Picking the 2023 All-Star Hurling Team prior to the All-Ireland Final

Every year, the All-Star debates heats up as teams reach Croke Park with the final four generally dominating the team.

There is only one game remaining in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship as Limerick and Kilkenny remain as the sole teams standing for the second year running.

The Shannonisders were dominant in their win over Galway while Kilkenny were made to work by Clare but in the end had too much for the Munster men for the second successive season.

It has taken 32 games to get this stage with one final outing in store.

Every year, the All-Star debates heats up as teams reach Croke Park with the final four generally dominating the team.

And with one game to play, Jack Neville and Darragh Moloney make their choices on their respective All-Star sides ahead of the final.


Certainties

Overall, there are 11 players chosen on both teams. Two of those come in the full back line where Huw Lawlor and Dan Morrissey have been in scintillating from for the All-Ireland finalists. While both operate generally at #3, both seem certain to be accommodated in the final team. Lawlor was the All-Star last year with Morrissey collecting the gong in 2020.

The half back line is the same across both with the trio of Diarmaid Byrnes, John Conlon and Kyle Hayes the undisputed picks. Byrnes is the current Hurler of the Year and still in the running for the 2023 edition while alongside Hayes, he is aiming for a fourth successive All-Star. Conlon’s previous nod came in 2018 in the full forward line. Diarmaid Ryan’s season coming to an end against Kilkenny rules him out of surpassing Byrnes despite a great year.

28 May 2023; Kyle Hayes of Limerick races clear of Luke Meade of Cork during the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Round 5 match between Limerick and Cork at TUS Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Darragh O’Donovan is a staple in midfield among both teams with the Doon native third in the HOTY betting after winning man of the match in Saturday’s semi-final. O’Donovan was an All-Star in 2021.

“Probably the most underrated player on the team, Darragh O’Donovan showed exactly what he was about in the semi-final despite being without his first choice partner Will O’Donoghue beside him.”

Jack Neville

The duo agree on five of the six forwards with Shane O’Donnell, Tom Morrissey, Aaron Gillane, Eoin Cody and Conor Whelan present among both. The hurler of the year award seems destined to go to either Gillane or Cody who have been sensational so far this year. Former YHOTY Cody is a certainty to win a first All-Star while Gillane is aiming for a fourth overall.

O’Donnell and Whelan have one All-Star already but their seasons came to an end at the weekend. Morrissey has been one of Limerick’s most consistent players and already has a pair of All-Stars.

One man named on both teams that may be in trouble is Galway’s Whelan as Seamus Flanagan is within striking distance following another great game in the win over the Tribesmen. A big final will see him usurp the Kinvara man.

REPRO FREE***PRESS RELEASE NO REPRODUCTION FEE*** EDITORIAL USE ONLY Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Final Media Event 6/4/2023 Pictured is Limerick Senior hurler, Tom Morrissey and Kilkenny Senior hurler, Eoin Cody, who have teamed up with Allianz Insurance today as they look ahead to the upcoming Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Final this weekend. Kilkenny and Limerick have met in five previous Allianz Leagues finals, with Kilkenny winning three to Limerick’s one, while one was drawn. Their most recent meeting was 17 years ago when Kilkenny won by six points. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Debates

The first debate is in the goals but is down to the final goalkeepers remaining, Nickie Quaid and Eoin Murphy. Between them they have won four of the last five awards. Jack is awaiting for the final outcome to decide with the winning team taking the goalkeeper spot on the side. For Darragh, the exploits of Murphy on Sunday edge it.

“Quaid v Murphy I’ve gone with Murphy for that save alone! They both had great years and All-Ireland will decide it.”

Darragh Moloney
GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Quarter-Final, Semple Stadium, Thurles 15/7/2018 Kilkenny vs Limerick Kilkenny’s Eoin Murphy Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

The next difference is in the number #4 jersey which again comes down to All-Ireland final opponents. Clare native Darragh plucks for Barry Nash in the jersey he has held in the last two seasons while Jack just edges for Mikey Butler. Another call that looks like it could be called at the conclusion of net Sunday depending on the result.

It appears to be a battle between William O’Donoghue and David Fitzerald for the other midfield spot beside Darragh O’Donovan. O’Donoghue showed another side to his game on Saturday, playing at centre back in Declan Hannon’s absence with Jack going for the Na Piarsaigh man. Darragh opts for last year’s All-Star Fitzgerald who was once again impressive against Kilkenny.

The other difference is at centre-forward where Moloney goes against his fellow county man Tony Kelly for the #11 jersey, picking the new all-time scorer TJ Reid in that position. Jack opts for Kelly but admits that he is likely to lose out to the Ballhale man after the final.

“Hardest decision here was leaving Tony Kelly out, ultimately he didn’t show up when it mattered and doesn’t deserve a spot.”

Darragh Moloney

Honourable Mentions

As mention above, Seamus Flanagan looks most poised to break into one of those spots in the place of Whelan who was kept quiet in the semi-final. Diarmaid Ryan had a great year but the form of Diarmaid Byrnes will see him miss out on the #5 jersey. Mike Casey is another who has thundered into the championship but Nash and Butler just seem to be ahead in the pecking order.

The margins are fine but a big game in an All-Ireland could sway the decision, although there doesn’t seem to be room for a bolter outside of those named above.


Jack Neville’s All-Star Team So Far

  1. Eoin Murphy / Nickie Quaid (whoever wins All-Ireland)
  2. Huw Lawlor (Kilkenny)*
  3. Dan Morrissey (Limerick)*
  4. Mikey Butler (Kilkenny)
  5. Diarmaid Byrnes (Limerick)*
  6. John Conlon (Clare)*
  7. Kyle Hayes (Limerick)*
  8. Will O’Donoghue (Limerick)
  9. Darragh O’D (Limerick)*
  10. Shane O’Donnell (Clare)*
  11. Tony Kelly (TJ Reid will likely be in after All-Ireland final)
  12. Tom Morrissey (Limerick*)
  13. Aaron Gillane (Limerick)*
  14. Eoin Cody (Kilkenny)*
  15. Conor Whelan (Galway)*

7 Limerick, 3 Kilkenny, 3 Clare, 1 Galway, 1 TBC.


Darragh Moloney All-Star Team So Far

  1. Eoin Murphy (Kilkenny)
  2. Huw Lawlor (Kilkenny)*
  3. Dan Morrissey (Limerick)*
  4. Barry Nash (Limerick)
  5. Diarmaid Byrnes (Limerick)*
  6. John Conlon (Clare)*
  7. Kyle Hayes (Limerick)*
  8. Darragh O’Donovan (Limerick)
  9. David Fitzgerald (Clare)
  10. Shane O’Donnell (Clare)*
  11. TJ Reid (Kilkenny)
  12. Tom Morrissey (Limerick*)
  13. Aaron Gillane (Limerick)*
  14. Eoin Cody (Kilkenny)*
  15. Conor Whelan (Galway)*

7 Limerick, 4 Kilkenny, 3 Clare, 1 Galway.


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