Eight All Star awards on yet another banner day for Clare’s golden generation
Beaten finalists Cork may feel hard done by while Dublin also land three awards
Forward Pádraic “Podge” Collins saw his wonderful 2013 championship rewarded last night when he was named as one of the eight Clare players on this year’s All Star selection. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
The revolution is complete, all resistance now futile. It may not be an all-time record but Clare’s eight All Star awards equals their best ever haul, in 1995, the last time they took the hurling world by such storm.
Cork, who had them almost beaten in the first All-Ireland final first encounter, might feel a little hard done by with just three awards, the same as the team they beat in the semi-final, Dublin, with Munster champions Limerick completing the picture for 2013 with their solitary award.
All but two of Clare’s starting line-up from the All-Ireland replay had been nominated, and their winners include both midfielders, Colm Galvin and Conor Ryan, defenders David McInerney, Brendan Bugler, and captain Patrick Donnellan, and forwards Tony Kelly, Pádraic “Podge” Collins, and Conor McGrath.
Hat-trick of goals
There’s no room for defender Domhnall O’Donovan, scorer of that incredible equalising point, deep into injury-time in the drawn final, not for Shane O’Donnell, whose hat-trick of goals inside the first 20 minutes of the replay earned him the man-of-the-match award.
As if to emphasise the suddenness of their return to hurling’s top table, half of Clare’s eight award winners were also part of their All-Ireland under-21 winning team; McInerney, Galvin, Kelly and Collins.
All just children of the revolution, although there was one other under-21 award winner in Dublin wing forward Danny Sutcliffe.
The Leinster champions also secured a second All Star award for Liam Rushe, but other than that 12 of the 15 players are first-time recipients.
That’s what happens when no other county outside the four All-Ireland semi-finalists got a look in, and which this year meant no Kilkenny, Galway or Waterford – the three counties which made up 13 of the 15 All Star awards in 2012.
Along with Bugler and Rushe, the only other repeat award winner is Cork goalkeeper Anthony Nash – who did enjoy a sensational season, scoring 3-9 in the championship and proving an energising force throughout their campaign, despite also being the first goalkeeper to concede five goals in an All-Ireland final since Stephen Byrne of Offaly back in 2000.
The quality and quantity of the forwards nominated was always going to make those lines a very tight fit, with Dublin’s Conal Keaney, David O’Callaghan and Paul Ryan among those to be squeezed out, Keaney probably wondering what more he could have done.
Indeed on that basis Cork did relatively well to get two forwards on the team: Séamus Harnedy certainly made a major breakthrough, improving all summer and scoring 1-2 in the final replay and ending up Cork’s second highest scorer this summer behind Patrick Horgan – who was also certain of an All Star for his exceptional level of consistency, from both play and placed balls.
Still, that Clare ended up with half of the forward selections in Kelly, Collins and McGrath is perfectly justified: both Kelly and Collins are also nominated for hurler of the year – along with Cork’s Nash – and it wouldn’t have taken a whole lot for either of these players to be replaced by team-mate Colin Ryan.
Collins did have a quiet replay, but not enough to dim the noise he made all summer, while Kelly, still only 19, matured beyond all expectations.
On the note it seems inevitable that one of those young Clare forwards will win hurler of the year – which will be announced live tomorrow evening at the All Star banquet in Croke Park, along with the football selection (and player of the year and young player of the year winners in both codes).
“After the incredible year we had, this year’s hurling selection was of particular interest to hurling followers everywhere,” said GAA president Liam O’Neill.
“I congratulate all 15 players, and those who were nominated too, as their inclusion further underlines their roles as excellent ambassadors through their commitment and dedication to the pursuit of excellence.
“ I would also like to acknowledge the role of our partners the GPA and sponsors Opel whose support is highly valued. Finally, thanks also to the journalists who select the teams and who continue a proud tradition that stretches back to 1971.”
ALL STAR TEAM 2013: 1 Anthony Nash (Cork); 2. Richie McCarthy (Limerick), 3. Peter Kelly (Dublin), 4. David McInerney (Clare); 5. Brendan Bugler (Clare), 6. Liam Rushe (Dublin), 7. Patrick Donnellan (Clare); 8. Colm Galvin (Clare), 9. Conor Ryan (Clare); 10. Séamus Harnedy (Cork), 11. Tony Kelly (Clare), 12. Danny Sutcliffe (Dublin); 13. Pádraic Collins (Clare); 14. Patrick Horgan (Cork); 15. Conor McGrath (Clare)