GAA | 1 week ago

The county finals are over. Just now.

Finally, the last two county senior finals of the year were contested over the weekend. It dragged all the way out to December for the club hurlers of Galway and the footballers of Waterford, but they got there in the end.

There were All-Irelands won, there were Leinster titles retained, there were Munster championships gained and there was an All-Ireland quarter-final in London on the same weekend that two counties were finishing up their own championships.

It was still a class weekend of GAA action.

And, after a colossal two days, these were the stars of the show.

1. Anthony Nash (Kanturk, Cork)

Made a crucial second half penalty save to guide Kanturk to an All-Ireland intermediate hurling quarter final victory over Kilburn Gaels of London.

Nash's puck-outs were typically class from start to finish. So often he drills the ideal, pinged, head-height ball into the path of an onrushing teammate.

This sets the platform for so many of the Cork side's attacks. Solid. Oozes confidence. Offers exactly what you want from your goalkeeper.

2. Graham O'Sullivan (Dromid Pearses, Kerry)

The Kerry side were unlucky to lose out to Cork champions Knocknagree in the Munster junior football championship final on Sunday. Their defender, Graham, one of the six O'Sullivans on their starting team, couldn't be faulted.

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The youngster is pacy, sturdy and plucky in the backline. Has many fruitful days in the green and gold ahead of him.

3. Michael Conneely (Liam Mellows, Galway)

The Mellows lifted the Tom Callanan cup for the first time in 47 years in Galway. Going into the game as underdogs, their fire, unity and team-spirit gave them the edge over Gort in the county hurling final.

Their full back Michael Conneely led from the front in Pearse Stadium. Like a brick wall at the edge of the small square, his presence, determination and physicality kept the Gort attackers at bay.

4. Jack Mullaney (Stradbally, Waterford)

Stradbally's speedy corner back was water-tight on any Nire forwards that dared to venture towards his goals.

Capped off a fine performance when he raced up the field to raise a decisive white flag in extra time. Sprightly, spring heeled and stubborn, the Nire forwards will be glad to have seen the back of him.

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5.  Sean Moran (Cuala, Dublin)

A behemoth of a half back. An animal in the air. A dog on the ground. A ferocious, ferocious tackler. His distribution is class. His ball control is dead eyed. He is the future centre back of Dublin hurling. He was class in the Leinster final against Kilcormac-Killoughey.

6. Jonathan 'Bosco' O'Neill (Glenealy, Wicklow)

42 years young. No name was mentioned more on the KCLR commentary of the Leinster Intermediate final than the Wicklow legend's. John the Bosco was performing miracles in and around the middle third.

Picked out the simple, correct pass so often. Showed that brains can beat brawn. This man thinks his way through games. He does the simple things, he does them right.

7. Annie Moffatt (Dunboyne, Meath)

Played a captain's role. Played a stormer from left half back. Annie Moffatt led Dunboyne to their second All-Ireland title in three years. She led from the front.

Junior champions in 2015. Intermediate champions in 2017. Dunboyne are on the rise.

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8. Fiona McHale (Carnacon, Mayo)

Player-of-the-match again. Fiona McHale delivered the goods for Carnacon on the biggest stage of all. Just like she always does, she ran the show from lár na páirce.

9. Shane Aherne (Stradbally, Waterford)

Man-of-the-match. Guided Stradbally to glory with four of the finest points from play. The midfield maestro was everywhere but the middle of the field, tracking, attacking, leading.

Fit as a fiddle. Has the finesse to boot, too.

10. Ian Walsh (Kanturk, Cork)

Buff Egan's phone provided the coverage. Kanturk's Ian Walsh provided the class. Lit up the London pitch with his dashing speed and relentless conviction. Always willing, always looking for the ball.

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11. Seamus Prendergast (Ardmore, Waterford)

Scored 2-5. 2-3 from play. Two yellow cards. One red card. The 37-year-old hasn't lost it. As combative and as dogged as ever. One of those hurlers that just gets the job done, one way or another.

12. Kevin Kelly (Ballyragget, Kilkenny)

St. Patrick's Ballyragget survived the fright of their lives on Saturday. By the skin of their teeth. 16/1 outsiders Glenealy put the fear of God into them. The Wicklow champions held a one point lead as the clock ticked towards 60.

Kevin Kelly stepped up. He stepped up like he had been doing all day. He nailed frees from all angles. He nailed the winner with nearly the last puck of the game.

The Bally boys march on. This battle will stand them in huge stead.

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13. Con O'Callaghan (Cuala, Dublin)

Just another day in the life.

This goal. This dummy. This speed. This is the best GAA player in the country right now.

14. Anthony O'Connor (Knocknagree, Cork)

A forward of real, real class. Scored 1-7 for the Cork men on their way to Munster glory. Dromid Pearses couldn't handle his movement, his pace, nor his guile.

A weapon for Knocknagree. A weapon for Cork.

15. Bríd O'Sullivan (Mourneabbey, Cork)

O'Sullivan didn't deserve to come out on the losing side of Sunday's thrilling All-Ireland senior ladies club final between Carnacon and Mourneabbey. She deserved so much more. That's the cruelty of sport, though, but there's no doubting that she will be back, for Cork and for Mourneabbey.

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Siege mentality amongst the Dublin fans and squad is debated on The GAA Hour and Fulham Irish's Greg McCartan talks about what Gaels in London must go through. Listen below or subscribe here on iTunes.



While you're here, check out the latest episode of #SportsJOElive where we had Donegal pro boxer Jason Quigley, Cork Camogie star Ashling Thompson, alongside the ever-brilliant Dion Fanning in the studio!


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Dublin GAA, Tipperary GAA, Waterford GAA, Offaly GAA, #GAAteamoftheweekend