Tipperary’s Three on GPA Opel Hurling Team of the Year

Mullane pips Canning for GPA spot 

From www.Irishexaminer.ie

By Brendan O’Brien
THE chief bone of contention in last month’s Vodafone All Stars selection was the omission of John Mullane but the Waterford man received some compensation yesterday by being included in the GPA’s Opel Hurling team of the year.

Mullane lost out to Joe Canning in the All Stars but replaced the Galway man in the latest ‘best of’ list after over 400 players voted on the nominations drawn up by a selection committee chaired by Cork’s Donal O’Grady.

Mullane scored 2-21 in this year’s championship, all from play, and his is the only name that differs from the Vodafone line-up chosen by a panel of GAA journalists.

While the inclusion of Mullane is to be welcomed, given his season, the omission of Canning demonstrates yet again that it is impossible to keep everyone happy.

The Portumna youngster scored 1-16 for Limerick IT in the Fitzgibbon Cup final, featured prominently in Portumna’s All-Ireland success on St Patrick’s Day and amassed huge tallies against Antrim, Laois and Cork in the championship.

“When you break it down really the talking point is Joe Canning not being in there,” admitted O’Grady. “It was between himself and John Mullane for the left corner. There was three nominated there along with Aidan Fogarty. John Mullane won out in that one where he probably lost out in the other awards. I think he deserved that for his performances throughout the year.”

Like Canning, Mullane was consistently excellent in 2008, from the league through to the All-Ireland final. Even in defeat, his standards never slipped as his eight points against Clare in June and the three against Kilkenny attest to.

The difference between Mullane and Canning is that the Waterford man was still in the public eye in early September and that may well have been the deciding factor among players when they were casting their ballots.

“I don’t think the team will create any great controversy,” said O’Grady. “Kilkenny got the lion’s share and that is the way it is going to work out. Players give a higher weight to championship than maybe the earlier stages.

O’Grady went on to say that there could not be too many “gripes” about the team and, with Kilkenny so dominant throughout the summer, it is hard to find fault with such a statement.

“Some positions take a lot more than others because it happens some years that there may not be three outstanding candidates for one position and in other positions there might be five outstanding candidates.

“If you look at the situation there for the right corner forward position you could have had five or six players and in other positions there may not have been.

“Midfield was very, very competitive. Shane McGrath and ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick ended up getting the vote. If you look at the nominees Brian O’Connell of Clare and Tom Kenny of Cork had great years but lost out. Some positions are clear-cut and others are cut-throat.”

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