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The Five Hurlers To Win All-Stars As Forwards And Backs

The Five Hurlers To Win All-Stars As Forwards And Backs
By Maurice Brosnan Updated

With The PwC All-Star Awards on the horizon, it is time to honour a very select groups of hurlers who achieved the rare distinction of winning an award in both defence and attack.

Hurling has developed at a phenomenal rate and players have evolved in numerous ways but the ability to impress in both defence and attack remains a unique skill. It demands the ability to perform with or without the sliotar. A player must be able to deliver scores and prevent them.

Discover more about the history of the All-Stars on the official PwC All-Stars App. Download here

There are several players who have been awarded an All-Star for midfield and another position, but when it comes to making an impression as a defender and a forward it is a significantly more finite group. Achieving what so few have done in the past, Waterford duo Ken McGrath and Michael Walsh, Kilkenny's Tommy Walsh, Cork's Brian Corcoran and Offaly's Brian Whelahan all managed to secure All-Stars in both positions.

Ken McGrath - Waterford 

The Waterford icon first collected an All-Star in 2002 at wing-forward and from their graduated back out the field. 2004 saw The Déise storm to a Munster Championship success and McGrath was crucial to that. In front of a sea of blue and white, it was McGrath who climbed the Semple Stadium steps to collect their trophy. He was awarded an All-Star as a midfielder for his efforts.

Finally, in 2007 it was as a centre-back that McGrath impressed and he was deservedly recognised for a series of superb performances including a rock-solid defensive display in the All-Ireland quarter-final that limited Cork to just 0-12 from play.

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Tommy Walsh - Kilkenny 

One of the most versatile hurlers in the history of the modern game. Hurling was steeped in the Walsh family; his grandfather, Paddy Grace, and brother, Padraig, both enjoyed All-Ireland success with Kilkenny. His sister, Grace, is a key member of the Kilkenny senior camogie team.

He won a stunning nine All-Star awards across a success-laden career with Kilkenny. Brian Cody's most trusted lieutenant, it was in midfield that Walsh first impressed for which he was recognised in 2003.

Just a year later he graduated to wing-back, and by 2005 he completed the trio when he collected an All-Star at left wing-forward. That would be his only award as a forward, but by the time he retired in 2014 he would have nine All-Ireland medals, nine All-Stars and a reputation as one the greatest to ever play the game.

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Michael Walsh - Waterford 

Michael 'Brick' Walsh, the greatest servant in the history of Waterford hurling. Having impressed as an underage Gaelic footballer, he elected to devote his time to the small ball in 2003 and has been a pillar of the team ever since.

While Walsh made his debut that year, it took four years until he secured his first All-Star. It came in 2007 as Waterford secured a Munster championship. Walsh was named at midfield on that year's All-Star team and would go on to secure the award three more times. Of those three, two came at centre-back and one at wing forward, where Walsh operated during Waterford's run to an All-Ireland final.

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He recently broke the appearance record in the senior championship when he started his 74th game for the county.

Brian Whelahan - Offaly 

Incredibly, in 1994 Brian Whelahan won two Hurler of the Year awards - one voted on by the media, the other by his fellow players  - yet he did not receive an All-Star.

He did, however, collect that award as a wing-back in 1992 and 1995, before impressing as a full-forward in 1998 as Offaly stormed to their fourth All-Ireland victory. Whelahan was a renowned sticksman who enjoyed a fruitful career that included two All-Ireland medals, three Leinster titles and four All-Stars in total.

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The Offaly man was a staple of their golden years with 55 championship appearances, second only to Joe Dooley in Offaly's all-time rankings.

Brian Corcoran - Cork 

Brian Corcoran was voted onto the Cork Hurling Team of the Century in 2000 and is distinguished as one of the sport's greatest ever centre-backs.

Three All-Stars, three different positions for the Cork legend. From the age of fifteen, the Rebel county knew Corcoran was destined for greatest when he managed to force his way onto both the Cork minor teams as a dual player.

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He went on to become a key player for both Cork's hurling and Gaelic football teams but it was with the stick that he shone brightest. Just a year after making his debut, he was selected at corner-back on the 1992 All-Star team. He was also awarded Hurler of the Year.

In 1999, Cork secured the Liam MacCarthy Cup once again and at centre-back, key to it all was Corcoran. Finally, in 2004 he was selected at full-forward confirming his place in this elite list.

SEE ALSO: The Six Gaelic Footballers To Win All-Stars As Forwards And Backs

SEE ALSO: Win An Amazing Trip To The PwC All-Stars Awards By Taking This Quiz

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