Hurling All Stars: Limerick smash record with 12 while Cork are left out

Previous record of nine awards had been achieved by four sides, including Limerick

Limerick hurlers have made history by smashing the previous record number of All Stars in a given year. Having already established a new mark for the county last August by winning back-to-back All-Irelands – and three in four years – for the first time, John Kiely's team end the year with 12 PwC All Stars, beating by three the previous best of nine, which they emulated last year.

That record stands for both hurling and football and was previously achieved three times in hurling by Kilkenny in 1983, 2000 and 2008, twice in football by Dublin, last year and 1977, and once by Kerry, in 1981.

The other headline from this year's selection is that Cork have received no awards – the first time this has happened to beaten All-Ireland finalists in the 51 years of the scheme or indeed during the prototype 'Gaelic Weekly' All Stars, which were presented from 1963 to 1967.

Whereas Kieran Kingston’s side had several players in contention for awards, none convinced the selectors sufficiently for inclusion in this year’s line-up. It’s actually a familiar price paid by teams who lose All-Ireland finals heavily.


The previous low-water mark for defeated finalists is one, as picked up by Offaly in 2000 (beaten by Kilkenny by 13 points) with Johnny Dooley, and eight years later when Eoin Kelly became the only Waterford hurler selected after a championship that concluded with a 23-point walloping in the final from Kilkenny.

Cork had been reasonably competitive in the Munster semi-final against Limerick but the champions were only getting started at that stage. The counties' All-Ireland final ended in a 16-point win for the champions but forwards Séamus Harnedy, Jack O'Connor and Patrick Horgan all had their advocates.

Since the decline of Kilkenny, without an All-Ireland in seven years by next season, traditional Leinster representation (not counting Galway) on the All Stars has suffered the knock-on effects.

Kilkenny's Eoin Murphy was awarded this year's goalkeeper All Star but no other players from the province made the selection, meaning that for the fourth time in the last five years no more than one Leinster hurler – and in 2017, none – has been included.

It is now 28 years since all four provinces were represented on an All Star hurling selection.

This year's winners include six honoured for the first time: Waterford full back Conor Prunty, Limerick corner back Barry Nash, his centrefield colleagues, Will O'Donoghue and Darragh O'Donovan as well as full forwards Séamus Flanagan and Peter Casey.

It means that the entire Limerick team, which started this year's All-Ireland final, now have All Stars – as does replacement Graeme Mulcahy and panellist Richie English – which is another record, shading the 1983 Kilkenny team.

The awards haul is an accurate reflection of a year dominated by Limerick. They started slowly in the league and failed to win any of their first three fixtures

Full back Prunty missed Waterford's opening championship match, the defeat by Clare, but returned in time to impress in All-Ireland qualifiers and also in the semi-final match against Limerick when he held his own against Aaron Gillane despite enormous pressure.

Prunty is one of the three players not from Limerick and together with Murphy in goal, had to see off a considerable challenge from the champions in that Dan Morrissey, who finished the season strongly, had missed a lot of time to injury whereas Limerick goalkeeper and 2020 All Star Nickie Quaid was a strong candidate in goal.

The third player, who didn't play for the All-Ireland winners is Clare's Tony Kelly, who had another stunning season playing more up front than previously and was a shoo-in for an All Star, having scored 3-40 in four matches and averaging over three points from play.

Leading the way for Limerick in terms of awards is Seán Finn, the nonpareil corner back in modern hurling, who has been in undisputed possession of an All Star jersey for four straight years since Limerick’s breakthrough All-Ireland in 2018.

A decision based on public health was taken not to hold a banquet again this year and a programme on the 2021 All Stars will be broadcast this Friday from 7.0pm. During this broadcast the winners of the football All Stars will be announced along with the players of the year.

2021 Hurling All Stars

(* denotes first award)
1 Eoin Murphy (Kilkenny) 3rd award
2 Seán Finn (Limerick) 4th award
3 Conor Prunty (Waterford) *
4 Barry Nash (Limerick) *
5 Diarmaid Byrnes (Limerick) 2nd award
6 Declan Hannon (Limerick) 2nd award
7 Kyle Hayes (Limerick) 2nd award
8 Will O'Donoghue (Limerick) *
9 Darragh O'Donovan (Limerick) *
10 Gearóid Hegarty (Limerick) 2nd award
11 Cian Lynch (Limerick) 3rd award
12 Tom Morrissey (Limerick) 2nd award
13 Tony Kelly (Clare) 3rd award
14 Séamus Flanagan (Limerick) *
15 Peter Casey (Limerick) *