Declan Coulter takes opportunity to shine in Abu Dhabi

Donegal and former Armagh hurler scores 1-6 and is named Man of the Match

2018 All Stars 9-16 2019 All Stars 8-9

Showcasing what we must assume as axiomatically greater hunger, the 2018 PwC All Stars beat their 2019 counterparts on a perfect afternoon for hurling in Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City on Friday afternoon before an enthusiastic gathering of the local Gaelic games community.

The well-received policy of inviting players from outside the top tier of the game was vindicated in the case of Donegal's (and formerly Armagh's) Declan Coulter, who scored 1-6 and won the Man of the Match award chosen by the travelling media.

Coulter’s score-taking was particularly sharp early in the match, as the 2018 selection took a grip on the match and never let go.

"At the end of the day we're all hurlers," he said afterwards, "and when the ball is thrown in, you want to do your best. It obviously wasn't All-Ireland final pace there today but it was still tough going! You're marking lads from Limerick and Cork and Tipperary. It's a great honour for me."

Mention should also be made of Laois goalkeeper Enda Rowland, whose form between the posts in the county's McDonagh Cup-winning campaign earned him an All Star nomination.

Playing outfield here – with Cork's Anthony Nash taking the number one jersey – he scored four goals, which maybe gives Laois manager Eddie Brennan previously unconsidered options.

Local Abu Dhabi Na Fianna man – by way of Tipperary – Ailbe Power also got in on the goalscoring act.

The teams were managed by Liam Sheedy, this year's All-Ireland winner with Tipperary and in charge of the 2019 side, and retiring Cork manager John Meyler, who at least signed off by getting (modestly) back at his opposite number for Tipp's defeat of Cork in Páirc Uí Chaoimh last May.

2018 All-Stars: Paddy McKenna (Kildare), Seán Finn (Limerick; 2-0), Edward Byrne (Carlow; 1-1), Dan Morrissey (Limerick; 1-0), Declan Hannon (Limerick; 0-1), Cian Lynch (Limerick), Darragh Fitzgibbon (Cork), Killian Doyle (Westmeath; 0-1), Séamus Harnedy (Cork; 1-4), Peter Duggan (Clare; 1-0), John Conlon (Clare; 1-0), Declan Coulter (Donegal; 1-6), Graeme Mulcahy (Limerick; 1-3), Greg Murphy (Abu Dhabi Na Fianna)

2019 All-Stars: Anthony Nash (Cork), Pádraic Maher (Tipperary), Wayne McNamara (Limerick), Diarmuid O'Keeffe (Wexford; 0-1), James Weir (Sligo), Neil McManus (Antrim), Paddy Purcell (Laois), Shane Conway (Kerry; 1-2), Noel McGrath (Tipperary), John McGrath (Tipperary; 1-0), Patrick Horgan (Cork; 1-4), Richie Hogan (Kilkenny; 0-1), Enda Rowland (Laois; 4-0), Ailbe Power (Abu Dhabi Na Fianna 1-1).

Referee: James Owens (Wexford).

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times

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