Clare’s march to victory in this year’s Bord Gáis Energy GAA Hurling U-21 All-Ireland Championship has seen three Banner players nominated for the Breaking Through Player of the Year award.
The three players are half backs Patrick O’Connor and Seadna Morey and half forward Tony Kelly. Also shortlisted are the Kilkenny duo of Ger Aylward and Walter Walsh, with Tipperary’s John O’Dwyer completing the list of contenders for the honour.
The Breaking Through Player of the Year award recognises the overall stand out player of the 2012 U-21 All-Ireland Championship. A panel made up of Bord Gáis Energy Sports Ambassador and Cork selector, Ger Cunningham, Micheál Ó Dómhnaill of TG4, Bord Gáis Energy Ambassador Joe Canning and former Waterford great Ken McGrath will deliberate on the nominees before announcing a winner.
The winning player will receive a trophy and voucher worth €1000 to mark his achievement.
Speaking about the award, Ger Cunningham said, “Bord Gáis Energy is delighted to be able to recognise the talent of our U-21 hurlers with the Breaking Through Player of the Year Award and once again this year it was a difficult task even agreeing on a shortlist of six.
“Team sports is of course all about the 15 players and the panel around them but the Breaking Through Player of the Year Award we feel adds a special element to the Championship in acknowledging one stand out performer.
“There is no doubt that this year’s Championship has produced hurling of the very highest order, generating plenty of thrilling clashes and talking points. Whoever the judging panel eventually picks as the winner will thoroughly deserve it and I wish all six players the best of luck.”
Unsurprisingly, All-Ireland Champions Clare dominate the list of nominees with three in total. Half backs Patrick O’Connor and Seadna Morey were instrumental in curbing the considerable threats of the Waterford, Tipperary and Kilkenny forward units. Ballyea’s Tony Kelly was a key figure in their half forward line producing a number of stunning performances and being clinical from play or from placed balls.
Leinster Champions and All-Ireland finalists Kilkenny certainly had a year to remember. Having been idle in Leinster for a number of years they finally regained the Leinster title against surprise finalists Laois, before dispatching reigning champions Galway in an exhilarating Semi-Final. For their efforts, forwards Ger Aylward and Walter Walsh have been nominated for a number of eye catching performances for the Cats.
The final nominee is Killenaule clubman and Tipperary captain, John O’Dwyer. Another player to lead by example from the half forward line, he was to the fore in everything Tipperary did well in 2012 and was a driving force behind notable wins over Cork and Limerick.
The winner will be announced in the coming weeks.
Bord Gáis Energy Breaking Through Player of the Year Shortlist:
John O’Dwyer (Tipperary)
Patrick O’Connor (Clare)
Seadna Morey (Clare)
Tony Kelly (Clare)
Ger Aylward (Kilkenny)
Walter Walsh (Kilkenny)