Seven Galway players in 2017 All Star hurling team
Beaten All-Ireland finalists Waterford next best represented county with five awards
The maroon redemption is now complete. Galway collecting seven All Star hurling awards, and with that equalling their previous best haul of 1988 when they last won the All-Ireland.
Beaten All-Ireland finalists Waterford are next best represented with five awards, their most successful spread since 2007 when they also lost the final. The remaining three positions are between Cork (two) and Tipperary (one).
Jointly presented by the GAA/GPA, and sponsored by PwC, four of the Galway recipients are first-time All Star winners: defenders Padraic Mannion and Gearóid McInerney, unquestionably the centre-back of the season, and forwards Conor Whelan and Conor Cooney.
In helping to bridge that 29-year gap Galway also see Joe Canning selected at centre forward for what is his fourth All Star, while David Burke, the All-Ireland final man-of-the-match, collects his fourth All Star at midfield.
Full back Daithí Burke gets his third award, having also won the previous two years, his ownership of the full back position this summer one of the central reasons why Galway were crowned champions.
So with that Galway equal the seven All Star winners from the team that won the Liam MacCarthy Cup back in 1988, and the awards don’t finish there: Canning is also a nomination for Hurler of the Year, and Whelan Young Hurler of the Year, those winners to be announced live at Friday evening’s banquet along with the 2017 football All Star recipients.
It also rounds off an all-conquering year for manager Micheál Donoghue’s team, which also saw Galway win the Leinster hurling title and the Allianz Hurling League, plus the county’s fifth All-Ireland in all. Waterford goalkeeper Stephen O’Keeffe is also a first-time recipient, indeed Waterford’s first ever goalkeeping winner, beating off Cork’s Anthony Nash in the process.
Noel Connors gets his third award in the full back line, Jamie Barron collects his second successive award at midfield, and Michael “Brick” Walsh get his fourth award, named at wing forward (having previously won at midfield in 2007 and centre back in 2009 and 2010).
Kevin Moran gets the other wing forward position for Waterford, having previously won in 2012.
Waterford might well have had more: Tadhg de Búrca considered a strong contender for a defensive position, as indeed was Conor Gleeson, before he missed the All-Ireland final through suspension (and is a contender for Young Hurler of the Year). No room either for Austin Gleeson, last year’s Hurler of the Year.
Munster champions Cork find their two recipients at wing back in Mark Coleman, a first-time winner, and at corner forward in Patrick Horgan, a previous winner in 2013. Coleman is also in contention for Young Hurler of the Year.
Padraic Maher from Tipperary collects his fifth award at wing back, leaving him just one behind Tipperary all-time winners Nicky English and Eoin Kelly, who each have six All Stars.
As often happens, some players are effectively named out of position to allow for the inclusion of others. Mannion, for example, was selected at corner back, where has played before, despite operating most of this season at wing back. It also means no Kilkenny representation since 2013 (TJ Reid and Cillian Buckley were both nominated), and a similar spread as last year when only four counties were mapped.
“Ever since the inaugural presentation of these awards in 1971, being an All Star has been regarded as something truly special in the GAA,” said GAA director general Páraic Duffy. “Regardless of whether it is a first such award or one of several, it is a prestigious honour, and one that is equally treasured by a player’s family and club.”
The All Star team is selected by a cross section of Gaelic games correspondents in the national media, print, TV and radio. Friday’s awards banquet goes out live on RTÉ 1 television from 7pm, the various Player of the Year awards voted on exclusively by intercounty players.