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The Hurling Team Of The Year Outside The All-Ireland Finalists

The Hurling Team Of The Year Outside The All-Ireland Finalists
By Conor Neville Updated

With the Opel All-Star awards ceremony coming down the tracks this week, we've decided to return to what is now a tradition and pick our hurling team of the year outside the two All-Ireland finalists.

The Sunday Game team of the year contained four players who weren't hurling this September, a standard enough allocation.

We've already picked our Gaelic Football Team of the Year excluding the two finalists which can be viewed here.

Anyway... here's the hurling lineup.

1. Colm Callanan

The 2015 All-Star goalkeeper didn't have a game like the Tipperary semi-final last year, where he made a host of point blank saves and kept his team in the hunt.

But he remains a solid presence in a position that has often troubled Galway in years past. Nominated for an All-Star again this year.

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2. Cian Dillon

Was overlooked for an All-Star in 2013 and probably won't get one from 2016 either. Still, in an ultimately disappointing year for Clare hurling, Dillon's been numbered among the nominees. The summer began with he and Tony Kelly lifting the League trophy in Semple Stadium.

3. Daithí Burke

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A near certainty for an All-Star this week who might have been considered for the Hurler of the Year award. Had Galway muscled past Tipp, he'd definitely be in the trio of nominees.

Burke won Man of the Match in the quarter-final against Clare in Thurles and then succeeded in rendering Seamus Callanan anonymous in the All-Ireland semi-final, with some help from reinforcements around and about him.

Callanan's rampant display in the final only underlined the extent of Burke's achievement in the semi-final.

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4. Noel Connors

Not part of the promising class of 2013, Connors already has two All-Star awards from 2010 and 2015. A third one will probably be out of his reach for this year considering the competition from Tipperary.

But another strong and impressive year has guaranteed him a nomination. Intriguingly, Connors juggles hurling with a PhD on club leadership.

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5. Tadhg de Burca

The young Hurler of the Year for 2015, De Burca is chasing a second successive All-Star, though the RTE panel prefer both Padriag Walsh and Paudie Maher for the wing-back slots. The All-Star selection committee are likely to agree. Still, 2016 offered more confirmation that De Burca is one of the most outstanding players of the new generation of Waterford hurlers. Standout match was the drawn game against Kilkenny.

6. Austin Gleeson

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The witness protection programme beckons for anyone who leaves Austin Gleeson out of their All-Stars team of 2016.

Hurling's newest superstar delivered a series of spectacular and dominant performances in the championship, none more so than against Kilkenny in Thurles. Sky Sports even bequeathed the Man of the Match award on Gleeson though RTE didn't look beyond the winning team.

He's not yet the perfect player. His decision making was a bit erratic at times. He was especially suspectible to the wild, Hollywood-style shot at goal when more prudent options abounded. A few barnstorming runs ended with balls being ballooned wide of the target.

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But there's a great excitement at how he'll progress in future years.

7. Diarmaid Byrnes

A nothing year for Limerick which saw them retreat further into the background and ended with TJ y calling it quits and announcing he'd done all he could.

Even so, Diarmaid Byrnes enjoyed a positive year, managing to earn himself an All-Star nomination despite seeing no championship action since early July.

He's an old hand already in the field of victory speeches, having captained Limerick to the U21 All-Ireland title in 2015.

He starred in Limerick League campaign last spring. And he shone in a losing display against Clare, rifling over three second half points from wing back.

8. Jamie Barron

Barron was so impressive at midfield, he won inclusion on the Sunday Game team of the year, as we know a formidably difficult thing for one who hasn't hurled in September to achieve. He's currently priced a 1/2 to pick up an All-Star gong this week.

Began the summer by being central to an incident which got John Mullane all riled up on Radio One. Barron was controversially denied a free at the death in the League Final replay. Clare re-took possession and manufactured a late win.

9. David Burke

It feels like a very long time since the dog days of 2013 and 2014 when Burke's form deserted him altogether and he faced omission from the team.

He has delivered two superb seasons in the maroon jersey in 2015 and 2016. Won the Man of the Match award in the All-Ireland semi-final despite finishing on the losing side. Appears to be a nailed on certainty to collect his second All-Star in a row and his third in all.

10. Kevin Moran

A veteran within the Waterford camp by this stage, Kevin Moran is rare within the dressing room in being the owner of two Munster senior titles.

Gave his usual lung-bursting effort in the two All-Ireland semi-finals against Kilkenny even if hawkeye's decision to rule his long-range shot wide shortly before the end went on to be very costly indeed.

Was last rewarded with an All-Star in 2012 and has been nominated in the midfield this time around.

11. Lee Chin

Chin has ferocious competition for an All-Star spot in the half-forward line but he's still set to miss the Wexford Youths promotion-relegation playoff to attend the big bash. He's made clear his prioirity lies with hurling.

He hit four points from play against Cork in the qualifier victory in Thurles. The quarter-final against Waterford was a bridge too far Wexford and they were soundly beaten. Still, Chin impressed neutrals and shot over a couple of points.

12. Tony Kelly

The hero of a thrilling League Final denouement in Thurles in May, Kelly scored two very late points to give Clare a one point victory. We'd call it memorable only by the end of September, many supporters struggle to recall who won the League.

John Leahy, we should add, did once win an All-Star purely on the strength of League form back in 1994. He was injured for the championship opener which Tipp lost to Clare.

He was again Clare's chief scoring threat, hitting 0-9 in the win over Limerick, Clare's first championship triumph against serious opposition since the 2013 All-Ireland final replay.

13. Pauric Mahony

The Man of the Match in the drawn All-Ireland semi-final, Mahony notched 0-14 and was one of the chief heroes of the Waterford effort which somehow didn't end in victory. A fortnight later, he was the player most associated with Waterford heartbreak as his last minute free dropped into Eoin Murphy's hand.

14. Conor McDonald

McDonald averaged a haul of 0-10 across the three championship matches he played this year. He hit headlines for his 0-13 tally against Cork in the qualifiers in July.

One might call the result a mild surprise though Cork hurling defeats rarely surprise anyone these days. The bigger surprise that Wexford, thought to be in disarray all year, were in a position to capitalise.

15. Conor Cooney

The year finished with Cooney winning his second county championship with St. Thomas's.

As far as the county scene goes, Cooney wasn't shy about rattling the back of the net. He hit goals in three of Galway's five championship matches, save for the Leinster final against Kilkenny and the opener against Westmeath, when he was a sub and shot over 0-4 in a brief cameo.

Nailed 1-3 against Offaly in Portlaoise and scored early goals against both Clare and Tipp in bigger games later in the summer. Fantastically free-scoring when in the mood.

Read more: The Gaelic Football Team Of The Year Outside The Two All-Ireland Finalists

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