For years great defensive displays and great defenders in general may have gone unheralded in their recognition by the wider GAA fanbase but the five men below are changing that viewpoint. Here we rank five of the best defenders in hurling today.
Padraic Maher (Tipperary)
The iron man of the Tipp defence, six time All-Star Padraic Maher has been a shining light for Tipperary since he made his debut in 2009.
In that time Tipperary have played 54 Championship matches and the Thurles Sarsfields defender hasn’t missed any of them, starting all 54.
His ability under a high ball is sensational, as his ability to read the game from the half back line, while his ability to pop up with scores on a consistent level mark him out as one of the hurlers of his generation
Daithi Burke (Galway)
Without doubt the best full back in hurling over the last few years the powerful Turloughmore man was a major reason in Galway finally bringing the Liam McCarthy back west in 2017.
His arrival at full back in the Galway team finally ended the county’s search for a player to fill the position that had troubled them for years.
His performances brought him four consecutive All-Stars between 2015 and 2018, and he managed to keep Seamus Callanan scoreless from play in the 2016 All Ireland semi final.
Not many can say that.
Brendan Maher (Tipperary)
What a last 12 months the Borrisoleigh man has had in a club and county jersey.
To come back from a cruciate injury and put in the kind of performances he did for Tipperary as they claimed the All Ireland once again really is a mark of the greatness of the player.
He was also an instrumental part of his club’s county and provincial success and was named club hurler of the year for his exploits.
Padraig Walsh (Kilkenny)
An all round brilliant hurler. Every team would love to have a player like the Tullaroan man.
A two time All-Star, the brother of former Kilkenny star Tommy is now the glue which holds the Kilkenny defence together.
Designated to fill the problem position of full back for a couple of seasons before Hugh Lawlor’s introduction, Brian Cody now has the luxury of using Walsh out the field.
Here his defensive instincts matched by very few in the game can be used to great effect in bringing solidity to the Cats defence.
Sean Finn (Limerick)
One of the best man markers in hurling Finn has won consecutive All-Stars in 2018 and 2019 for his classy and dominating performances in the Limerick defence.
What makes the Bruff man so good at what he does is the versatility he can show in his defensive play.
He can compete for a high ball with just about anyone, he revels when the ball is played in low against him and he invariably makes the right decision when in possession of the ball and helping his side go on the attack from deep.
His understanding with Mike Casey and Richie English mean Finn is part of one of the most formidable full back lines in hurling today.