger Loughnane led them to their first Liam MacCarthy Cup since 1914 and is two better than their half a dozen in ’97.
Their representation matches Kilkenny’s octet of two years ago and is only one shy of the record of nine achieved by Brian Cody’s Cats in 2000 and ’08.
All-Ireland and Munster finalists Cork have to make do with three awards — the worst return from runners-up since Waterford five years ago.
There are an incredible 12 first time winners, the other three being Cork goalkeeper Nash and Clare right half back Brendan Bugler, who each win their second successive awards and Liam Rushe who repeats his 2011 acknowledgement.
Interestingly, among the 12 are five U21s — the Clare quartet of McInerney, Galvin, Kelly, Collins and Dublin’s Sutcliffe.
In winning three, Dublin have beaten their previous best return earned in 2011 when Rushe at midfield and Gary Maguire picked up gongs.
McCarthy in the full-back line is the sole representative of Munster champions Limerick, one better than last year’s provincial winners Tipperary.
After picking up seven nominations, it’s a disappointing ratio but one reflected by their very disappointing All-Ireland semi-final defeat at the hands of Clare.
In all, four counties comprise the 15 — the four All-Ireland semi-finalists. It also marks the first time since 1996 that Kilkenny haven’t pick up an All Star.
Nash, Kelly and Collins are the nominees for the player of the year, which will be announced at the awards ceremony in Croke Park tomorrow night.
Kelly and Collins are also up for the young player of the year accolade along with their Clare colleague McInerney.
Inter-county hurlers will select the award winners from the nominees chosen by journalists.
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