Gearóid Hegarty announced as the 2020 Hurler of the Year

Limerick win nine All Stars as Brian Fenton named as Footballer of the Year

Limerick’s Gearoid Hegarty has been named Hurler of the Year after a fantastic 2020 season. File photograph: Inpho

Limerick’s Gearoid Hegarty has been named Hurler of the Year after a fantastic 2020 season. File photograph: Inpho

 

Limerick wing forward, Gearóid Hegarty was announced as the 2020 Hurler of the Year in a remote broadcast ceremony on Saturday night when the PwC All Stars were formally presented.

He is one of nine All Stars for the All-Ireland champions, who emulated their football counterparts Dublin by equalling the record for one county, achieved three time previously in hurling by Kilkenny, 1983, 2000 and ‘08.

On an historic evening, as the All Stars scheme celebrated its 50th anniversary, there was a further landmark when Waterford’s Stephen Bennett, winning his first award at left corner forward became the winner of the 1,500th All Star.

Limerick, however, dominated 2020, winning national league, Munster and a second All-Ireland title in three years to go unbeaten all year.

The honour conferred on Hegarty and voted on by inter-county players, had been expected after a storming season showcased his power and athleticism, which are the calling cards for the All-Ireland champions in the middle third of the field.

That combined that with impressive scoring yields that yielded 0-7 from play in the resounding All-Ireland defeat of Waterford to finalise a championship average of four points per match. It is a first All Star for the St Patrick’s club man, who has also played for the county footballers and is the son of former All-Ireland finalist Ger.

From the very first championship match, which also doubled up as the league final, Hegarty was in inspired form, as one of the bulwarks of the side.

It is a tribute to how dominant he was that he beat two impressively high-end performers this season in Clare’s Tony Kelly and Bennett, both of whose scoring exploits - each hit more than 50 per cent of his team’s total, Kelly 1-53 out of 5-89 and Bennett 1-54 out of 4-95 - underpinned their county’s season.

Hegarty’s counterpart as Footballer of the Year is on his second award. Brian Fenton’s extraordinary record of never having lost a championship match since his debut six years ago was comfortably maintained.

The dominant centrefielder of his generation, he put down another season of high-energy football, his physique making him the most effective kick-out target in football - Mayo’s hard press in the first half of the All-Ireland final the only time he was under pressure all season.

His athleticism and stamina are relentless and he played all 350 minutes of Dublin’s sixth successive All-Ireland win, earning a fifth All Star in those six seasons.

Team-mate Ciarán Kilkenny is unlucky after a terrific year when he again highlighted his versatility in being able to switch from the familiar role over his career of processing possession and directing traffic in the attack to operating closer to goal and proving a reliable scorer, accumulating 1-20 in five matches. The other nominee was Mayo’s Cillian O’Connor, the all-time top scorer in championship football, whose 4-9 in the All-Ireland semi-final against Tipperary broke the record for a championship match.

Limerick’s share for 2020 includes goalkeeper Nickie Quaid, winning his first and becoming the fourth son of an All Star to emulate his father - in his case the late Tommy - and the second along with Brian Hogan last year to do so in the goalkeeping position.

His team-mate and corner back Seán Finn picks up his third successive award whereas the corner back Daithi Burke, of Galway, joins Kilkenny’s TJ Reid at full forward on a fifth All Star, making them the most decorated of this year’s winners.

As well as Quaid and Hegarty, other first-time awards went to Limerick’s Diarmaid Byrnes, Kyle Hayes and Tom Morrissey - three of the powerhouses in the county’s middle third - and the latter a brother of full back, Dan, whose switch to full back after Mike Casey’s season-ending injury earned him a second award.

Also winning a second is Waterford’s defensive orchestrator Tadhg de Búrca, whose exemplary season ended in crushing disappointment when he sustained a second cruciate injury in successive year in the 21st minute of the All-Ireland final.

His team-mate Jamie Barron wins a third award at centrefield together with Tony Kelly.

Limerick club Patrickswell pick up two with Cian Lynch, whose switch to centre forward was one of John Kiely’s signature adjustments to the 2018 winning team and the consistently prolific Aaron Gillane retaining his 2019 spot at corner forward.

Most obviously unlucky to lose out is Limerick’s Will O’Donoghue who had a fine season, anchoring the team at centrefield.

The Young Players of the Year were also revealed. Oisín Mullin from Mayo won the football award, from his two team-mates Tommy Conroy and Eoghan McLaughlin. After an excellent year at corner back, winning the Connacht final, Mullin had an eye-catching All-Ireland final, tussling with Con O’Callaghan farther out the field and managing a score of his own.

In hurling the award went to Kilkenny’s Ballyhale Shamrocks club whose Eoin Cody succeeded club-mate Adrian Mullen. Cody in his rookie year made a consistent contribution in attack and started the Leinster final, which gave the county a first provincial title in four years.

He won the award ahead of Jake Morris (Tipperary) and Iarlaith Daly (Waterford), having played a big role in his club’s county championship success last year.

2020 PwC Hurling All Stars

1 Nickie Quaid (Effin and Limerick), 31, first award
2 Seán Finn (Bruff and Limerick), 25, third award
3 Dan Morrissey (Ahane and Limerick), 27 second award
4 Daithi Burke (Turloughmore and Galway), 28 fifth award
5 Diarmaid Byrnes (Patrickswell and Limerick), 26, first award
6 Tadhg de Búrca (Clashmore-Kinsalebeg and Waterford), 26, second award
7 Kyle Hayes (Kildimo-Pallaskenry and Limerick), 22, first award
8 Jamie Barron (Fourmilewater and Waterford), 27, third award
9 Tony Kelly (Ballyea and Clare), 27, second award
10 Gearóid Hegarty (St Patrick’s and Limerick), 26, first award
11 Cian Lynch (Patrickswell and Limerick), 25, second award
12. Tom Morrissey (Ahane and Limerick), 24, first award
13 Aaron Gillane (Patrickswell and Limerick), 24, second award
14 TJ Reid (Ballyhale Shamrocks and Kilkenny), 33, fifth award
15 Stephen Bennett (Ballysaggart and Waterford), 25, first award

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