Shefflin sets more records but it's Galway who lead the way
HURLING ALL STARS:FOR THE first time in 39 years the All-Ireland hurling champions were bettered in the All Stars lists last night at the GAA-GPA awards sponsored by Opel. On the team, which was announced live (the football awards having been released two days ago), Kilkenny received five places on the team whereas Galway came out with one more.
This hadn’t happened in hurling since the 1973 season when ironically Kilkenny were the beneficiaries with seven against the five awarded to that year’s champions Limerick.
Other headlines from last night’s awards banquet at Dublin’s Convention Centre include yet more records for Henry Shefflin, who claimed for a record third time the Hurler of the Year award in the season he broke the long-standing record for All-Ireland medals won on the field of play with his ninth after last month’s replay victory in the All-Ireland final.
The Kilkenny man also extended his record for All Stars with an 11th – meaning that through a long and illustrious career beginning in 1999, Shefflin, 33 this year, has missed out on the awards in only three years, 1999 (his debut season), 2001 and 2010.
He also topped the championship scoring charts for the first time since 2006.
Having shaken off another long-term injury earlier in the season, he came into the championship slowly but in a turbulent year for the county he led the fight, unavailingly in the rout by Galway in the Leinster final, but also against Limerick in the All-Ireland quarter-final and most tellingly in the drawn final against Galway when his second-half performance saved the day.
His football counterpart this year also comes from the All-Ireland champions, which was no surprise, as Donegal had completed a clean sweep of the nominations.
Karl Lacey is Footballer of the Year after another tremendous season orchestrating the defence at centre back but playing anywhere across the half back line and finding time for devastating forward breaks, such as the point that finally put the quarter-final beyond Kerry’s reach and the run down the right wing that led directly to Michael Murphy’s goal at the start of the All-Ireland final.
For the first time in the history of the All Stars the Munster hurling champions aren’t represented. Tipperary, whose season fell apart in an All-Ireland semi-final mauling by Kilkenny, fail to get any representatives despite defeating both Waterford and Cork who have been honoured.
After Shefflin the next most honoured player is his team-mate JJ Delaney whose award at full back is the sixth in his career. They are followed by Waterford’s John Mullane, winning recognition for a fourth straight year.
In total there are eight first-time winners: Cork goalkeeper Anthony Nash, Galway captain and wing back Fergal Moore, Clare wing back Brendan Bugler, Galway veteran David Collins, his team-mates Iarla Tannian, for whom last night capped an extraordinary year’s conversion into a centrefielder, and David Burke, who managed the achievement of scoring three goals against Kilkenny over the three matches between the counties, Waterford’s Kevin Moran and Shefflin’s club-mate from Ballyhale TJ Reid.
Galway’s Joe Canning, short-listed for Hurler of the Year, won his third All Star, at the age of 23 having driven his county’s resurgence and ended the campaign second-highest scorer behind Shefflin. His Portumna club-mate Damien Hayes was honoured for the third time after a year in which he changed from an out-and-out attacker to a more deep-lying role.
Two outstanding Kilkenny defenders were awarded their second All Stars. Paul Murphy at corner back was following his debut year’s success whereas Brian Hogan, whose career has been disrupted by injury, copper-fastened his status as the best centre back currently in the game.
The awards for Young Footballer and Hurler of the Year both went to the defeated All-Ireland finalists. Cillian O’Connor from Mayo won the football, an unique achievement in that he was retaining the award and in hurling, Galway’s Johnny Coen.
Finally Ross Dunphy has been appointed strength and conditioning coach to the Dublin hurlers. He succeeds Martin Kennedy who last month joined the county footballers. Dunphy, from Wexford, is a graduate of UL in sport and exercise science and last year worked with the Tipperary hurlers. He has also coached both football and hurling.