All-Ireland champions Galway and runners-up Waterford have picked up record-equalling PwC All-Stars tallies with seven and five awards respectively.
Galway matched their total of seven in 1988, the last time they won the Liam MacCarthy Cup prior to this year, while the Déise collected the same number as they did in 2007 when they were All-Ireland semi-finalists.
There were six first-time All-Ireland winners — Stephen O’Keeffe, Pádraic Mannion, Gearóid McInerney, Mark Coleman, Conor Whelan and Conor Cooney — while the same midfield pairing as last year — Jamie Barron and David Burke — were selected again. It’s the first time an identical midfield duo has been acclaimed in successive seasons.
At yesterday’s All-Stars selection meeting in Croke Park, Cork’s Munster SHC achievement from the first round was acknowledged with the choice of teenager Coleman, who was outstanding in the county’s three-game provincial campaign, and Patrick Horgan, whose 2017 season marked a fine return to form.
For only the eighth time in the 46-year history of the All-Stars, Kilkenny were not represented in the best 15 but they weren’t expected to despite the inclusion of Cillian Buckley and TJ Reid in the nominations.
Tipperary’s sole selection was Pádraic Maher who claimed his fifth All-Star, now just one behind Nicky English, the county’s most decorated player. Four counties in total are represented, the same as last year and 2015, one more than ’14.
Michael Walsh claimed his fourth All-Star 10 years after his first in a forward position having been an honoured midfielder once (2007) and centre-back twice (2009 and ’10).
The Waterford veteran was acknowledged for his excellent run of form from the All-Ireland qualifiers to the final.
His Waterford team-mate O’Keeffe pipped Anthony Nash to win his first accolade in goal while Noel Connors was honoured for the third time after his previous 2010 and ’15 awards. Kevin Moran doubled his total after his previous gong in ’12.
While Maher is the most honoured player in the team, Canning has now annexed his fourth, matching his older brother Ollie’s total. Canning’s previous awards came in 2008, ’09, and ’12.
David Burke shares the same total having been included in 2012, ’15 and ’16. Like his namesake Daithí Burke, the St Thomas’ man has been chosen for the last three years. Aside from the Burkes and Barron, Maher was also feted in 2016.
Meanwhile, the GPA have chosen to amend their selection process for the player of the year and young player of the year awards.
Since 2011, the player to pick up the most votes was selected as the winner. However, this year they have opted for proportional representation. Inter-county hurlers have been asked to pick candidates in hurling in order of preference as they have been in football.
It comes after players last year chose Waterford’s Austin Gleeson and Mayo’s Lee Keegan as footballer and hurler of 2016. Neither won All-Ireland titles that season.
Journalists chose the nominations for the top individual accolades and have this year shortlisted Barron, Canning, and Moran in the senior hurling category and David Clarke, Stephen Cluxton, James McCarthy, and Andy Moran for senior football.
A win for Barron or Moran would mean a Waterford man has been acclaimed for the third time in 10 years after current selector Dan Shanahan in 2007, a fourth in 19 following Tony Browne in 1998. Since the start of the All-Star hurler of the year scheme in 1995, no Galway man has yet won it.
Under the annual ‘Texaco Awards’, Joe Connolly (1980), Joe Cooney (’87) and Tony Keady (’88) were victors.
The hurling winners, as well as the football All-Stars, will be announced on the live awards show at the National Convention Centre on RTÉ1 tomorrow evening at 7pm.
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