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04th Mar 2020

Hard to argue with Club hurling team of the year as Ballyhale and Borris-Ileigh dominate

Niall McIntyre

Club hurling belongs to Ballyhale Shamrocks right now.

Champions for two years on the trot, this young team could easily go onto make it three, or even four in a row. A small area in south Kilkenny, hurling is their identity and their passion. Without it, they would be just another run-of-the-mill Irish village, with it, there are awed, holy tones associate with the name, ‘the Shamrocks.’

Some of the most skilful aristocrats ever to play the game hail from the parish and while Henry Shefflin and TJ Reid are the most recent God-given representatives, Ballyhale’s dominance stretches long before, they are the most successful club hurling team of all-time..

It was just another year for the Shamrocks, with the club winning a record 8th All-Ireland title this season. Five of their players were named on the AIB team of the year, in Joey Holden, Darren Mullen, Evan Shefflin, TJ Reid and Colin Fennelly.

Next best represented are Tipperary’s story of the club season in Borris-Ileigh, who put it up to Ballyhale in the final and also claim spots on the team. James McCormack and Paddy Stapleton kept the goals at bay while cult hero Jerry Kelly and Dan McCormack stood tall at all times. Brendan Maher was a phenomenon for them.

Beaten semi-finalists Slaughtneil earned two spots on the team, with Christy McKaigue and Brendan Rogers getting the nod. Centre back Shane McGuigan can count himself unlucky here, the Derry footballer managing to hold TJ Reid to just 0-1 from play in that semi-final, after a stellar season.

Shane Cooney of St Thomas’, Galway is wing back on the team after a brilliant performance against Borris-Ileigh in the semi-final. Marty Kavanagh of St Mullins and Dessie Hutchinson of Ballygunner complete the line-up. Both players terrorised defences all the way to the Munster and Leinster club finals.

AIB GAA Club hurling team of the year

1 James McCormack (Borris-Ileigh)
2 Paddy Stapleton (Borris-Ileigh)
3 Joseph Holden (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
4 Darren Mullen (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
5 Evan Shefflin (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
6 Brendan Maher (Borris-Ileigh)
7 Shane Cooney (St Thomas)
8 Dan McCormack (Borris-Ileigh)
9 Christopher McKaigue (Slaughtneil)
10 Brendan Rogers (Slaughtneil)
11 TJ Reid (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
12 Jerry Kelly (Borris-Ileigh)
13 Dessie Hutchinson (Ballygunner)
14 Colin Fennelly (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
15 Martin Kavanagh (St Mullins)

Hurler of the Year nominees

  • Brendan Maher
  • Evan Shefflin
  • TJ Reid

There are always going to be hard-luck stories in selections like these and Colin Fennelly can count himself hard-done-by not to get a shout here. The Ballyhale full forward scored 4-5 from play between the Kilkenny and All-Ireland finals and was a key player in their match. That being said, TJ Reid hit his usual high standards while Evan Shefflin was a pillar of consistency the whole year long. Despite losing the final, Brendan Maher, for inspirational cameos in particular against Ballygunner and St Thomas’ should take home the top gong.

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