OPINION: Hurling All Stars if they were picked now

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Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

THERE is only one game left in the 2021 All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship.

Only two teams remain in the hunt for the All-Ireland as Limerick and Cork do battle on August 22.

Limerick are seeking back to back titles for the first time ever while Cork are looking to end their 16-year famine.

For all but those two squads, the season is over and the the time fro reflection is fast approaching. For the majority, the opportunity to impress has passed with a number of All-Star selections set in stone.

With that in mind, if the All Stars were picked in the morning, who would be the XV collecting the individual honours.

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Goalkeeper

Nickie Quaid (Limerick)

Eoin Murphy continues to add to his case as the best goalkeeper of all time, with his performance on Sunday of the highest order. But for the second consecutive year, Nickie Quaid has been the standard bearer. So rarely troubled and always so assured, one of Limerick’s greatest.

Missing out: Eoin Murphy


Corner Back

Sean Finn (Limerick)

The best corber back in the country and one of the best players outright. Unrivaled. Ffour on the trot.

Missing out: Sean O’Donoghue

27 July 2021; Seán Finn of Limerick during the GAA All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Launch at Lough Gur in Limerick. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Full Back

Robert Downey (Cork)

Robert Downey has made the full back position his own in the past three weeks with a string of brilliant performances. Man of the match against Dublin in the quarter-final, he started slowly against Kilkenny before thundering his way into the game with a host of brilliant interceptions. Conor Prunty has taken his game to a new level and is unlucky to miss out. But had Dan Morrissey started more than one game this year he would be right within a shout of winning a third All Star.

Missing out: Conor Prunty


Corner Back

Niall O’Leary (Cork)

One of the unsung heroes on the Cork team, Niall O’Leary has usurped Sean O’Donoghue as the Rebels key corner back. Barry Nash, Rory Hayes, Paddy Deegan and Huw Lawlor all deserved a shout.

Missing out: Rory Hayes


Half Back

Tim O’Mahony (Cork)

After a few years where he struggled to nail down a position, Tim O’Mahony has made the number 5 jersey his own. His goal against Dublin was the undoubted highlight but his character in extra-time against Kilkenny has shown how much he has grown as a player.

Missing out: Calum Lyons


Centre-Back

Diarmuid Byrnes (Limerick)

Staggeringly consistent, Byrnes is well on his way to a second All Star and will be keep if Limerick are to pick up a third title in four years. Shifted to centre-back for the purpose of the team.

Missing out: Padraig Walsh


Half Back

Kyle Hayes (Limerick)

The most dangerous player in the game, even through he is a wing back, says all you need to know about Hayes. Potential Hurler of the Year.

Missing out: Kieran Bennett


Midfield

Jamie Barron (Waterford)

His impact on the Waterford team is incredible when you consider the differnce from the team that played Clare in Munster and the one that met Tipp in the All-Ireland quarter-final. But was well beaten by Will O’Donoghue in Croke Park with the Nap man one performance away from an All Star.

Missing out: William O’Donoghue


Midfield

Cathal Malone (Clare)

The first non All-Ireland finalist is fully deserving of a maiden All Star after starring for the Banner in their three outings. But like Barron, could be pipped by a Limerick man in the final with Darragh O’Donovan exceptional in the semi-final.

Missing out: Darragh O’Donovan


Half Forward

Tony Kelly (Clare)

It is a real shame that we haven’t seen Tony Kelly in the All-Ireland semi-finals since 2018. Has lit up the opening stages of the championship in the past two years and it is through not fault of his that Clare have fallen before Croke Park in recent years.

Missing out: Jason Forde


Centre-Forward

Cian Lynch (Limerick)

7 August 2021; Cian Lynch of Limerick scores a point after 53 seconds during the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship semi-final match between Limerick and Waterford at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

The best player in the country right now. Everything good about Limerick comes through the Patrickswell man. Hurler of the Year favourite.

Missing out: TJ Reid


Half Forward

Tom Morrissey (Limerick)

The man for the big occasion, has hit over 0-16 in his last three trips to Croke Park. Infallible in front of goals, the younger Morrissey brother looks set to join Dan on two All Star awards, although the full back will have his say on moving to number three.

Missing out: Lee Chin

29 November 2020; Tom Morrissey of Limerick during the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final match between Limerick and Galway at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Corner Forward

Jack O’Connor (Cork)

Arguably the fastest hurler in the country, Jack O’Connor has come into his own after breaking onto the team last year. His speed sets him apart but his finishing is of the highest order as he demonstrated against Kilkenny. All Star wrapped up wit a game to go.

Missing out: Eoin Cody


Full Forward

Seamus Flanagan (Limerick)

The Feonagh Castlemahon is having the season of his life at the edge of the square and has been pretty much unplayable this year. 1-9 from play in three games only tells half the story with Flanagan quickly becoming the main focal point of Limerick’s attack.

Missing out: Patrick Horgan

7 August 2021; Séamus Flanagan of Limerick celebrates after scoring a point for his side during the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship semi-final match between Limerick and Waterford at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Corner Forward

Austin Gleeson (Waterford)

Probably not at the levels of his Hurler of the Year season in 2016, but Austin Gleeson is fully deserving of a second All Star after narrowly missing out in 2020. If Peter Casey is successful in his appeal then the Na Piarsaigh man could pip him or could Patrick Horgan who is hitting top gear after a slow start against Limerick in Munster.

Missing out: Peter Casey

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