THE curtain firmly fell on the inter-county hurling season last Saturday with Tipperary’s emphatic triumph in the All-Ireland U20 final.
It was the icing on the bigger cake that had been won the previous Sunday.
People will have their own impressions on the season and how it went for their county.
For obvious reasons, there will be an afterglow in the Premier County that is going to last well into the winter while here on Leeside, it will be a winter of reflection of a season that never ignited apart from those two victories in the Gaelic Grounds against the then All-Ireland champions.
Wexford will have been delighted to come in from the cold in Leinster and will wonder what might have been against Tipp in the All-Ireland semi-final when they led by five points and had an extra man.
Galway were probably the story of the year for all the wrong reasons. Right now, the county is immersed in a managerial crisis with the departure of Micheál O’Donoghue.
Kilkenny probably exceeded expectations by reaching the big house on the big day and they’ll claim that the sending off of Richie Hogan had a huge bearing on the outcome even if, in reality, it hadn’t because the calmer voice would say that it was Tipp’s time anyway.
Limerick, at one stage in the season, held the grand slam, the All-Ireland, the league and the Munster championship but those, in the end, meant little after the one-point loss to Kilkenny in the All-Ireland semi-final.
They, of course, had genuine grounds for complaint with the 65 that was not awarded right at the death.
So this is how we looked at the season.
Team of the Year:
It just has to be Tipperary after that All-Ireland win coming on the back of a Munster final hammering and being reduced to 14 players in the semi-final and being five points in arrears.
They were the best-balanced team when the need was at its greatest.
Hurler of the Year:
Here in Cork, we’d love to give that to Patrick Horgan and it would be richly deserved, all the more so after his stunning display against Kilkenny which yielded a return of 3-10.
But, realistically, a player that is a member of a team that loses in the All-Ireland quarter-final is not going to get that accolade.
So it’s going to be a Tipp player and the obvious choice has to be Séamus Callanan despite the claims of Brendan Maher and Pádraic Maher and Noel McGrath.
Eight championship goals from the Drom & Inch player Callanan tells its own story.
Biggest Talking Point:
There were quite a few, Hogan’s final dismissal and the 65 that Limerick did not get when it was clear that it should have been awarded and if it had would things have turned out very different.
Manager of the Year:
Eddie Brennan did a fantastic job in getting Laois into an All-Ireland quarter-final. Beating Dublin along the way was a great story in itself.
However, Liam Sheedy’s second coming in Tipperary was the real story. The theory that you should never go back was certainly blown away on this occasion.
Score of the Year:
So many across all fronts but we’ll give this one to Patrick Horgan for his goal on his knees in the defeat to Kilkenny.
It was a masterstroke from a master craftsman.
All those who failed to collect silverware will believe it was them, Cork especially after not driving on from that great victory over Limerick.
Nothing went right for Waterford but, however, I suppose, Galway’s loss to Dublin was a massive shock to the system for their fans.
They had lost the previous year’s final by just a point and were champions the year before that.
It showed the influence Joe Canning had for them and how he was missed.
That goes to Laois surely for their year. Winning the Joe McDonagh Cup and then stunning Dublin in Parnell Park.
Something really to build on in the O’Moore County.