Limerick tipped for a record TEN All-Stars

All-Ireland hurling kingpins Limerick are confidently expected to collect a record breaking TEN All-Stars when the best hurlers in the country are unveiled on Thursday, ahead of Friday’s live televised event.
The entire final day starting team have been nominated on the 50th anniversary of the All-Stars. Given their dominance in retaining the Liam MacCarthy Cup, the very least John Kiely’s heroes can expect is to match last year’s nine, but the likelihood is that we will set a new bar with TEN Cú Chulainn statuettes.
A banquet was due to take place at Croke Park, but this was cancelled last month due to the escalation in Covid-19 cases and instead RTÉ Two will now broadcast an awards programme from 7pm.
First introduced in 1971, winning an award is one of the pinnacles of an individual’s career. Fifty years ago, Limerick were represented on the inaugural team by Pat Hartigan, who would earn five on the trot, and Eamon Cregan.
All-Ireland winners from ’73 selected that season were Hartigan, Jim O’Brien (RIP), Seán Foley, Richie Bennis and captain Eamon Grimes.
Limerick won Centenary (1984) All-Stars through Paudie Fitzmaurice and Paddy Kelly.
In the 1990s, the likes of Gary Kirby, Joe Quaid, Ciaran Carey and Mike Houlihan were honoured.
Since the turn of the Millennium, players such as Mark Foley, Brian Murray, Richie McCarthy, Ollie Moran, Séamus Hickey and Shane Dowling have earned All-Star recognition.
Limerick’s re-emergence as All-Ireland champions after a 45 year wait in 2018 saw us claim six All-Stars (Seán Finn, Richie English, Declan Hannon, Dan Morrissey, Cian Lynch and Graeme Mulcahy, which dropped to two (Finn and Aaron Gillane) a year later, only to rise again to a magnificent nine last season, courtesy of Nickie Quaid, Seán Finn, Dan Morrissey, Diarmuid Byrnes, Kyle Hayes, Gearóid Hegarty, Cian Lynch, Tom Morrissey and Gillane.
First-time Limerick All-Stars are possible this time around through Will O’Donoghue, Séamus Flanagan and Peter Casey, which will bring the number of our players honoured by the scheme to over 40, including Joe McKenna with an astonishing six.
What is guaranteed is that the Hurler of the Year, for the second time, will be Cian Lynch, who will only turn 26 in a few weeks’ time.
Meanwhile, Cairbre Ó Cairealláin (34) has replaced Mikey Kiely (now Athletic Performance Head with Ulster Rugby) as Limerick’s Strength and Conditioning coach. Ó Cairealláin, a native of Belfast, previously worked with Limerick Hurling Academy and spent three seasons with Liam Sheedy’s Tipperary, helping the Premier County to All-Ireland honours in 2019.
Limerick return to collective training tonight (Wednesday) ahead of the 2022 season, which begins next month with the Munster Senior League.
A limited (1,000) commemorative number plate to honour Limerick’s 1973 All-Ireland win – to support the current players’ training fund – was launched at the weekend and these are on sale in selected outlets across the county, including O’Grady’s Ballingarry, Moran’s Askeaton, Siopa Milseán Abbeyfeale, McDermott’s Patrickswell and Adrenalin Sports Newcastle West.
And, Limerick’s 2020 All-Ireland winner Paddy O’Loughlin – who opted out from county and club duties this season – has been named in the Kilmallock squad for Sunday’s Munster Senior Hurling Championship Club semi-final with Midleton at the Gaelic Grounds (live on TG4, 1.15pm).