Now that the All-Ireland hurling final has been decided with Kilkenny’s win over Galway yesterday, we decided to have our go at selecting the annual hurling team of the year.
This year’s Championship saw some great hurling as usual and there was a major upset in Leinster where Galway won their first ever Leinster title courtesy of a win over Kilkenny.
The Cats eventually got their own back although they had to go through a replay to decide it as both teams ended all square on the 9th September thanks to Joe Canning’s injury time free.
Elsewhere we saw another competitive Munster Championship as Tipperary first had to down Cork before beating Waterford to secure a 40th Munster hurling title.
The game against Cork was one of the games of the year and we saw some young stars in the making from both teams in Cork that day including the exciting Conor Lehane.
Anyway, the final has been decided, the season is over and it’s time for the club championships to take centre stage. However, before that take a look at our picks below for SportsNewsIRELAND’s Hurling Team Of The Year.
SportsNewsIreland’s Hurling Team of the Year 2012
GOALKEEPER: James Skehill (Galway) – Skehill has been in fantastic form for Galway this season, playing a crucial part in winning Leinster and drawing the All-Ireland final. The Cappataggle man was solid in both games, producing a wonder-save to secure a replay in the All-Ireland final. He was not 100% during the the first half of the final and had to go of injured due to his shoulder injury.
RIGHT CORNER-BACK: Paul Murphy (Kilkenny) – For a 23-year old to have two All-Ireland hurling titles already speaks volumes. Murphy has been a revelation in the last few years and the Kilkenny defence will be safe for another few years yet with Murphy around.
FULL BACK: JJ Delaney (Kilkenny) – The master under the high ball, JJ Delaney play is so rounded at times it looks like he’s picking apples. His ability to give the forwards the appropriate ball into space or hand is vital to this Kilkenny machine.
LEFT CORNER-BACK: Fergal Moore (Galway) – A season that started with so much promise got even better with victory in the Leinster Championship but unfortunately for Moore he was on the losing side in Sunday’s final. He did not disgrace himself in either the final or replay and he can hold his head up high as a Leinster-winning captain this season.
RIGHT HALF-BACK: Tommy Walsh (Kilkenny) – Tullaroan man Walsh secured his seventh All-Ireland title in style as his Kilkenny team-mates produced an efficient defensive display to keep Galway at bay. Also showed magnificent discipline to stay on the pitch in the semi-final with Tipperary, as he was involved in Lar Corbett’s bemusing gamesmanship. A great leader and well deserving of a place in the team.
CENTRE BACK: Brian Hogan (Kilkenny) – Hogan’s assured display at the heart of the Cats’ defence was one of the big reasons why the replay swung Kilkenny’s way. An imposing figure, Hogan is also comfortable running the ball from defence and his willingness to play from the back proved to difficult for Galway to deal with in the replay.
LEFT HALF-BACK: Padraic Maher (Tipperary) – Maher will be disappointed that he didn’t appear in an All-Ireland final this year having played so well in The Championship. That may be down to the fact that his attacking team-mates let him down in the semi-final with Kilkenny as Tipp became more focused on riling the Cats’ defence rather than focussing on their own game. Maher’s energetic application to the game helped bring Tipperary a 40th Munster title this season.
MIDFIELD: Iarla Tannian (Galway) – Galway’s midfield completely dominated Kilkenny in the Leinster final and a lot of that was down to Tannian’s enforcement. The midfielder produced a replica display in the All-Ireland final although following the replay he was unable to impose his play on the game as Kilkenny ran out winners. Still had an impressive season in maroon and white and will now look forward to next season with the experience of two All-Ireland finals under his belt.
MIDFIELD: Kevin Moran (Waterford) – A surprising choice perhaps but De La Salle man Moran played his part this summer as Waterford reached the Munster final before losing to Tipperary. However, this year’s final was a lot closer than the trouncing the Deise received the year before and Moran’s man of the match display was a signifier of that. Whilst primarily a half-back, Moran more than held his own in midfield this season and was a bright spark for Waterford before the season ended with a quarter-final defeat to Cork.
RIGHT HALF-FORWARD: TJ Reid (Kilkenny) – Reid’s brace of goals in the semi-final with Tipperary effectively killed the game as a contest due to the timing of the strikes. The goals showed the potency of the Kilkenny forward and mature displays in the final and replay showed why Reid is still one of those players’ inter-county defences have to watch like a hawk for the whole 70 minutes.
LEFT HALF-FORWARD: Patrick Horgan (Cork) – A fantastic haul of 11 points couldn’t save Cork from defeat to Tipperary in the Munster semi-final but little blame can be laid at the hands of the Glen Rovers man. Horgan has had his shooting boots on this summer and whilst he did amass a number of wides like any forward he still proved to be Cork’s most dangerous forward this season. 1-24 in The Championship may show that he still needs to add goals to his game, but the 25-year old had a good season for the Leesiders and will hope to improve on that tally next year.
CENTRE FORWARD: Henry Shefflin (Kilkenny) – 12 Leinster titles. 9 All-Ireland titles. 10 All-Star awards. Simply the greatest play of the modern era bar none. Henry Shefflin has come through two career-threatening injuries and this season the King looked back to his best almost, although naturally most accept his peak has come and gone. Shefflin was instrumental in the replay just as he was in the final and Kilkenny will hope he can continue for a year or two yet.
RIGHT HALF-FORWARD: Pa Bourke (Tipperary) – Bourke managed an impressive 1-8 despite losing to Kilkenny in the All-Ireland final and had Lar Corbett been interested in playing hurling it might have been so different for Tipperary this summer. Bourke’s ability to put the ball over the bar from a variety of angles was instrumental in Tipperary’s 40th Leinster title success this year.
LEFT HALF-FORWARD: Richie Power (Kilkenny) – Carrickshock forward Power had a solid season in the amber and black of Kilkenny, producing when it mattered including a fine goal in the replayed final as the 26-year old helped see off the Galway challenge. Power is a lethal forward and when he was on form this summer there were few better.
FULL FORWARD: Joe Canning (Galway) – Canning wasn’t able to produce a match-winning performance in the replay on Sunday but his worth to Galway was underlined this season with victory in Leinster. That win was down to the sheer tenacity of the Portumna forward who hustled and harried the Kilkenny back-line to breaking point. He produced a solid performance in the drawn final including showing nerves of steel to take the tie to a replay with an added-time free. Canning has been one of the best forwards in Ireland this season and his stock has most definitely risen due to his exerts this year.