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The 2016 August All-Star hurling awards go to…

Let the debate begin. Here are the front runners ahead of this weekend’s first semi-final in Croke Park.

FOUR TEAMS LEFT in the race.

Kilkenny, Waterford, Tipperary and Galway are the counties still in with a chance of claiming the Liam MacCarthy Cup.

That likely means those four counties will win the majority of the 2016 All-Star awards.

When we picked the side at this stage last year, it ended up featuring nine players from eventual selection. The same number as we’d picked the year before.

There’s still three (at least) major showdowns that will have a big bearing on the ultimate outfit that will be honoured in November.

And for all those who won’t agree with this side, the comments section is a place where you can argue and vent.

Goalkeeper

1. Eoin Murphy (Kilkenny)

Two games to date, two clean sheets and not a foot put wrong by Glenmore goalkeeper Murphy. Acts as an excellent sweeper for his full-back line and has a great chance of claiming his first Allstar award this year.

Honourable mentions go to…

The remaining three goalkeepers have had their moments with 2015 Allstar Colm Callanan impressive last time out against Clare, Darren Gleeson’s puckouts were a lethal weapon in the Munster final and apart from that disaster against Tipperary, Stephen O’Keeffe has done his bit for Waterford.

Eoin Murphy Kilkenny goalkeeper Eoin Murphy Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Full-Back Line

2. Cathal Barrett (Tipperary)
3. Daithi Burke (Galway)
4. Paul Murphy (Kilkenny)

Cathal Barrett has been outstanding in defence for Tipperary. Daithi Burke’s man-of-the-match display against Clare was reflective of his growing stature. While Paul Murphy’s return since Kilkenny’s league semi-final defeat to Clare has coincided with assured defensive play.

Honourable mentions go to…

Both James Barry and Joey Holden have been dependable in their full-back roles while Noel Connors and Padraig Mannion will have claims as well.

Cathal Barrett Tipperary's Cathal Barrett Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Half-Back Line

5. Austin Gleeson (Waterford)
6. Ronan Maher (Tipperary)
7. Padraic Maher (Tipperary)

Austin Gleeson has shone in a variety of roles but it’s the half-back line where we reckon he will challenge. Alongside him the Maher brothers have stood out, Padraic bringing his experience to bear and Ronan maturing into a centre-back of note.

Honourable mentions go to…

Kilkenny duo Cillian Buckley and Padraig Walsh are certain to challenge strongly while Tadhg de Búrca, Aidan Harte and Seamus Kennedy could make a late surge as well.

Austin Gleeson Waterford's Austin Gleeson Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Midfield

8. Michael Breen (Tipperary)
9. Conor Fogarty (Kilkenny)

Breen has been one of the great emerging stories of 2016, with power-packed midfield displays and has struck three goals as well for Tipperary. Conor Fogarty is also starting to get recognition, his man-of-the-match in the Leinster final was richly deserved.

Honourable mentions go to…

Michael Fennelly and Brendan Maher have offered guidance and experience to their teams. Captain David Burke stood out for Galway last time while Jamie Barron is always involved for Waterford. And a mention for Lee Chin and Colm Galvin, who may not claim awards, but produced exceptional displays against Cork and Galway respectively.

Michael Breen scores a goal Tipperary's Michael Breen Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Half-Forward Line

10. Kevin Moran (Waterford)
11. TJ Reid (Kilkenny)
12. Joe Canning (Galway)

Moran’s game encompasses several roles for Waterford but we’ll slot him in here. He was man-of-the-match against Wexford and nominated in their win over Clare. 2015 Hurler of the Year TJ Reid has racked up 0-20 to date for Kilkenny while Joe Canning produced a standout performance last time out against Clare.

Honourable mentions go to…

Richie Hogan was magnificent when sprung from the bench against Galway, while Walter Walsh, Patrick Maher and Pauric Mahony have had their moments as well. Tony Kelly was exceptional in Clare’s march to a league title.

Joe Canning of Galway scores a goal Galway's Joe Canning Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Full-Forward Line

13. John McGrath (Tipperary)
14. Seamus Callanan (Tipperary)
15. Jonjo Farrell (Kilkenny)

A haul of 2-25 illustrates Seamus Callanan’s continued worth to the fortunes of the Tipperary hurlers. Either side of him are two players who have burst to prominence with John McGrath netting a hat-trick in the Munster final while Jonjo Farrell was brilliant in Kilkenny’s two Leinster outings.

Honourable mentions go to…

Maurice Shanahan stood out for Waterford earlier in the summer against Clare, Conor Whelan has impressed at stages while both Conor McDonald and Alan Cadogan had sparkling outings in the qualifiers.

Jonjo Farrell Kilkenny hurler Jonjo Farrell Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

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