OPINION: Picking an All Star team prior to the All-Ireland Final


THERE is just one game left in the 2020 All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship.

Limerick and Waterford will do battle for the games biggest prize on December 13 in Croke Park.

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With just that solitary game to be decided, have a look below at the players in pole position to win All Stars in what has been an unforgettable year.


Nickie Quaid (Limerick)

Quaid has been Limerick’s undisputed number one for ten seasons now but has yet to earn an All Star award. His consistency is unerring and clean sheets in the Munster final and All-Ireland semi-final are a testament to that. It is down to him and Stephen O’Keefe with the All-Ireland outcome bound to be a factor.

Munster GAA Senior Hurling Championship Final, LIT Gaelic Grounds, Limerick 30/6/2019
Tipperary vs Limerick
Limerick goalkeeper Nickie Quaid celebrates his side’s second goal
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

2. Corner Back

Sean Finn (Limerick)

Finn is a steady All-Ireland final display away from winning a third consecutive All Star. The Bruff man is the best in the business at corner back and has only furthered this fact in 2020.

Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Final, Croke Park, Dublin 31/3/2019
Limerick vs Waterford
Limerick’s Sean Finn celebrates
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

3. Full-Back

Daithi Burke

The full-back missed Galway’s opener against Wexford but was back for the Leinster final where he showcased his talents. He has been the premier full-back in the country for the best part of a decade and could well win a fifth All Star award in six years. His handling of Aaron Gillane is one example of his unrivalled class at 3. Could be pipped by Conor Prunty however if he has a big final.

4. Corner Back

Dan Morrissey (Limerick)

While he is named at corner back on this team, Limerick’s 2020 full back, Dan Morrissey has to be included in the selection. The Ahane man has been imperious on the edge of the square and has quickly quashed any worries in the wake of Mike Casey’s injury.

Allianz Hurling League, LIT Gaelic Grounds, Limerick 2/2/2020
Limerick vs Galway
Limerick’s Dan Morrissey and Joe Canning of Galway
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan

5. Half Back

Diarmaid Byrnes (Limerick)

One man that has gone under the radar this Winter has been Diarmaid Byrnes who has put in four brilliant displays for Limerick at 5. After missing out on All Star awards in his first couple of years on the panel, the Patrickswell man seems a shoo-in with 0-11 to his name thus far with just four coming from placed balls.

Allianz Hurling League Division 1A, Gaelic Grounds, Limerick 2/2/2019
Limerick vs Tipperary
Limerick’s Diarmaid Byrnes in action against Tipperary’s Patrick Maher
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ken Sutton

6. Centre Back

 Tadhg de Burca (Waterford)

The Waterford centre-back is having a season for the ages. His reading of the game is out of this world and he always looks in control of the Deise rearguard. With more licence under Cahill he showed his worth against Kilkenny in a big way, commanding the air before finishing off the game with an excellent score. HOTY candidate.

7. Half Back

Callum Lyons (Waterford)

In his second year, Callum Lyons has been outstanding. Having plyed his trade in the full back line in 2019, Cahill has unleashed him at wing back for the winter and he has blossomed there. He announced himself with a haul of 1-2 in the win over Cork and hasn’t really missed a beat since.

It’s worth noting that another big performance from Kyle Hayes would see him usurp the Ballyduff Lower man with both having played well beyond their years this season.

8. Midfield

Jamie Barron (Waterford)

The Fourmilewater man is back to his very best after a couple of below par campaigns. He has the ability to win a game by himself and is once more in the running for the Hurler of the Year award he should have won in 2017.

9. Midfield

Cian Lynch (Limerick)

Although we have seen him at centre-forward for a couple of games, Cian Lynch slots in at midfield, where he won his previous All Star in 2018 as well as the HOTY gong. The Patrickswell man has everything you would want from an elite player and has barely put a foot wrong wherever he has played this year. Class act.

Munster GAA Senior Hurling Championship Round 3, Walsh Park, Co. Waterford 2/6/2019
Waterford vs Limerick
Waterford’s Jamie Barron with Cian Lynch of Limerick
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Oisin Keniry

10. Half Forward

Gearoid Hegarty (Limerick)

Hegarty put out an early season warning with five glorious points against Clare in the Munster quarter-final and has continued in the same vein. His relentless workrate often shadows his immense ability on the ball that has seen him contribute 0-13 from play in just four outings. He just pips fellow wing forward Tom Morrissey and is the favourite to take home the Hurler of the Year award.

29 November 2020; Gearóid Hegarty of Limerick in action against Seán Loftus of Galway during the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final match between Limerick and Galway at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

11. Centre Forward

Tony Kelly (Clare)

In his first three games, Tony Kelly was a one man team as he single handily dragged Clare into the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

Just look at his returns from the opening three games;

  • 0-17 (0-9f) v Limerick
  • 0-13 (0-9f) v Laois
  • 1-15 (0-9f) v Wexford

Those are obscene stats and was it not for an ankle injury sustained early against Waterford, who knows how far Clare could have gone with the Ballyea man. Nonetheless, he is a guaranteed All Star.

12. Half Forward

TJ Reid (Kilkenny)

When the ship was sinking beside him in the All-Ireland semi-final against Waterford, TJ Reid put up the fight to the Deise and once again reminded all why he is one of the best ever to do it. He has been at the peak of his powers for a number of years now and shows little signs of slowing. His goals against Galway and Waterford were a timely reminder of his undoubted class.

13. Corner Forward

Stephen Bennett (Waterford)

Stephen has had to watch on has his two brothers Shane and Kieran burst onto the senior intercounty scene before him.  However, in 2020 he has displayed the form that made him one of the most promising underage players in the country in 2013. He has gotten better with each game, taking on the free-taking mantle in Pauric Mahony’s absence and has become his sides number one option up front.  A stellar season.

14. Full Forward

Aaron Gillane (Limerick)

Gillane will be quick to highlight how quiet he was kept in the All-Ireland semi-final as he bagged just a single point from play. However, the Galway defending was definitely a factor as they limited him, Flanagan and Mulcahy to just three points.

Nonetheless, Gillane’s stock continues to rise and his Munster semi performance against Tipperary sticks out as he bagged 2-6 with minimal of fuss. Is a doubt for the final and would be a huge loss.

Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Final, Croke Park, Dublin 31/3/2019
Limerick vs Waterford
Limerick’s Aaron Gillane celebrates scoring the first goal of the game
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

15. Corner Forward

Brian Concannon (Galway)

Taking the final jersey is a man that has really come into his own under Shane O’Neill this Winter. He is surrounded by All Star talent in Joe Canning, Cathal Mannion and Conor Whelan, but Concannon has been the most consistent and was a real spark in the semi-final against Limerick. Finished the season with 2-8 from play and created so much more winning plenty of frees.

Waterford’s Dessie Hutchinson is not far off this position however.

Unlucky to miss out

Kyle Hayes (Limerick)

Probably should be included but playing in two positions has slightly worked against him. Will be no surprise to see him selected after the final.

Conor Prunty (Waterford)

As mentioned, has been rock solid so far and is a good final away from the side.

Tom Morrissey (Limerick)

Tipped away with his business in the first three games but came alive when needed in the semi-final. Faces an uphill battle such is the competition for places in the forwards but could certainly make it.

Huw Lawlor (Kilkenny)

The standard of full back play has been exceptional this year and Lawlor has performed well in his sophomore year.

Dessie Hutchinson (Waterford)

Has taken to the intercounty game with ease and is getting better with each game under Cahill.

Cathal Mannion (Galway)

Has really stepped up to the mantle with Joe Canning’s time in the side running out. Unstoppable on his day as he was against Wexford

Austin Gleeson (Waterford)

Is probably unfairly compared to his 2016 HOTY season but Gleeson has quietly gone about his business, grabbing a couple of crucial scores in each game, notably against Kilkenny down the stretch.

Jack Neville’s All Star team as of December 2

  1. Nicke Quiad
  2. Sean Finn
  3. Daithi Burke
  4. Dan Morriseey
  5. Diarmaid Byrnes
  6. Tadhg De Burca
  7. Callum Lyons
  8. Jamie Barron
  9. Cian Lynch
  10. Gearoid Hegarty
  11. Tony Kelly
  12. TJ Reid
  13. Stephen Bennett
  14. Aaron Gillane
  15. Brian Concannon

Breakdown: 7 Limerick, 4 Waterford, 2 Galway, 1 Kilkenny, 1 Clare

The post OPINION: Picking an All Star team prior to the All-Ireland Final appeared first on Sporting Limerick.