Perfect 10 as Shefflin sets All Star record
2011 GAA/GPA ALL STARS: ALL-IRELAND SENIOR hurling champions Kilkenny understandably dominate the newly combined GAA/GPA All Stars for 2011 with eight of their players selected.
Every line of the team has a Kilkenny player named on it but two in particular must be noted.
Tommy Walsh is recognised for a ninth consecutive campaign but it is Henry Shefflin’s record-breaking 10th All Star that is most notable.
This award propels Shefflin past two GAA legends, having stalled alongside Kerry footballer Pat Spillane (1976 to 1986) and fellow Kilkenny hurler DJ Carey (1991 to 2001) on nine after missing out on the accolade last year due to injury.
For now, at least, the highest ever scorer in inter-county championship history separates himself from everyone else, although the 28-year-old Walsh is expected to draw level and probably surpass him in the coming years.
Walsh has picked up his awards in five different positions – the first four at midfield, then left corner back, left half forward, left half back and the last four at right half back.
Kilkenny’s 33rd title sees the pair joined by six others, including three men never recognised before.
Centre back Brian Hogan finally dislodges Waterford’s Michael “Brick” Walsh – the winner for the past two years.
Paul Murphy’s outstanding displays at corner back gets the 22-year-old Danesfort man on the roster for the first time. Richie Hogan also gets his first All Star having, like Murphy, only really nailed down a starting berth in The Cats full-forward line this season.
Michael Fennelly’s brilliant, driving performances see him retained at midfield, while Richie Power and Michael Rice join Shefflin in an all Kilkenny half-forward line. Both forwards now have two All Stars, Rice previously at midfield and Power at full forward.
A panel of journalists selected the team, but in a new arrangement due to the amalgamation of the Gaelic Players Association awards, the player and young player of the year are voted by their peers.
Walsh and Fennelly join Tipperary wing back Pádraic Maher as the nominees for hurler of the year.
Defeated All-Ireland finalists Tipperary got four All Stars in total yesterday, with Maher joined by last year’s hurler of the year Lar Corbett, while Paul Curran and Michael Cahill make the full back line.
It is Corbett’s third award, Curran’s second and Cahill’s first.
League champions Dublin may consider themselves somewhat unlucky to see only two names on the list – goalkeeper Gary Maguire and Liam Rushe, who is a strong candidate for young hurler of the year.
The closest decision appears to have been in the full-back line where Dublin’s Peter Kelly didn’t make the cut.
Still, Dublin have only three previous All Stars since their inception in 1971 and never had two in one season.
The 2011 team is completed by Waterford’s veteran attacker John Mullane. The De La Salle club man makes the list for a third consecutive year following yet another consistently excellent campaign that included a surprise All-Ireland quarter-final defeat of Galway.
Mullane also scored the match-winning goal to beat Limerick in the Munster semi-final.
The team is only represented by the four teams that reached provincial finals in Munster and Leinster and the All-Ireland semi-finals.
“I congratulate all of the players who won awards and I would like to thank the GPA and CEO Dessie Farrell in particular for helping us to bring the two awards schemes together,” said GAA president Christy Cooney.
The awards banquet takes place tonight at the National Convention Centre in Dublin. It will be broadcast live on RTÉ 1 from 7pm.
The football XV and individual awards will be revealed on the night.
2011 GAA GPA All-Star hurling team
1. Gary Maguire (Dublin, 1st)
2. Paul Murphy (Kilkenny, 1st)
3. Paul Curran (Tipperary, 2nd)
4. Michael Cahill (Tipperary, 1st)
5. Tommy Walsh (Kilkenny, 9th)
6. Brian Hogan (Kilkenny, 1st)
7. Pádraic Maher (Tipperary, 2nd)
8. Liam Rushe (Dublin, 1st)
9. Michael Fennelly (Kilkenny, 2nd)
10. Michael Rice (Kilkenny, 2nd)
11. Richie Power (Kilkenny, 2nd)
12. Henry Shefflin (Kilkenny, 10th)
13. John Mullane (Waterford, 4th)
14. Lar Corbett (Tipperary, 3rd)
15. Richie Hogan (Kilkenny, 1st)