All Stars should be picked where they play

Paul Murphy was the most consistent backman in the country this year, bar none, and one of the most outstanding hurlers.

An analysis of the All Star hurling selection indicates the selectors got it close enough — but there are blatant inconsistencies. For me, two players stand out, one who hasn’t been selected and one who has.

Paul Murphy was the most consistent backman in the country this year, bar none, and one of the most outstanding hurlers. How he can then be omitted from the All-Star team beats me but that’s how it goes, isn’t it?

Kilkenny didn’t make the All-Ireland semi-final or final and he suffers because of that. Winning the Allianz Hurling League? Means nothing, it seems. Then again Kilkenny probably gained a few over the years when they were winning the All-Ireland title seemingly every year so I suppose it’s swings and roundabouts.

The other player is Conor Ryan. I wouldn’t have any qualms had Conor been awarded an All-Star as a half-back because he was outstanding there. But that he was nominated in midfield was wrong, that he actually got an All Star is worse. Why? Because Conor Ryan didn’t play in midfield this year, not any of the games I saw anyway.

He played at wing-forward, he played at wing-back, he played centre-back, But midfield?

What does that say to those who did play in midfield, all those who had such an outstanding season there?

What does it say to Joey Boland, to Daniel Kearney? In fact I’d say this — Conor’s captain was more deserving of a place in midfield than he was, because Patrick Donnellan did play there, on a few occasions, and played well. Baffling.

Making things worse, Pat is named as wing-back! Had those positions been reversed, I wouldn’t have been writing these lines.

I don’t agree with the way all this is done anyway, far too much emphasis on the All-Ireland final, far too much accommodating of players in different positions.

I think the nominations for the individual positions should take place before the All-Ireland final. Also, nominate guys who actually played in those positions and then let the best man win — no more of this moving fellas around.

An All Star in any position should at least be identified with that position.

I’d have to say though, for the most part I’d agree with the selection. Pa Kelly had a good year for Clare, as had Colm Callanan of Galway and Stephen O’Keeffe from Waterford but Anthony Nash was the best keeper.

In the full-back line Shane O’Neill had a poor last day out but up to that, was having a great year. His two red-cards that weren’t, however (very lucky against Kilkenny and Clare), probably cost him. Mickey Cahill of Tipperary was another who must have come close, as did Donal O’Donovan and Tom Condon, but I’m glad to see Richie McCarthy recognised.

In the half-back line Brick Walsh of Waterford had another great year, as had Gavin O’Mahony of Limerick, while that man Tommy Walsh was as consistent as ever.

Overall though the three who are there can’t be faulted.

In midfield I’ve mentioned Joey Boland and Daniel Kearney but Paul Browne was another who had an outstanding season. Colm Galvin though — no contest, an automatic.

In the half-forward line the two guys who are most unlucky are Colin Ryan of Clare and Dublin’s Conal Keaney, though I don’t think anyone would have said too much either if Cork’s youngster Conor Lehane had gotten an award.

Up front, off-hand I can’t think of anyone who should have got in ahead of the three who are chosen but God, what team wouldn’t have Joe Canning on board?

And likewise Kilkenny’s Richie Hogan, would have been an automatic, surely, before the All-Ireland semi-final stages.

Richie was absolutely brilliant through the league while Joe was again almost a one-man band for Galway on several occasions.


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