So another Allianz Hurling League comes to an end and Kilkenny are crowned champions for the 18th time. Having looked at the games throughout the last few months I have decided to come up with my team of the Allianz league campaign for 2018.
1: Eoin Murphy (Kilkenny) – hard to argue with the inclusion of Murphy on the team, although Wexford’s Mark Fanning probably pushed him close. Murphy made some superb saves throughout the league campaign. Also scored some massive points from frees.
2: Paddy Deegan (Kilkenny) – Absolute stormer in the full back line in the league final. He made some great catches, set up numerous attacks and kept calm under pressure which is of course important for a defender.
3: Liam Ryan (Wexford) – Difficult decision as we left out Padraig Walsh here, but Ryan was superb throughout the league campaign for Wexford. His bursting runs forward were key to Wexford reaching a semi-final.
4: Alan Flynn (Tipperary) – Another corner back who gave some great performances in the league. Was cool, calm and collected in the Tipperary defence in the league final and men were even switched onto him. Could have a big summer for Tipperary.
5: Padraic Maher (Tipperary) – Superb is the only word to describe Maher. His leadership inspires the team around him, his aerial ability and power scares the opposition. An all-star player in this position many a time, Maher is so consistent and deserves his place on the team.
6: Cillian Buckley (Kilkenny) – Solid in the centre back spot all year round and again a consistent hurler that never seems to play a bad game in the Black and Amber. One of the best players in the game at present and is equally adaptable at playing wing back and midfield.
7: Paudie Foley (Wexford) – The Crossabeg/Ballymurn ma lorded it in the Wexford half back line. Put in a massive performance against Clare in what was his best game I have seen him play in the Wexford jersey. A tough no nonsense defender.
8: Ronan Maher (Tipperary): He just must be on the team after his performances. His accuracy from the side-line cut was showcased in several games. Superb against Limerick in the league semi-final offers options going back and forward and like his brother tough as nails.
9: Cian Lynch (Limerick): Tough choice between Lynch and Kevin Foley from Wexford. However, Lynch gets the nod on this occasion. Clever on and off the ball, a silky wristy hurler and has pace as well which is obviously key.
10: Aaron Gillane (Limerick): Another Limerick under age star has came to prominence in this league campaign and Gillane to be fair has it all. Can score from anywhere on the field and is also capable of popping up with a goal which coming into championship will be crucial.
11: TJ Reid (Kilkenny): After his performance in the league final he is now favourite for hurler of the year. He was superb in the league final and the league semi-final to be fair. He has everything strength, speed, first touch most of all he is a leader, get Richie Hogan back and imagine the Kilkenny forward line!
12: John McGrath (Tipperary): The younger brother of Noel. He is a score getter for sure, he has speed, skill and of course confidence of having a go. A key part of Michael Ryan’s team.
13: Rory O’Connor (Wexford): Has to be in team considering his performance alone against Kilkenny. He is a type of hurler that gives his all and that’s all you can ask, a Davy Fitz type player if you ask me !
14 Jason Forde (Tipperary): Filled the big boots of Seamus Callanan in the league due to the Drom & Inch man picking up an injury last year. His performances have been nothing short of outstanding. Racked up big scores as well and obviously has a very keen eye for a goal as well.
15 Walter Walsh (Tipperary): Impressive for Brian Cody. Again, Cody expects his forwards to basically be defenders in terms of hooking, blocking and not letting the defender win the battle. Walsh had an outstanding campaign and scored a crucial goal in the league final against Tipperary.