Limerick sweep the boards with six All Star and both Hurlers of the Year

The county’s historic breakthrough is recognised with six first-time award winners while Galway and Cork take three each

 Limerick’s Cian Lynch is the 2018 Hurler of the Year.

Limerick’s Cian Lynch is the 2018 Hurler of the Year.

 

All-Ireland champions Limerick equalled the county’s best return with six PwC All Star awards at Friday’s presentation banquet in Dublin’s Convention Centre. Defeated finalists Galway received three as did Munster champions Cork. The balance is made up of two Clare and one Kilkenny award.

The PwC All Stars Hurler of the Year award also went to Limerick with Cian Lynch adding to last week’s Gaelic Writers’ Association Hurling Personality of the Year citation. There was further good news for the county with the naming of Kyle Hayes as Young Hurler of the Year.

Lynch, whose technical ability was harnessed to the optimum by Limerick this year, shone at centrefield and beat Galway pair, Joe Canning (last year’s award winner) and Pádraic Mannion.

The All Star teams are chosen by a panel of journalists whereas the individual awards are voted on by inter-county players under the supervision of the Gaelic Players Association.

This year’s team doesn’t appear to have been much affected by the successful introduction of round-robin championships in the provinces - five counties represented as against four last year - and won’t create much controversy.

Limerick wing forward Tom Morrissey may have a grievance given his performances in so many of the big matches this summer, scoring 0-21 from play plus another four from frees when he took over in an emergency capacity against Cork in the Munster championship after the sending-off of Aaron Gillane as well as a critical point at the end of the defeat of Kilkenny in the All-Ireland quarter-final and a goal in the final.

Then again, Patrick Horgan who would have been the most obvious exclusion had Morrissey - whose brother Dan is included at left wing back - been selected had a marginally higher scoring average from play per match.

After drawing a complete blank in 2017, Kilkenny are back in the All Stars line-up with the county’s exceptional goalkeeper Eoin Murphy winning his second award. The high point of his season was probably the All-Ireland quarter-final in which he thwarted four clear-cut goal chances for Limerick.

Limerick’s Kyle Hayes won the young hurler of the year.
Limerick’s Kyle Hayes won the young hurler of the year.

The All Stars team, announced live on RTE television, featured nine new award winners - equalling the number of two years ago but short of the 2013 record of 12 newcomers.

Limerick’s defensive excellence was recognised with four of the back six, including both corner backs, Seán Finn and Richie English and in the half backs, captain and centre back Declan Hannon and Dan Morrissey.

The backs were completed by Galway full back, Daithi Burke - whose cousin and All-Ireland club football winning Corofin team-mate Ian was also presented with his All Star on the night - and another Galway man Pádraic Mannion.

Burke and Mannion together with last year’s HOTY Joe Canning and Cork’s Patrick Horgan are the only players to have survived from last year’s All Stars.

Cork match Galway’s contingent of three. As well as Horgan, Darragh Fitzgibbon at centrefield and team captain Séamus Harnedy at wing forward are recognised.

The champions’ half dozen includes unusually just one forward, Graeme Mulcahy, who in the eyes of many was unlucky not to be nominated for HOTY after an immense season in which his work rate, consistent scoring and tackle counts were a huge contributory factor in the county’s first All-Ireland since 1973.

In that year Limerick picked up just five All Stars and the county’s previous total of six came in 1994 when they lost the All-Ireland final against Offaly. All six of this year’s winners are for the first time.

Galway forward Joe Canning is the most decorated of this year’s selection, taking his fifth whereas his team-mate Burke is winning a fourth successive award.

The balance of the team is made up by Clare forwards, on the right wing Peter Duggan, whose extraordinary point against Galway in the drawn All-Ireland semi-final was one of the highlights of the season and at full forward John Conlon whose form stretched seamlessly through league and championship.

For the first time in five years there is no Tipperary player included after a disappointing year during which they failed to get out of Munster.

PwC All Stars 2018

1 Eoin Murphy (Kilkenny, 2nd award)

2 Seán Finn (Limerick, 1st award)

3 Daithí Burke (Galway, 4th award)

4 Richie English (Limerick, 1st award)

5 Pádraic Mannion (Galway, 2nd award)

6 Declan Hannon (Limerick, 1st award)

7 Dan Morrissey (Limerick, 1st award)

8 Cian Lynch (Limerick, 1st award)

9 Darragh Fitzgibbon (Cork, 1st award)

10 Peter Duggan (Clare, 1st award)

11 Joe Canning (Galway, 5th award)

12< Séamus Harnedy (Cork, 2nd award)

13 Patrick Horgan (Cork, 3rd award)

14 John Conlon (Clare, 1st award)

15 Graeme Mulcahy (Limerick, 1st award)

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