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19 Aug 2022

OPINION: My hurling Team of the Year for the 2022 season - Shane Dowling

OPINION: My hurling Team of the Year for the 2022 season - Shane Dowling

Limerick's Diarmaid Byrnes lifts the Liam MacCarthy Cup after the All-Ireland hurling final

TEAMS of the Year and All-Stars always create healthy debate. My only rule in picking these are that players had to play in the position they are selected in for the majority of the season and players also have to be selected for the earlier games as well as the later fixtures. So here goes.

1. GOALKEEPER:
Nicky Quaid (Limerick)
No debate. Gave an exhibition in the All-Ireland final.

2. RIGHT CORNER BACK:
Mikey Butler (Kilkenny)

Possibly harsh on Sean Finn, but Mikey Butler was an outstanding defender this year and deserves a spot for me.

3. FULL-BACK
Huw Lawlor (Kilkenny)
Had a savage year. A serious defender, as well as hurler. Holding Aaron Gillane the way he did in the final takes work and he did an impressive job.
Limerick's Mike Casey had a great year, especially after his long term injury.

4. LEFT CORNER BACK

Barry Nash (Limerick)
Non-negotiable. Gave an exhibition in most games, as well as being a scoring threat. Has kind of changed the position now a days.

5. RIGHT HALF-BACK
Diarmaid Byrnes (Limerick)
Colossal. The only game where he was average was in the lashing rain of the Munster final, but his long range scoring and his catching was a sight to behold this year.

6. CENTRE HALF-BACK
Declan Hannon (Limerick)
Like a fine wine, getting better with age. His performances this year was like a man possessed and who has won nothing to date. Under-rated, but just class.

7. LEFT HALF-BACK
Fintan Burke (Galway)
This position will be up for debate. Thought he had a very good year and did an awesome job on Gearóid Hegarty in the All-Ireland semi-final.

8. MIDFIELD
David Fitzgerald (Clare)
Showed form this year that we hadn’t seen for a number of years. Was one of Clare's main men throughout the championship and his pace and athleticism from the middle troubled teams.

9. MIDFIELD
Adrian Mullen (Kilkenny)
Was in Hurler of the Year running also up until the All-Ireland final after giving serious displays all year.

10. RIGHT HALF-FORWARD
Gearoid Hegarty (Limerick)
A mixed year, but when it mattered most, he came alive. You could look back over the year and make an argument against, but when you play like he did in an All-Ireland final, there is no debate.

11. CENTRE HALF-FORWARD
TJ Reid (Kilkenny)
Leinster final, All-Ireland semi-final and All-Ireland final Reid was pure class. His fielding, his free taking, his assists, his vision, one of the greatest for sure.
Kyle Hayes was unbelievable in both the semi-final and the final. And stood up when Limerick needed him. But to stick to my principles, he was only there for two games and was below par in the previous games.

12. LEFT HALF-FORWARD
Shane O'Donnell (Clare)
Again this position may cause debate, but Shane O'Donnell was really good for Clare this year. Previously I thought he didn’t score enough, but set up a lot. This his year he was doing both.

13. RIGHT CORNER FORWARD
Aaron Gillane (Limerick)
Kept Limerick in games when other lads were struggling to find form. His All-Ireland final was quiet, but his displays throughout the championship were top notch

14. FULL FORWARD
Conor Whelan (Galway)
At times, I thought Galway used Whelan poorly, and he was left fighting a lone furrow. In the All-Ireland quarter-final against Cork he put on some show, he battled hard and got some great scores in the Leinster final, and he is the fulcrum of Galway's attack. Seamus Flanagan had a mixed year. Injury meant he missed out early and he came alive in the Munster final and the first half of the All-Ireland semi final, and throughout the coursre of the year I think Whelan did more.

15. LEFT CORNER FORWARD
Tony Kelly (Clare)
Yes, his All-Ireland semi-final was poor, but when Clare's need was greatest in the All-Ireland quarter final late on he came alive and in the Munster championship he was very good.

MY HURLER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES

1. Declan Hannon
2. Barry Nash
3. Diarmuid Byrnes
Coming into the All-Ireland final, I would have had Barry Nash as favourite. But I have been so impressed with Diarmaid Byrnes all year, it’s a no-brainer for me.
The Patrickswell man has grown so much over the year, I hope he gets the nod on the night of the All-Stars.
I don’t think Declan Hannon will be nominated, but for me he should be every day of the week. Everybody will know why I say that. He does things so easy people don’t even realise. He doesn’t make mistakes, he is very calculated, a real leader.

So, that’s brings another end to my weekly articles. I hope everybody enjoyed them throughout the championship.
At the start I would have said Limerick will need everything to fall right for them to do three-in-a-row, and as it turned out, a lot went wrong and they still dug it out. What a group!
And it gives us real reason to have a large grin on our faces come the turn of the New Year. Before that, we all turn our attentions to club championship this weekend, and I think its fair to say, none of us can wait for that.

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