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Dublin: 18 °C Saturday 23 June, 2018

8 top stars looking to bounce back during the Allianz Hurling League

These top stars have varying reasons for wanting 2016 to be a good year on the intercounty front.

1. Podge Collins (Clare)

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Collins took a back seat from hurling in 2015 after committing exclusively to football under his father Colm’s management.

His summer ended early with cruciate knee ligament damage but Clare boss Davy Fitzgerald has spruced up not only his backroom team, but also his squad as Collins earned a recall.

One of the stars of Clare’s 2013 All-Ireland success, Collins endured a difficult summer in 2014 when he was sent off against Wexford in the qualifiers.

The Cratloe dynamo will feel that he has some unfinished business to attend to with the hurlers and his return is a huge boost for the Banner men.

2. Christopher Joyce (Cork)

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Full-back has proven a problem position for Cork in recent seasons but Christopher Joyce looked like finally solving the issue last year.

That was until the Na Piarsaigh man suffered cruciate knee ligament damage against Dublin at Croke Park in last year’s League encounter.

Joyce has been sidelined ever since and won’t rush his comeback, indicating that he’s prepared to wait until possibly after the League campaign before pulling on the red shirt again.

New Cork boss Kieran Kingston will welcome Joyce back with open arms but there are also returns for Cian McCarthy and Conor O’Sullivan, who both opted out last year, and William Egan is back after declining an invitation to join up with Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s squad in 2015.

3. John McGrath (Tipperary)

Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

McGrath emerged as a real championship contender during last year’s National League campaign, hitting two points on his debut against Galway before slotting over five in the victory over Clare at Cusack Park.

McGrath appeared as a late sub against Kilkenny but that was the end of his League involvement as he was laid low with a pelvic injury.

That setback ended McGrath’s chances of making a summer impact but he’s been in good form for Tipperary in pre-season and looks set, injury permitting, for an extended run in the team.

Brother of Noel, John is a talented player in his own right and the former dual All-Ireland minor medallist is one to keep an eye on.

4. Jack Guiney (Wexford)

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

A standout player in the underage ranks, former Leinster U21 medallist Guiney was axed by senior boss Liam Dunne last summer.

But the olive branch has been extended and the Rathnure hitman is back on board to bolster Dunne’s attacking options.

Guiney is the son of 1996 All-Ireland winner Dave and regarded as one of Wexford’s best forwards when he’s in the mood.

Having made his senior debut in the 2012 National League, Guiney was a regular for Wexford until he was axed.

5. Jackie Tyrrell (Kilkenny)

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Tyrrell suffered injury heartbreak last year as Kilkenny pushed for All-Ireland honours.

The James Stephens defender was ruled out of the All-Ireland semi-final and final through injury but is back on board as he goes in search of a tenth Celtic Cross, an achievement that would equal Henry Shefflin’s.

It’s not a given that Tyrrell will get straight back into the starting line-up, however, as Shane Prendergast took his chance to impress at corner back as the Cats stormed to another All-Ireland title.

But Tyrrell, 33, loves nothing more than a challenge and even though he’s laden down with medals and silverware, he’ll feel there’s still something to prove.

6. Pauric Mahony (Waterford)

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Mahony suffered an horrific double leg break in a club game for Ballygunner last summer but is making steady progress on the road to recovery.

His absence from the Waterford set-up was keenly felt as Mahony finished as joint top scorer in the Allianz Hurling League in 2015.

Viewed as the fulcrum of the Déise attack from centre forward, Mahony makes things tick while also slotting over placed balls with a high accuracy rate.

His loss allowed Maurice Shanahan to assume free-taking responsibilities and greater leadership last year but having Mahony back will feel like a ‘new signing’ for boss Derek McGrath, and greatly aid his cause as Waterford seek to become a little bit more expansive.

7. David Collins (Galway)

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Despite the fact that he was team captain last year, Collins failed to force his way into the starting line-up for the business end of the campaign.

The vastly-experienced defender missed the Leinster final loss to Kilkenny with a hamstring injury and was overlooked for the All-Ireland quarter-final victory over Cork.

Collins came on in that game but then manager Anthony Cunningham kept faith with the same starting line-up for the Tipperary semi-final and Kilkenny decider.

Collins did very well when he came on against the Cats and fired over an inspirational second half point.

But he’ll be hoping that a new broom sweeps clean in Galway – and that new manager Micheál Donoghue will hand him a chance to impress from the start again.

8. Oisin Gough (Dublin)

Source: James Crombie

Gough captained Cuala to Dublin SHC glory last year and after taking a break from intercounty duties, he’s back on board for 2016.

Still just 26 years of age, the classy corner back will feel that he’s approaching his peak years and with boss Ger Cunningham infusing some new blood into his squad, Gough’s experience will prove vital in a transitional phase.

Gough is renowned as a dedicated player with a superb attitude and his leadership skills were very much to the fore as Cuala went all the way to a Leinster club final.

A 2011 National League winner and 2013 Leinster senior champion, Gough is well used to big days and the former dual star at underage level has provided Dublin with a major fillip by committing to the cause once again.

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