THE nominations for the GPA Hurling team of the year have been announced with all those involved last weekend in the Vodafone All-Stars in the equation again.
While the shortlist for the GPA team is drawn up by a panel of hurling experts, the final decision as to who wins the ultimate award is decided on by the players, who will be polled through their own organisation, the Gaelic Players Association.
Those nominated for the player-of-the-year are Vodafone winner Lar Corbett, Brendan Maher and Kilkenny’s Michael Fennelly, with Kilkenny wing-back tyro Tommy Walsh also in the picture.
The nominations format for the GPA team-of-the-year differs somewhat from the Vodafone version in that where the latter simply name nine players for each line, and six for the two midfield positions, the GPA sticks rigidly to the individual positions, three for each.
In a year in which there was fairly broad consensus on the outstanding performers, only a few differences exist between both sets of nominations.
In the GPA version, Dublin goalkeeper Gary Maguire replaces Waterford’s Clinton Hennessey, while in the full-back line, Cork’s Brian Murphy and Eoin Cadogan replace their own county men, Shane O’Neill and Tipperary’s Michael Cahill.
In the half-back line there’s just one change— the GPA selectors going with Waterford’s Declan Prendergast at left-half-back, Cork’s John Gardiner – a right-half-back — out of the running here. In midfield, Ger Farragher – brilliant through a winning league campaign for Galway – is a surprise omission, Offaly’s Rory Hanniffy getting the nod in the only departure from the Vodafone nominations.
Up front, and in another departure, Antrim’s Neil McManus is preferred by the GPA at centre-forward to Tipperary’s towering youngster, Patrick Maher, another call that’s sure to generate some criticism in the Premier county. Maher was one of those called up by Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy after the debacle against Cork in the first round in Munster, when they lost by ten points, and the Lorrha-man was a revelation thereafter, a superb ball-winner where and when it mattered most. Up front, Darach Honan (Clare) and Alan McCrabbe (Dublin), are in, Patrick Horgan (Cork) and Aidan Fogarty (Kilkenny) the ones to lose out from the Vodafone nominees.
Overall, and given that it was on a position by position basis, very few surprises, Tipperary’s All-Ireland win reflected in their 12 nominations (defenders Conor O’Mahony and Michael Cahill, and forward Patrick Maher, the only ones to lose out). Defeated All-Ireland finalists Kilkenny are next in line with ten nominations, Munster champions Waterford are next with six, Cork have five, the same number as league champions Galway, Dublin, Offaly and Antrim have two each, Clare with just the one, the precociously talented Darach Honan.
Lar Corbett (Tipperary), Michael Fennelly (Kilkenny), Brendan Maher (Tipperary), Tommy Walsh (Kilkenny)
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