Now that the main inter-county season has ended and the local club championships are ebbing towards a finale, GAA news can sometimes be a little scare at this time of the year. That, though, was not the case during the past week.
The 2012 GAA Hurling All-Stars generated plenty of debate when they were announced last Friday night. The big surprise was the awarding of six statuettes to Galway, with All-Ireland champions Kilkenny receiving five awards.
The same fate befell Kilkenny back in the early seventies when Limerick received one more award than the then reigning All-Ireland champions Kilkenny.
Firstly, I would like to congratulate our five award winners. All were certainties to claim statuettes and three actually received the maximum votes available from the selectors.
There was plenty of disappointment that Kilkenny did not get one or two more awards, but I suspected that six would have been our maximum return given the tone of media articles over recent months.
I was a little surprised, though, to see Galway get one more award than Kilkenny, given the fact that the Cats ended the year as All-Ireland and League champions.
I am pleased to see the Leinster Championship and the Leinster Final in particular receiving such elevated consideration from the All-Star selectors.
The selection of David Collins at left half back was, in my view, a surprise as I felt that Paraic Maher had another outstanding year.
How Tipperary, as Munster Champions, were not worthy of even one award is perplexing. The selection criteria for omitting Tipperary was as flawed as that which failed to nominate Shane Dowling (Limerick) and especially Shane Dooley (Offaly.
While I was surprised at the selection of Damien Hayes (Galway) at left half forward, I was a little more sympathetic to the Galway player’s claim after a ‘discussion’ with a member of the media.
One statistic, though, relating to the selection of the six forwards, three of whom came from Galway is worthy of note.
Over the two All-Ireland Final days Galway used nine different players in attacking positions. Only four of those players scored over the two games and one of those was a substitute.
All-Star selections create a bit of a fuss for a week or two and are then forgotten, but perhaps not by the players who have been edged out in a marginal call.
To have the All-Ireland and League trophies resting by the Nore is ample proof that Kilkenny had twenty plus All-Stars this year.
It must be acknowledged that Galway was not that far behind Kilkenny this year and it would be very wrong to begrudge the Tribesmen their six awards.
Without doubt they pose the strongest threat to Kilkenny retaining the All-Ireland title next year.
Henry Shefflin’s achievement in winning his eleventh All-Star award plus his third Player of the Year Award is a remarkable fete.
But then again he is a remarkable individual and he appears willing and ready to don the Black & Amber again in 2013. That’s good news for everyone!
Lar and his memoirs
It turned out to be an interesting week for Tipperary GAA supporters. While they would be justifiably annoyed at receiving no All-Star award, I suspect for some it was a reflection of a disappointing year, even if the Munster title was retained.
In many ways this is not a bad starting point for new Manager Eamonn O’Shea. However, he could have done without the publication of Lar Corbett’s autobiography.
Let me say that I have not read the book, but the extracts in a Sunday newspaper were sufficient to know that it might have been wiser to defer the publication.
Lar’s weekly newspaper column (which is ghost-written by a local journalist) does him no favours either with Tipperary supporters.
If Lar has ambitions to be part of Eamonn O’Shea’s new panel the only place to do the talking is on the pitch.
Somehow I suspect that message will be relayed very clearly to every member of next year’s Tipperary panel very soon by the new manager.
A competition that refuses to die
I was not surprised that Central Council decided to retain the Inter-Provincial competitions (better known as the Railway Cups). This competition refuses to die even though supporters around the country show little interest in attending games.
Recently some senior GAA people were asked to explore the viability of the competition and came to the conclusion that no suitable date could be found.
Despite that, it goes ahead again next February and the same few hardy diehards will, no doubt, turn up to watch the games.
Oh, I should also say that the exercise will cost at least €50,000. I know a few good GAA projects that could badly do with that sort of money!
Double joy for Paul Murphy
Back to the All-Stars and I have a gem of a story which I want to share with our readers. When Donegal won its first All-Ireland title in 1992 they were captained by midfielder Anthony Molloy.
Molloy was invited to present the Footballer of the Year awards at last Friday night’s All-Star ceremony.
What he did not know was that as he was reaching the pinnacle of his football career in 1992 a young lad from Kilkenny was in awe of the Donegal star and adorned his bedroom wall with Molloy and the Sam Maguire Cup.
The prospects of that young boy ever playing in an All-Ireland Football Final were nil, but try telling that to a four year old!
That young boy has now played in two All-Ireland Hurling Finals (three if one counts a replay) and he collected his second All-Star award last Friday night.
When I approached Anthony to explain that he was Paul Murphy’s boyhood hero and that Paul and his mother Marian would like to meet him, I know he was really chuffed.
They met and spoke privately. The photo of the former and current inter-county stars can now adorn the sideboard in the Murphy household.
It was a wonderful ending to an emotional evening for Paul and his mum Marian.