Always a talking point, this year’s Hurling and Football All Stars selections didn’t go down too well in the Southeast; or outside of Kilkenny at any rate.
Ex-Wexford hurling manager John Meyler (who may well be replaced by Mount Sion clubman Kevin Ryan in the coming weeks) had questioned the credibility and value of the awards before getting the boot a few weeks ago.
“I don’t have much interest in All Star nominations as I don’t have much time for individual awards. It’s a subjective opinion. A lot of those reporters on the selection panel don’t even go to hurling matches,” he claimed, adding (presumptuously some reporters might say): “I’m only interested in trying to bring Wexford hurling to another level, build on the Waterford game, not let it bypass us, so we can compete with Kilkenny. I won’t worry about it until we win the All-Ireland. If we win the All-Ireland, the All-Stars will look after themselves,” he asserted. Which was an awfully big if.
Waterford’s Eoin Kelly, our sole recipient this year, said something similar about the All Stars after failing to even secure a nomination 12 months ago. Clinton Hennessy, I thought, could have got the goalkeeper gong (probably paying for a leaky defence), but John Mullane, who reportedly lost out by just two votes, has to be bitterly disappointed. Young Hurler winner, Galway’s Joe Canning, was awesome against Cork, but Mullane, previously honoured in 2003, was at worst good and at best brilliant in every championship match Waterford played last summer. One award must be the lowest return any All-Ireland finalist has gleaned since the All Stars scheme began. To catch the judges’ eye it seems you’re better off having one massive game than a series of very good ones.
They’re even more sore across the estuary that not a single Wexford footballer was recognised – an absolute joke.
Jason Ryan, the Waterford man who managed the Model County to an All-Ireland semi-final in his first season, may well feel John Meyler has a point.