Tomorrow night will mark the 50th edition of the GAA’s All-Star awards that recognises the achievements of the outstanding players from the previous Gaelic Football and Hurling seasons.
First introduced in 1971, the awards have come to resemble excellence on the playing field and is one of the pinnacles of an individuals career.
Since its inception 50 years ago, 32 Limerick men have combined to receive 55 awards for the Shannonsiders.
Incredibly, Cian Lynch is the only Limerick man to win the Hurler of the Year award but that is likely to change with Gearoid Hegarty a shoo-in for the 2020 award.
1970’s and 80’s
Pat Hartigan was Limerick’s first recipient in 1971 as he was rewarded “for his contribution as one of the mainstays of Limerick’s resurgence in 1971. At full back he showed unyielding stubbornness under the heaviest of pressure.” He was joined on the 1971 edition by Eamonn Cregan who was selected “for his speed, elusiveness and powerful shot which unite to make him one of the most successful score-getters of modern times. His effectiveness was strikingly emphasised during 1971.”
The duo were once more selected in 1972 as Limerick’s sole representatives.
The All-Ireland win in 1973 saw five Limerick players chosen. Hartigan received his third successive award and was joined by first time winners, Jim O’Brien, Sean Foley, Richie Bennis and Eamonn Grimes.
It was four on the trot for Hartigan in 1974 as he was joined by Joe McKenna who would become Limerick’s most decorated All-Star, with Limerick defeated by Kilkenny in the All-Ireland final.
Hartigan won his fifth successive and last All-Star in 1975 with McKenna and Grimes both collecting their second award.
1976 was the first year Limerick didn’t receive an award with Joe McKenna’s selection on the 1978 team the next All-Star brought back to the Treaty.
McKenna won his fourth over all the next year in 1979 and made it three on the trot the following season.
He was joined on the 1980‘s side by Leonard Enright and Eamonn Cregan who won his third All-Star, eight years after winning his second, as Limerick lost out in the All-Ireland final to Galway.
Joe McKenna passed Hartigan’s mark of five awards in 1981 as he collected a sixth All-Star. He was chosen alongside Enright who earned his second in a row and Liam O’Donoghue.
1982 yielded no Limerick winners with Enright collecting his third in 1983.
The following year in 1984, Paudie Fitzmaurice and Paddy Kelly were first time All-Stars.
It would be seven more years before Limerick collected their next All-Star with Gary Kirby chosen on the 1991 side.
Ciaran Carey and Tommy Quaid followed suit in 1992.
Tommy’s cousin Joe was Limerick’s next recipient in 1994 where he was joined by Dave Clarke, Carey, Mike Houlihan, Kirby and Damien Quigley with Limerick falling to Offaly in the All-Ireland final.
Kirby was Limerick’s only recipient in 1995 and the Patrickswell man earned his third on the trot and fourth overall the following year. He was chosen on the 1996 side alongside Quaid (2), Carey (3), Houlihan (2) and Limerick’s first ever Young Hurler of the Year Mark Foley.
Foley would earn Limerick’s next award five years later in 2001.
There would be another lengthy wait for the Shannonsiders as Brian Murray was next selected in the 2007 team alongside teammates Ollie Moran and Andrew O’Shaughnessy as Limerick lost out in the All-Ireland final to Kilkenny. Seamus Hickey was named as Limerick’s second ever Young Hurler of the Year
After helping Limerick to a first Munster title in 19 years, Richie McCarthy was chosen on the 2013 All Star team.
The following year, Seamus Hickey and Shane Dowling were chosen on the 2014 vintage.
It would be four years before Limerick next claimed an award with the 2018 side matching the 1994 team who had six representatives.
Making the cut in 2018 were first time recipients Sean Finn, Richie Englsh, Declan Hannon, Dan Morrissey, Cian Lynch and Graeme Mulcahy as Limerick ended a 45 year wait for All-Ireland honours. Kyle Hayes was also selected as Young Hurler of the Year
Finn made it two in a row in 2019 and was joined by first time All-Star Aaron Gillane.
Limerick have fourteen players nominated for the 2020 awards with Gearoid Hegarty a certain to earn his first as a nomination for Hurler of the Year. Sean Finn seems a certainty to win his third in a row and become only the third Limerick man to do so.
Nickie Quaid, Diarmaid Byrnes, Kyle Hayes and Tom Morrissey are all set to receive a first All-Star also.
Limerick’s All Star Hurlers
6. Joe McKenna (1974, 75′, 78′, 79′, 80′, 81′)
5. Pat Hartigan (1971, 72′, 72′, 74′, 75′)
4. Gary Kirby (1991, 94′, 95′, 96′)
3. Ciaran Carey (1992, 94′, 96′)
Eamonn Cregan (1971, 72′, 80′)
Leonard Enight (1980, 81′, 83′)
2. Sean Finn (2018, 19′)
Mark Foley (1994, 01′)
Eamonn Grimes (1973, 75′)
Mike Houlihan (1994, 96′)
Joe Quaid (1994, 96′)
1.Richie Bennis (1973)
Dave Clarke (1994)
Shane Dowling (2014)
Richie English (2018)
Paudie Fitzmaurice (1984)
Sean Foley (1973)
Aaron Gillane (2019)
Declan Hannon (2018)
Seamus Hickey (2014)
Paddy Kelly (1984)
Cian Lynch (2018)
Richie McCarthy (2013)
Ollie Moran (2007)
Dan Morrissey (2018)
Graeme Mulcahy (2018)
Brian Murray (2007)
Jim O’Brien (1973)
Liam O’Donoghue (1981)
Andrew O’Shaughnessy (2007)
Tommy Quaid (1992)
Damien Quigley (1994)