All Starry Starry Night


With the lack of Cork representation in this year’s GAA All Stars awards causing debate, Micheal Halton discusses these controversial choices

The 2010 GAA Vodafone All Stars were revealed on Friday evening with All-Ireland finalists Tipperary and Kilkenny, as expected, dominating the hurling awards. However, All-Ireland football champions Cork will be entitled to feel more than a little aggrieved after receiving just four awards, with none of their forwards receiving an honour – something that has never happened with respect to a championship-winning team.

Hurling champions Tipperary claimed six All Stars at the award ceremony in the Citywest Hotel, with Lar Corbett receiving the Hurler of the Year Award, along with an All Star at right half forward. Corbett’s three goal salvo in the All-Ireland Final was crucial to bringing the Liam McCarthy Cup to Tipperary for the first time since 2001. Tipperary’s all-time leading Championship scorer, Eoin Kelly, received his sixth All Star at right corner forward.

Brendan Maher and Paul Curran collected their first All Stars, with Maher also collecting the Young Hurler of the year award. Meanwhile, Tipperary’s Brendan Cummins received his fifth award, ten years after winning his first in 2000.

Tipperary’s final All Star went to last year’s Young Hurler of the Year, Noel McGrath, who claimed the centre forward berth. McGrath’s move from corner forward to a more central role was pivotal, as Tipperary recovered from an opening day defeat to Cork, to claim All-Ireland glory.

Kilkenny were next in line in terms of recipients. Tommy Walsh received his eighth award in succession – placing him only one behind fellow Kilkenny men and legends of the game DJ Carey and Henry Shefflin who have each earned nine All Star Awards.

Shefflin’s forward colleague Richie Power claimed his first All Star in the full forward position after a brilliant year. Michael Fennelly, last year’s All-Ireland winning captain, secured his first All Star. Jackie Tyrell and J.J. Delaney received awards at corner back and wing back respectively with Delaney claiming his fifth award and Tyrell claiming his fourth in a row.

Damien Hayes at wing forward was Galway’s sole recipient while Noel Connors at corner back, Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh at centre back and John Mullane in the corner forward position were Waterford’s three representatives. For Connors it was his first All Star Award while Walsh was receiving his third. Mullane claimed the corner forward position for the second year in succession.

The 2010 Football All Stars had a wider distribution, with eight counties from all four provinces receiving awards. Down secured the same number of awards as Cork with four All Stars. Kildare received two while Kerry, Sligo, Tyrone, Louth and Dublin gained one apiece.

This was a year of change in football which is reflected by the eleven newcomers to the All Stars roll of honour. Paddy Keenan’s selection at midfield represented Louth’s first ever All Star since the awards were introduced in 1971. This will be small consolation for the St. Patrick’s Lordship clubman after Louth were controversially denied their first Leinster title since 1957.

Michael Shields, Paudie Kissane, Graham Canty and Aidan Walsh were Cork’s four representatives. Walsh took a place in midfield and also claimed the Young Footballer of the Year award. Shields, Canty and Kissane took three places in the All Star back-line with Shields again taking the full back slot.

The full back line was completed by Kildare’s Peter Kelly and Sligo’s Charlie Harrison. Kelly enjoyed a brilliant rookie season at championship level, while Harrison was outstanding in Sligo’s Connacht Championship campaign. Canty is very fortunate, however, to receive a third All Star after a season disrupted by injury, with Down’s Kevin McKernan and Kildare’s Emmet Bolton both overlooked.

The glaring omission of Daniel Goulding – whose nerveless free taking and intelligent play including three 45s and two points from play in the All-Ireland final – will be a bone of contention on Leeside. Noel O’Leary is also unfortunate to miss out after producing a tigerish performance on Marty Clark in the final.

Down have their biggest representation since their All-Ireland victory in 1994. Goalkeeper Brendan McVeigh received his first All Star alongside county colleagues Marty Clark and Danny Hughes who claim berths in the half-forward line. Benny Coulter, another first-time winner, was selected at corner forward.

The full forward line was completed by this year’s Footballer of the Year Bernard Brogan and the imperious Colm Cooper, who claimed his sixth award. Brogan claimed the full forward berth and was earmarked as the favorite for the gong after some virtuoso displays throughout the championship. Bernard is the third member of his family to receive an award after his father Bernard Sr. and his brother Alan.

The forward line also included the irrepressible Kildare man Johnny Doyle at wing forward, who finished as the 2010 Championship’s highest scorer.

Attention will now swing towards the International Rules series, where six of this year’s All Stars will represent Ireland when they take on Australia in Limerick this weekend.