Combined Kilkenny/Tipperary team
Goalkeeper: Eoin Murphy (Kilkenny)
Both keepers are after having a good year so far without having to make many big saves. I would be in favour of Eoin Murphy, as his last minute super catch ensured the Cats reached another All Ireland final and he is quicker off his line than Gleeson.
Right corner back: Paul Murphy (Kilkenny)
The most consistent corner back in the game. Rarely has a bad game for the cats. He has serious power and pace and every corner forward has to earn a score off Murphy.
Full Back: James Barry (Tipperary)
He has had a very good year so far. The big test will come in the final if Colin Fennelly gets a good supply of ball. Joey Holden has improved as the year has gone on but Barry has been over all more consistent.
Left Corner back: Cathal Barrett (Tipperary)
I have moved Cathal from his normal number 2 position. Barrett was one of the favourites for hurler of the year before the semi-final but Conor Cooney gave him a lot of trouble in the semi-final. I wonder will Kilkenny employ a similar tactic of hitting in high ball on top of him as he struggled against Cooney in the air. Not many corner forwards have been successful beating Barrett to a low ball. A decent All Ireland display will see him get an All Star.
Right half back: Padraig Walsh (Kilkenny)
Tommy Walsh was probably the best number 5 we have ever seen in hurling. Little did we know that his brother Padraig is just as good. He is great in the air and loves to attack from wing back – also likely to chip in with a point or two for Kilkenny.
Centre back: Padraic Maher (Tipperary)
This has not been his position all year but we had to fit him in. His younger brother Ronan is very unlucky to lose out here. Padraic has had a tremendous year. The hook on Conor Cooney was crucial against Galway. He has scored from play in every game so far this year. His distribution has improved from previous seasons.
Left half back: Cillian Buckley (Kilkenny)
Buckley has been a revelation since he made the number 7 jersey his own for Kilkenny. He has played in midfield and half forward for Kilkenny but it is at number 7 that he has been at his best. Brick Walsh gave him a bit of trouble in the opening half of the semi-final but he got to grips with him and was crucial in helping Kilkenny beat the Deise men.
Midfielders: Conor Fogarty & Michael Fennelly (Both Kilkenny)
I found it very difficult to pick two of these out of four exceptional hurlers. Conor Fogarty is an unsung hero in the Kilkenny team. Man of the match in the Leinster final, he was quiet against Waterford the first day but still scored the equalizing point. He found it tough going on Austin Gleeson in the replay but who wouldn’t? Michael Fennelly was a cert, there are no better midfielders around. Kilkenny will miss him hugely in the final. Michael Breen has had a great year so far. He has scored 3 goals from Midfield. I find it hard to leave him out of this team. Brendan Maher is a good hurler but on current form, I would have the other 3 players ahead of him.
Right half forward: Richie Hogan (Kilkenny)
One of the best forwards in the country. He consistently picks off points from play. He would be an automatic on every team in the country. He is currently favourite for hurler of the year.
Centre forward: Patrick “Bonner” Maher (Tipperary)
Every team needs a “Bonner”. His work-rate is crucial to any team. Michael Ryan has decided to change the dynamic of the Tipperary forwards, he has gone the Kilkenny route where work-rate is just as important as skill. The Tipperary forwards are better with Bonner in the team and no centre back has an easy time when marking him. He won’t shoot the lights out like Callanan and Bubbles but he is just as effective and important.
Left half forward: TJ Reid (Kilkenny)
The 2014 hurler of the year has struggled for his best form in the championship but I still think he would be an automatic in any team. He was in great form during the league, by far Kilkenny’s best player. He only had 4 possessions in the drawn game against Waterford. Bar his free taking he hasn’t been the TJ Reid of 2014. There is a massive game in him and Tipperary will be very aware of that.
Right corner forward: John McGrath (Tipperary)
If it wasn’t for Austin Gleeson, McGrath would be the most talked about hurler in the country right now. He has been a massive addition to the Tipp forward line. He has a great eye for goal and is very unselfish in his general play. He scored 3 goals in the Munster final and scored the crucial goal against Galway. Kilkenny will have to keep a good eye on him.
Full Forward: Seamus Callanan (Tipperary)
The best full forward in the game. He hasn’t hit the heights of last year but again he is capable of having a big day. He is the best goal scorer in the game. He was held scoreless in the semi-final but I have a feeling he won’t be held scoreless on the 4th of September. He is a class act!
Left corner forward: John “Bubbles” O Dwyer (Tipperary)
Another class act. Surprisingly left out of the Tipperary team the last day. Michael Ryan took a big gamble. He has a great eye for goal and can score a point from any angle. He will definitely start the next day and will be keen to make amends for the Munster final.
The unlucky ones………………
Michael Breen is very unlucky not to be included. He has had a fantastic year. Colin Fennelly had a great game against Waterford but he had been struggling for form up to that game. Walter Walsh has had his most consistent year for the cats but it’s hard to take out any of the above forwards. Ronan Maher has been excellent at centre back for Tipp and if he has a decent All Ireland, he will be an All-Star.
What team would you pick? Do you agree/disagree with the above team?
Written by: Hurler on the ditch