1 Stephen O’Keeffe / Waterford
Club action with Ballygunner denied the Waterford stopper a full suite of games, but he was still terrific when called upon for the Déise. There were a couple of key moments from a couple of goalkeepers throughout the campaign, including a sublime save from Limerick’s Nickie Quaid in the final, but O’Keeffe’s consistency and efficient distribution gives him the nod.
2 Tom Condon / Limerick
With the sterling performances that the Limerick full-back line put in throughout last season, it was widely considered, maybe even by Condon himself, that he would be resigned to a substitute spot this year. Handed a bit of luck with Mike Casey and Sean Finn injured during the early stages of the league, the experienced Knockaderry stalwart, a firm crowd favourite, has grasped the opportunity with both hands and turned in consistently excellent performances, including a man-of-the-match display in the fixture against Kilkenny. A welcome selection headache for John Kiely come championship time, with Casey and Finn returning to full fitness lately.
3 Eoghan O’Donnell / Dublin
The Whitehall Colmcille’s giant has garnered nationwide interest following on from his recent league displays. His no-nonsense approach and impressive physical prowess has played no small part in Dublin’s development. In the space of two weeks, they have gone from a team on the periphery to many people’s tip for a dark horse for Leinster, and even bigger prizes. Their strong spine, Kenny’s tactical approach, and intensity on the breakdown have contributed to their progress, and O’Donnell is a critical cog in that wheel. They will welcome this break and look to catch Kilkenny on the hop in Nowlan Park on May 11th.
4 Gearoid McInerney / Galway
An omni-present at the back for Galway, Gearoid McInerney is showing no signs of stopping anytime soon. He’ll be plunged into a huge leadership role in the absence of Joe Canning for the Leinster campaign.
5 Diarmaid Byrnes / Limerick
Consistency is king and Byrnes rarely falters. He has worked on his aerial capabilities and, critically, his distribution. Couple these with sharp levels of accuracy, in particular from long-ranged placed balls, and better decision-making in the heat of battle, and Byrnes is one of the first names on the Limerick team-sheet.
6 Sean Moran / Dublin
An All-Ireland winning captain with Cuala, Moran, like his teammate at full back, has emerged as one of the most impressive centre backs operating right now with a series of all-action displays for Dublin.
7 Austin Gleeson / Waterford
Frustrating and sublime all in one. There aren’t many half backs as industrious as the former Player of the Year.
8 Jamie Barron / Waterford
The diminutive midfielder is firmly back to his best in the Waterford midfield. After a quiet 2018 for him, he’s back on All-Star pace with an ever-improving Déise side that will be hungry to deliver a big Munster championship, especially now that they’ll be playing in their home comforts in Walsh Park.
9 Darragh O’Donovan / Limerick
Sometimes falling into the sizeable Cian Lynch-shaped shadow, O’Donovan is no less important to the Limerick system. His work-rate is a genuine inspiration to younger hurlers pondering how to bring their game to the next level, and we would love to see some stats on how often he is in possession – it feels like he’s always on the ball.
10 Rory O’Connor / Wexford
A diamond in the rough at Wexford, the young forward has all the attributes to go far in his hurling career, and has completed a strong league campaign for the Yellowbellies.
11 Joe Canning / Galway
An unfortunate injury has blackened his year and is likely to miss the entirety of the Leinster campaign. Up until his blow against Waterford, he was having a typically fantastic league.
12 Danny Sutcliffe / Dublin
Prolific in attack and a dynamo to watch, Sutcliffe is the illustration of this exciting new period under Mattie Kenny.
13 Peter Casey / Limerick
The Na Piarsaigh clubman needed a big league campaign to put a scratch on John Kiely’s championship selection and he delivered. But how do you drop one of Graeme Mulcahy or Seamus Flanagan? We don’t envy the gaffer.
14 Stephen Bennett / Waterford
Splendid and prolific. It’s fantastic to see him back in action. If he can continue his upward trend, he’ll be in the All-Star conversation at the season’s end.
15 Aaron Gillane / Limerick
An incredible 1-9 in the league final, including a goal that will be catching the highlight reels for years to come. The Patrickswell forward is getting better and better.
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