Editor’s note: John Mullane is the brand ambassador for JJ Kavanagh & Sons and will be bringing his thoughts after all hurling championship games.
So John, as the All Star team has been announced what do you make of the team selection?
You can’t have arguments with the 2015 All Star team and every player does deserve to be named on it. From a Waterford point of view, they have done very well to have been given three. When you look at the fact that eleven of the All Stars have been picked from both All Ireland Finalists and for Waterford to have picked up three awards outside of Kilkenny and Galway it’s a great reflection on how far they’ve gotten within a year.
If you were to look outside of that fifteen there are strong cases for an awful lot of lads that didn’t get picked. Kevin Moran, Austin Gleeson, Shane Fives and Jamie Barron would have had strong cases for getting an All Star. But it goes to show you that when you don’t partake in an All Ireland Final it’s very hard to get an All Star. You got to play exceptionally well throughout the course of the entire year if you’re even going to get nominated!
From a Kilkenny point of view Eoin Larkin was very unlucky not to pick one up. I thought in all the games this year he was unbelievable for Kilkenny. Also, Galway’s Johnny Glynn and Jason Flynn were probably unlucky too not to pick up an All Star.
If you look at this years Munster Hurling Champions Tipperary, Cathal Barrett is again unlucky to have missed out after having a very good Munster Final. What went against him was that he only played two games due to injury. Also, John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer had a fantastic Munster Championship and Final and for me was on course for hurling of the year.
Outside of the four semi-finalists, I don’t think there are any other inter-county teams or players that set the world a light really. Outside of the players I mentioned the 2015 All Star team justifies itself.
What value does the Munster Hurling Championship hold for the winners going forward in the future for the All Stars?
The argument from my point of view, has the Munster Championship been devalued within the All Star selection committee? There is no coincidence over the last couple of years that the sequence of winning the Munster Hurling Championship is not the be-all and end-all when it comes down to the All Star selections. We’ve seen that Cork won it last year, they got no All Stars. Limerick won the Munster Championship in 2013 and got one All Star. Tipperary won the Munster Championship in 2012 and got no All Stars. And this year Tipperary won it and only got one All Star.
Previously, when a county won the Munster Championship, they were guaranteed two or three All Stars and this doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. So the question that has to be put out there. What value does the Munster Hurling Championship hold for the winners going forward in the future?
You have won five All Stars in total. What is it like to win one and what does an All Star mean to GAA players?
The number one goal at the start of the year for any inter-county player is to win matches, to win silverware and to climb those steps up Croke Park in September. Not every team or player can achieve that and only one team can. I think when you can’t achieve that ultimate goal, the next one is to be consistent throughout the course of the year and do the very best you can for your team. That’s the way I approached it anyway. If you can’t win an All Ireland medal or trophies’ I suppose the next biggest prize after that is to win an All Star. From a player’s point of view to win one and not be considered a traditional hurling county it’s a fantastic achievement. It’s highly recognized as a big achievement. You look back at your career and there is a big fulfilment in winning an All Star. This year from a Waterford point of view, Maurice Shanahan has created a small bit of history in Waterford. Maurice now joins his brother Dan on becoming the first set of Brothers to win All Stars within the county!
Who would choose Hurling Manager of the year 2015?
Ultimately it comes down to two people Brian Cody and Derek McGrath.
I suppose it’s just a toss of a coin. From Brian Cody’s point of view to win an All Ireland considering the amount of retirements and the top class players that have left the Kilkenny dressing room, it is among his greatest achievements. Not just winning the All Ireland but doing it fairly comfortably as well!
With Derek McGrath if you just look at the previous year Waterford had no All Stars nominations. To think that we had eleven All Star nominations, picked up three, won the National League Title and were only beaten twice this year. It truly was an unbelievable year for Derek. If I am to be a small bit biased, I would pick Derek as I don’t think Cody would get too strung up after winning so much over the sixteen or seventeen years so I’ll give Derek McGrath the nod for Hurling Manager of the Year 2015.