Richie Hogan (Kilkenny)
The Hurler of the Year in waiting, Hogan enjoyed his best ever campaign in the black and amber this year. Brian Cody’s decision to switch him to centre-field for the majority of the campaign was a masterstroke. Although he was kept relatively quiet in the replay, Hogan hit a couple of early points for Kilkenny when they really needed them.
He may have been more used to operating closer to goals, but Hogan’s scoring instincts haven’t deserted him either and he racked up 1-18 from play during the championship.
Seamus Callanan (Tipperary)
Callanan is Hogan’s only serious rival for the big individual prize. The 25-year-old finally delivered on his undoubted potential with a spell binding campaign, scoring 9-50 in the championship. Any other year, he’d be nailed on to win Hurler of the Year, but the form of Richie Hogan all year means that Callanan will have to make do with his first ever Allstar.
Callanan took a great deal of criticism from inside the county in the past, but he answered his critics by leading the Premier County back to the All-Ireland final.
Seamus Hickey (Limerick)
The August Player of the Month enjoyed a fine year, which will be best remembered for his truly outstanding performance against Kilkenny in the All-Ireland semi-final. Hickey gave powerful, determined display in Limerick’s heartbreaking two point defeat that day, just 12 months after he suffered cruciate knee ligament damage.
Murroe-Boher man missed the entire league campaign but returned just in time for the championship and has been Limerick’s best performer over the summer. That he is in line to secure an Allstar a mere 12 months after suffering such a serious injury is a testament to Hickey’s character.
Paul Murphy (Kilkenny)
One of the game’s most consistent defenders, Murphy looks set to win a third Allstar in only his fourth year playing inter county hurling. The tigerish defender is often one of Kilkenny’s unsung heroes, but he completely sniffed out the threat of Lar Corbett last Saturday, while he had an epic tussle with Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher in the drawn game.
Murphy has enjoyed an excellent year where the Cats have swept all before them.
Brendan Maher (Tipperary)
Tipp’s captain enjoyed an excellent season on the Premier County’s half-back line. He had the most plays of any Tipp player on Saturday evening with 17 and only Michael Fennelly (21 times) was on the ball more in the game.
The Borrisoleigh man has been in fine form in 2014 and kept Eoin Larkin under wraps in another impressive display in the replay.
TJ Reid (Kilkenny)
TJ Reid was Kilkenny’s chief scoring threat throughout the season. A haul of 2-11 in the League final against Tipperary marked his intentions for the year and he didn’t disappoint. Reid racked up 4-53 (4-10 from play) in his six championship games this year, finishing as the third highest scorer of the year.
The Ballyhale Shamrocks sharpshooter has assumed the scoring mantle from Henry Shefflin and has firmly established himself as a critical part of Cody’s attack.
Bonner Maher (Tipperary)
A key cog in Eamon O’Shea’s side this year, Bonner Maher’s ball-winning ability and direct running created countless chances for his team-mates on Tipp’s run to the All-Ireland final. After a disappointing 2013, Maher blossomed into one of the finest forwards in the game this season.