Hurling All Stars: Kilkenny and Galway lead nominations

Both the All-Ireland champions and finalists get 12 apiece on the shortlist

Kilkenny and Galway share the biggest presence on the short list for the GAA GPA All Stars, sponsored by Opel.

Both All-Ireland finalists have 12 nominations each, followed closely by league winners Waterford with 11.

Munster champions Tipperary are next, on seven as Cork, Clare and Dublin are also represented amongst the nominations with one each.

Of the two teams that started last month's All-Ireland final only Kilkenny's Shane Prendergast, Walter Walsh and Colin Fennelly as well as Galway's John Hanbury, Aidan Harte and Cyril Donnellan miss out on nominations.


In contention

All told, a third of last year's nominees have been put forward again and nine of the 2014 All Star team are in contention again this year: Darren Gleeson, Paul Murphy, the entire half-back line of Brendan and Pádraic Maher plus Cillian Buckley, Richie Hogan, TJ Reid, John O'Dwyer and Séamus Callanan.

The names announced reflect the season, as Kilkenny and Galway not alone contested the All-Ireland but also the Leinster final. Waterford were the team everyone was talking about in the earlier part of the season having come from Division One B to win the league title, beating Galway, Tipperary and Cork along the way.

Despite winning Munster, Tipperary’s allocation is seven, reflective of a season that turned out a disappointment, getting edged out by Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final, manager Eamon O’Shea’s last match in charge.

Clare, Cork and Dublin all had seasons even more disappointing than Tipp's and it required great individual displays from Tony Kelly especially, Séamus Harnedy and Mark Schutte to earn inclusion in the short list.

It promises to be a fairly inexperienced selection when the team is picked. In 2013 none of the players selected had more than two All Stars and there’s likely to be a similar absence of veterans this year.

This is mostly due to retirements, especially in Kilkenny, where 11-time winner Henry Shefflin has departed the scene along with team-mate JJ Delaney, whose award at full back last year was his seventh All Star. Of these nominations only Kilkenny's Paul Murphy, Tipperary's Pádraic Maher and Waterford's Michael Walsh have three awards.

Outfield players

Former Kilkenny Hurlers of the Year Eoin Larkin and Michael Fennelly have two All Stars each as does Galway's Joe Canning. That is the extent of the multiple award winners in this year's nominations. More than half of those nominated have yet to pick up their first.

This year the system of selection has changed. Outfield players have been nominated in broader categories of defence, centrefield and attack rather than by their line on the field. This was decided on in order to reflect the growing fluidity of positional play with both football and hurling.

The Hurler of the Year short list features last year’s winner Kilkenny’s Richie Hogan, who had another exceptional season, but it is his team-mate TJ Reid who is favourite to capture the 2015 award after a great year that included winning the All-Ireland for both club, Ballyhale Shamrocks, and county.

The third nomination, Séamus Callanan, was also short listed last year but once again is nominated after a season which he ended as the championship’s joint top goal scorer, having scored 3-9 in the All-Ireland semi-final that Tipperary lost narrowly against Galway.

All told there are seven counties represented, which is a fall of two compared to last year when players from nine counties were recognised. Limerick, Wexford and Offaly got nominations last year but not this time whereas Waterford’s 11 are earned from a standing start, as the county had none in 2014.

Sweeper role

The Young Hurler of the Year nominations include two from Galway, corner forward Cathal Mannion, the championship's top scorer from play, and Jason Flynn as well as Waterford's Tadhg de Búrca, whose performances in the sweeper role were a key component of the team's defensive strategy.

The individual awards will be voted on by the membership of the GPA and the winners will be announced along with this year’s hurling All Stars on the night of the awards, which will be presented at Dublin’s Convention Centre on Friday 6th November.

2015 GAA GPA Hurling All-Stars nominations
Goalkeepers: Colm Callanan (Galway), Eoin Murphy (Kilkenny), Darren Gleeson (Tipperary).
Defenders: Daithí Burke (Galway), Cillian Buckley (Kilkenny), Joey Holden (Kilkenny), Paul Murphy (Kilkenny), Pádraic Walsh (Kilkenny), Johnny Coen (Galway), Iarla Tannion (Galway), Pádraig Mannion (Galway), Kieran Joyce (Kilkenny), Pádraic Maher (Tipperary), Cathal Barrett (Tipperary), James Barry (Tipperary), Noel Connors (Waterford), Tadhg de Búrca (Waterford), Shane Fives (Waterford), Austin Gleeson (Waterford), Barry Coughlan (Waterford), Philip Mahony (Waterford).
Centrefielders: Andrew Smith (Galway), David Burke (Galway), Michael Fennelly (Kilkenny), Conor Fogarty (Kilkenny), Kevin Moran (Waterford), Jamie Barron (Waterford).
Forwards: Tony Kelly (Clare), Séamus Harnedy (Cork), Mark Schutte (Dublin), Cathal Mannion (Galway), Jason Flynn (Galway), Jonathan Glynn (Galway), Joe Canning (Galway), Conor Whelan (Galway), Ger Aylward (Kilkenny), TJ Reid (Kilkenny), Eoin Larkin (Kilkenny), Richie Hogan (Kilkenny), Brendan Maher (Tipperary), John O'Dwyer (Tipperary), Séamus Callanan (Tipperary), Colin Dunford (Waterford), Maurice Shanahan (Waterford), Michael Walsh (Waterford).
Player of the Year: TJ Reid (Kilkenny), Richie Hogan (Kilkenny), Séamus Callanan (Tipperary).
Young Player of the Year: Jason Flynn (Galway), Cathal Mannion (Galway), Tadhg de Búrca (Waterford).

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times