I SUSPECT it was a pretty quick meeting when the GAA All-Star selection committee sat down last week to pick the 45 nominees for the 2011 hurling All-Stars. When the same selectors sit down in a couple of weeks to pick the final XV All-Stars it should not take them too long either.
Kilkenny’s 14 nominations should come as no surprise. The odd man out, Eddie Brennan, can feel justifiably disappointed at his omission. While Kilkenny were well beaten by Dublin in the National League final, Brennan was, by some distance, the Cats best player over the eight games.
When afforded an opportunity to bring his vast experience to All-Ireland final day, he did not let his county down. His blistering run in the second half to set up a smashing goal for Richie Hogan was a defining moment in the game.
Brennan’s omission was probably a close call between himself and Galway’s Joe Canning. The Portumna player had a very modest year, by his own high standards, and perhaps that sublime reverse pass against Cork may have been the deciding factor that won Canning the nomination.
Tipperary, along with Kilkenny, were always going to supply the bulk of the nominations and Dublin’s wonderful 2011was rightly rewarded with 10 nominations.
No one from Cork, Clare
The absence of any All-Star nominees from Cork, Clare, Wexford or Offaly is a reflection on the disappointing 2011 which these counties experienced. For Cork, in particular, it goes to show the major task which new manager Jimmy Barry Murphy has on his hands to make the Rebels a serious force again.
Getting an All-Star nomination is a great honour for any player, but receiving the statuette on Friday, October 21 is a personal milestone for every hurler lucky enough to be selected. Everyone likes to speculate on the final XV, but agreement with the media selection is never universal.
The one certainty is that Kilkenny players will once again dominate the 2011 All-Star selection. The Cats will get a minimum of seven awards and maybe even eight. John Mullane’s nomination in the full-forward line means attacking places are up for grabs at right half forward and left full forward.
Dublin will probably feel they deserve one attacking spot. That was probably wrapped up by Conal Keaney prior to his injury. Ryan O’Dwyer is now the leading Dublin contender, although the case for Paul Ryan is also strong.
With Richie Power, Henry Shefflin, Lar Corbett and John Mullane certainties to receive awards, O’Dwyer and Ryan from Dublin will vie with Kilkenny’s Michael Rice and Richie Hogan for the remaining two attacking slots.
My gut feeling is that the media selectors will opt for one from Kilkenny and the other from Dublin.
I expect the following team to be announced in a couple of weeks - Gary Maguire (Dublin); Paul Murphy (Kilkenny); Paul Curran (Tipperary); Peter Kelly (Dublin); Tommy Walsh (Kilkenny); Brian Hogan (Kilkenny); Paraic Maher (Tipperary); Michael Fennelly (Kilkenny); Liam Rushe (Dublin); Ryan O’Dwyer (Dublin); Richie Power (Kilkenny); Henry Shefflin (Kilkenny); John Mullane (Waterford); Lar Corbett (Tipperary); Richie Hogan (Kilkenny).
The breakdown then would be - 7 to Kilkenny; 3 to Tipperary; 4 to Dublin and 1 to Waterford.