Tipperary’s hurlers created a little bit of history last night when they became only the second All-Ireland runners-up to pick up seven All Stars.
For the second time in three seasons, Kilkenny as champions received one less than the team they beat in the final.
In 2012, Galway picked up six to the Cats’ five and this season Tipperary have bested their half a dozen. As runners-up in 1973, Kilkenny attained seven of the individual accolades compared to Limerick’s five.
In 1994, both All-Ireland winners Offaly and Limerick’s hurlers received six All Stars. The same also happened to Offaly in 1985 when they and Galway were each awarded five. In the inaugural year of the awards scheme, both finalists Tipperary and Kilkenny were acknowledged with four.
It marks Tipperary’s third joint largest haul, repeating their total when they won the Liam MacCarthy Cup in 1991 and 2001. Kilkenny’s inferior number to Tipperary can largely be credited to the flux in their side and the significant number of starters they had during this year’s Championship. In all, they had 24 players who started one game or more. Excluding Tommy Walsh and Aidan Fogarty, 22 began two or more matches.
Also for the second time in three seasons, the Munster champions are excluded from the selection. Cork, just like Tipperary in 2012, have no representatives in the group.
However, there were places for two Limerick players, the excellent Seamus Hickey and Shane Dowling, after impressive performances in both the Munster championship and All-Ireland final series.
Eight players in all stepped up to the stage to receive All Stars for the first time last night, three of them Tipperary men. In his first full season after Brendan Cummins’ retirement, Darren Gleeson edged out his Kilkenny counterpart Eoin Murphy who missed the Leinster final and All-Ireland semi-final through injury.
Gleeson’s team-mate Cathal Barrett, like Dowling on last evening’s shortlist for young hurler of the year, was unlucky to miss out on a slot in the full-back line where Hickey along with Kilkenny duo Paul Murphy and JJ Delaney were honoured. Delaney claimed his seventh All Star while Murphy, after only his fourth season on the Kilkenny panel, added a third award to his collection.
Tipperary took the lion’s share of the half-back line. For assured campaigns, captain Brendan Maher and namesake Pádraic were named at right and centre half back respectively. For his consistency from the Leinster final onwards, Cillian Buckley was a deserving recipient of his first All Star on the other wing.
As the favourite for hurler of the year despite being taken off in the All-Ireland final replay, Richie Hogan was a shoo-in at midfield. The question was whether Shane McGrath, enjoying a renaissance of form from the All-Ireland quarter-final, or Hogan’s partner Conor Fogarty would join him. McGrath’s 0-9 contribution over four games was the difference and the 30-year-old claimed his second gong after winning his first in 2008.
All but one of the forward line comprised Kilkenny and Tipperary players. The marksmanship of John “Bubbles” O’Dwyer was hard to ignore as was the graft and considerable contributions made by Patrick “Bonner” Maher to the Tipperary cause this past summer, the pair All Star debutants.
TJ Reid, only second to Hogan as Kilkenny’s most influential player this season with 4-10 from play, was never a doubt at left-half forward, taking his second All Star.
In the full-forward line, Callanan, as Tipperary’s only candidate for hurler of the year, was an automatic selection. With a remarkable 9-16 from play, more than Dan Shanahan scored when he was handed the top individual award in 2007, he richly merited his first All Star.
Colin Fennelly, whose points sealed the All-Ireland title for Kilkenny, was also honoured for the first time as was Limerick’s Dowling, who scored a hefty 3-8 from play during the 2014 Championship.
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