2018 was a new dawn for hurling as the archaic system of old was ripped up. Yet at the end of a bold and unprecedented structure for the hurling Championship, Cork are Munster champions and Kilkenny proved you should never write them off. The more things change the more they stay the same.
A common concern surrounding the All-Stars is that too often it feels like one good semi-final/final performance overrides more consistent stars in the earlier rounds. In order to address this, Balls.ie introduced the rolling All-Stars. Every round we'll consider the best performances and compare them to the existing holder. For example, James Maher had a stormer for Kilkenny in Croke Park on Sunday, but was it better than Cian Lynch's showing against Cork and Waterford earlier this year?
Here is the sixth round of the rolling All-Stars.
His puck-outs are proving to be a defining factor in this Cork team's mobile gameplan.
2. Colm Spillane
John Conlon caused unholy wreck in the first half, and it was John Meyler's decision to put Spillane on him that curtailed Clare's key attacking threat.
3. Daithi Burke
Croke Park on Sunday was a day that saw defenders shine, none more so than Burke who was outstanding against Walter Walshe. He hugely impressed former Kilkenny defender Jackie Tyrell, who was purring on the Sunday Game when discussing Burke's exploits.
4. Pat O'Connor
Sean O’Donoghue, John Hanbury and Alan Corcoran were all impressive this weekend, but O'Connor's credit in the bank from earlier rounds just keeps him in for now.
5. Padraic Mannion
Mannion was quieter than usual on Sunday, but he has had an outstanding Championship overall.
6. Gearoid McInerney (out) – Cillian Buckley (in)
Centre-back looks set to be a highly contested position this year. Buckley was man of the match on Sunday, kicking on from a terrific showing against Wexford. Kilkenny still have certain issues that need to be addressed but their spine, from keeper, full-back, centre-back, midfield, centre-forward and full-forward looks strong.
7. Chris Crummey
Holds onto his spot for another week at least. Mark Coleman the nearest competitor currently.
8. Darragh Fitzgibbon
An absolute gem of a hurler who consolidated his spot with another excellent performance in the Munster final.
9. Cian Lynch (out) – James Maher (in)
A fascinating battle is in store once again this week between Galway and Kilkenny's midfield. Both Maher and Burke's ground-hurling were brilliant on Sunday.
10. Aonghus Clarke (out) – TJ Reid (in)
Clarke wore five on his back last Sunday, as he has done at various times during the Joe McDonagh Cup. He drifted forward from there and landed a superb earlier score over his shoulder. However, as Carlow packed bodies around the centre the Westmeath man couldn't force his way into the game. Just before half-time he had a crucial goal chance which he blazed over. His man did not track him and was free for the puck-out and ultimately Carlow went up the other end and got a goal. From there, the game was over.
In the following game, Reid scored 10 points including a last-gasp equaliser.
11. Joe Canning
0-6 against Kilkenny and yet you get the sense Galway will need more if they are to retain the Liam McCarthy this summer.
12. Peter Duggan
Missed frees aside, Duggan was excellent in Thurles and a superb asset from the puck-out.
13. Seamus Flanagan (out) – Patrick Horgan (in)
Continues to look like a master at work.
Great point by Cork's Patrick Horgan pic.twitter.com/BiIJw2FUCC
— The GAA (@officialgaa) July 1, 2018
The great WH Auden once wrote “Let us honour, if we can, the vertical man, Though we value none, But the horizontal one”...Someday along the way the GAA world will acknowledge the genius of Patrick Horgan #CorkVClare pic.twitter.com/ZfzqPEKfMY
— Conor Cusack (@Conor14Cusack) July 1, 2018
14. John Conlon
It was looking ominous for Cork as Conlon dominated the inside line and scored 0-5 in the first half. His influence waned in the second half and it proved crucial.
15. Seamus Harnedy
Took his goal well. A real Captain fantastic who continues to enjoy a stunning year in red.
Harnedy no bullshit , no nonsense, pure leader , class player, love the way he plays
— Ken McGrath (@kenmcgrath78) July 1, 2018