WITH Kilmallock crowned Limerick senior hurling champions and preparing for their Munster club battle with Thurles Sarsfields, Jerome O’Connell picks his Limerick SHC team of the season and outlines the reasons for his selections.
Kilmallock dominate the team with six players, while a total of six different clubs are represented. Just three members of John Allen’s 2012 Limerick senior hurling panel are named in the team.
1. Barry Hennessy (Kilmallock)
Was beaten a number of times but with his full back line somewhat uncertain Hennessy came to his side’s rescue a number of times with vital saves. One of the most dedicated club players in the county, his puckouts and use of the sliothar in open play are top class. Na Piarsaigh captain Padraig Kennedy, Brian Murray (Patrickswell), Ahane stalwart Seanie O’Connor and Doon youngster Darragh Stapleton also had their moments of brilliance.
2. Alan Dempsey (Na Piarsaigh)
The Caherdavin men never reached the heights of 2011, but Dempsey was one of those to maintain standards in a defence that was often much changed from their title winning run. Patrickswell’s Paul O’Reilly and Emmets Jimmy Barry Murphy were other tight marking corner backs.
3. David Ryan (Garryspillane)
Switched to the edge of the square from centre back, Ryan was rock solid for The Bouncers. Full back is an area where cover is needed at inter-county level and a look through the clubs will also show a lack of consistency. Bruree’s John O’Brien, Adare’s Mike Clifford and young Mark O’Loughlin (Kilmallock) were others that were vital assets to their sides.
4. Stephen Lavin (Adare)
Holding Graeme Mulcahy is quite an accomplishment. Playing in his sixth county final, Lavin stepped up to the challenge that gave his side a foothold on county final day.
5. Liam Walsh (Kilmallock)
There was much switching and swapping in The Balbec defence but Walsh was Mr Consistency. Bruree’s Shane Mullane was another to enjoy a prominent season in the half back line, as was Adare’s Ross Kennedy, who filled the wing and central positions.
6. Wayne McNamara (Adare)
Played the county final in defence but was a steady influence at centre back in many games, including the semi-final. Held off strong claims from Nickie Quaid (Effin), Brian O’Shea (Knockainey), Peter Lawlor (Croom) and Cathal McNamara (Doon) who all had their moments but not the consistency of McNamara.
7. Diarmuid Byrnes (Patrickswell)
The county minor sparkled in most games for The Well after making his debut in the opening round game. Hopefully one for the future and was selected just ahead of South Liberties Tom Ryan and Kilmallock’s Bryan O’Sullivan.
8. Paudie O’Brien (Kilmallock)
Played a captain’s role all year for the champions and chipped in with 16-points from play to cap a wonderful year all round for the 23 year old. Garryspillane’s James Ryan and Hospital-Herbertstown’s Mark Deegan also caught the eye.
9. Robbie Egan (Kilmallock)
A year after starring as Kilmallock reached the county Junior A league and championship final at centre back, Egan made midfield his own when teamed up with O’Brien. Superb fielding in the county field was a joy to watch.
10. Graeme Mulcahy (Kilmallock)
Scored 6-10 enroute to the county final. Although held scoreless by Stephen Lavin, Mulcahy stepped forward to grab the game by the neck when released to midfield. Aside from his scoring record, Mulcahy’s more often than not fouled for frees and also has a huge assist rate for his side. Bruree’s Kieran O’Dea, Adare’s John Fitzgibbon and Patrickswell’s Mark Carmody are others that filled the wing forward role with some distinction.
11. Damien Moloney (Effin)
What a first year for Effin and Moloney was key to their success. Time after time he popped up with vital goals and points. Certainly the experience of playing previous years with Emmets at senior level stood to him. Kilmallock’s Paudie O’Dwyer, Ahane’s David Laing and Garryspillane’s Danny Hayes were others to impress in certain games, while clearly Declan Hannon held his best for Adare’s county final appearance.
12. Eoin Ryan (Kilmallock)
His switch to the wing from midfield was the final cog in the Kilmallock machine. Ultra reliable from frees and the move allowed him to become somewhat of a play-maker in the attack. Held off strong claims from the scoring machine of Sean Tobin (Murroe-Boher), Garryspillane’s Kieran Hickey and Na Piarsaigh’s Kevin Ryan.
13. Willie Griffin (Adare)
Didn’t feature prominently in the county final but had scored 20 points from play in the five games prior to that as well as chipping in with 17 points from placed balls. Always a threat in the full forward line. Emmets’ Eoin Walsh was another that was a constant scoring threat.
14. Donie Ryan (Garryspillane)
Top scorer in the championship with 1-46. Free-taker and captain of surprise packet Garryspillane but it was his scores from play that inspired his side. Granagh-Ballingarry’s Denis O’Connor was one of the early seasons stars while Kevin O’Donnell relished the move to the edge of the square for Kilmallock.
15. Adrian Breen (Na Piarsaigh)
The top scorer from play in the championship. To out shine Shane Dowling, Kevin Downes and David Breen in the Na Piarsaigh attack is a fine compliment for the U-21 player. Shane O’Donnell was prominent in many games for Kilmallock, while another in the inside line of attack to shine was Doon’s Micheal Ryan.