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The Hurling Rolling All-Stars: Round 5

The Hurling Rolling All-Stars: Round 5
By Maurice Brosnan Updated

A sporting nation is slowly coming to terms with the fact that the vast majority of the 2018 Championship hurling is over with only eight teams left in the competition. It was a superb couple of weeks but now we move towards the business end of the year as Galway, Kilkenny, Cork and Clare prepare for a provincial final.

It is at this point when the rolling All-Stars prove their worth. As a reminder, in order to combat one brilliant semi-final/final performance overriding earlier performances, balls.ie introduced the rolling All-Stars. Every round we'll consider the best performances and compare them to the existing holder. For example, Peter Duggan was superb on Sunday slotting 0-13 but was it enough to oust TJ Reid, who was excellent against Wexford earlier this year?

Here is the fifth round of the hurling Al-Stars.

1. Anthony Nash

Nash's all-around contribution is well-established with Jamesie O'Connor providing some great analysis of his puck-outs last month, but Nash also does his primary role expertly and made a great goal-line save on Sunday to deny Waterford and ensure Cork progress to a Munster final.

2. Colm Spillane

In an era of unprecedented inside forward movement and pace, Spillane has coped admirably.

3. Daithi Burke

A rock at the heart of Galway's defence.

4. Pat O'Connor

O'Connor gave Shane Dowling his fill of it yesterday. Since that shaky opening 15 minutes against Tipperary Clare's backs have looked rock-solid.

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5. Padraic Mannion

Hurler of the year so far.

6. Gearoid McInerney

McInerney has had a solid year but slightly fortuitous to be in. However, it has not been an outstanding year for centre-backs. Cleary, Hannon, Mahony and Buckley have all had good but unspectacular years. A spot that is certainly up for grabs.

7. Chris Crummey

Holds down his spot having built up credit in the bank with his performances against Kilkenny, Wexford and Galway.

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8. Darragh Fitzgibbon

A serious partnership is starting to develop in the heart of Cork's midfield between Fitzgibbon and Bill Cooper.

9. Cian Lynch

A poor afternoon for Limerick and Lynch last weekend, but his performance against Cork and Waterford ensure it was not enough that he was dropped.

10. Aonghus Clarke

Enjoying a remarkable Championship campaign with Westmeath, the half-forward looks set to burst onto the national scene with a Joe McDonagh final and a preliminary quarter-final on the horizon.

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11. Joe Canning

2017's hurler of the year has picked up from where he left off so far.

12. TJ Reid (out) - Peter Duggan (in) 

The purpose of the rolling All-Stars to consider the entire performance and not one-off games. Reid was brilliant against Wexford in the second half, but struggled from play against Dublin up against the brillant Crummey and did not score from play against Galway. He, like Duggan, is a supreme free-taker. If you want to know the value a free-taker gives just look at the Limerick drop after Dowling's wides on Sunday. Duggan finished with 0-13, kicking on from the 0-15 and a late stunner he hit against Tipperary. A spot to watch as the Championship heats up.

13. Seamus Flanagan

Make no mistake, Flanagan had a bad day at the office on Sunday. However, three other showings including a man-of-the-match award against Cork ensure he holds his spot for now at least. Patrick Horgan was breathing down his neck but only mustered a point from play this weekend. Conor Whelan another man in the mix.

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14. John Conlon

Caused unholy wreck in the Limerick full-back line. A sweeper should always be used to complement a defence, not to compensate for it and Limerick made that costly error yesterday.

15. Graeme Mulcahy (out) - Seamus Harnedy (in)

After a bright start, 140 minutes of Championship hurling and one goal to show for it is a poor return for Mulcahy who was taken off at half-time on Sunday. Harnedy landed the crucial score for Cork, finishing with 1-3 in total and building on the 0-5 he hit against Tipperary. He also hit 1-2 against Clare.

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