DESPITE losing the All-Ireland final to Tipperary, 11 Cork hurlers have been shortlisted for the Bord Gáis Energy Team of the Year and Mark Coleman is in the mix for Player of the Year.
Tipp picked up nine nominations along with Leinster champions Galway, while six Wexford hurlers are in contention.
Coleman goes up against Tipp's Ger Browne and Jake Morris and Galway's Fintan Burke for the top player accolade, which was collected last year by Limerick's Aaron Gillane.
The 45 nominees were picked by a panel of judges chaired by Bord Gáis Energy Sports Ambassador Ger Cunningham alongside Bord Gáis Energy #HurlingToTheCore Ambassador Joe Canning, Waterford legend Ken McGrath and TG4’s Micheál Ó Domhnaill.
Cork midfielder Conor Cahalane, who was a sub in three games but started the final against the Premier and hit 1-3 from play, is a leading candidate for an award, along with the likes of corner-back Niall O'Leary and wing-forward Robbie O'Flynn. Three players are in the mix for each award, with six vying for the two midfield berths, and the other Rebels shortlisted are Ger Collins, David Lowney, Billy Hennessy, Darragh Fitzgibbon, Shane Kingston and Tim O'Mahony.
Missing out are Jack O'Connor, Liam Healy, David Griffin and Eoghan Murphy, with the latter very unlucky not to be included as he was one of the few members of the team to hurl well in the first half of the disappointing defeat to Tipp.
Ger Cunningham said: “It’s a mark of the new structure for the U-21 grade in 2018 that the All-Ireland champions have less nominees than the team they beat in the final. Tipp and Cork met twice in the championship and while the All-Ireland final was a close-run affair, the Munster final was very one-sided in Cork’s favour.
“That’s taking nothing away from the deserved All-Ireland champions who certainly had many outstanding performers. This is recognised not only in the Team of the Year nominations but also by the fact they’ve had two players make the four-man shortlist for Player of the Year.
“In total 10 counties are represented on the shortlist and we look forward to the winners being announced next month. I’m sure there will be plenty of debate between now and then.”
The winners will be announced on Wednesday, October 17.
Goalkeepers: Billy Nolan (Waterford), Barry Hogan (Tipperary), Ger Collins (Cork)
Right Corner Back: Paddy Smyth (Dublin), David Lowney (Cork), Damien Reck (Wexford)
Full Back: Darren Byrne (Wexford), Jack Fitzpatrick (Galway), Brian McGrath (Tipperary)
Left Corner Back: Killian O’Dwyer (Tipperary), Shane Bannon (Galway), Niall O’Leary (Cork)
Right Half Back: Fintan Burke (Galway), Conor Prunty (Waterford), Billy Hennessy (Cork)
Centre Back: Kyle Hayes (Limerick), Make Coleman (Cork), Robert Byrne (Tipperary)
Left Half Back: Dylan Quirke (Tipperary), Jack Grealish (Galway), Ian Carty (Wexford)
Midfield: Darragh Fitzgibbon (Cork), Richie Leahy (Kilkenny), Tom Monaghan (Galway), Seán Loftus (Galway), Ger Browne (Tipperary), Conor Cahalane (Cork)
Right Half Forward: Brian Ryan (Limerick), Robbie O’Flynn (Cork), Joe O’Connor (Wexford)
Centre Forward: Jerome Cahill (Tipperary), Rory O’Connor (Wexford), Declan Dalton (Cork)
Left Half Forward: Killian Doyle (Westmeath), Ciaran Fahy (Galway), Shane Kingston (Cork)
Right Corner Forward: Jake Morris (Tipperary), Kevin Cooney (Galway), Colin Currie (Dublin)
Full Forward: Tim O’Mahony (Cork), John Donnelly (Kilkenny), Mark Kehoe (Tipperary)
Left Corner Forward: Simon Casey (Wexford), Evan Niland (Galway), Chris Nolan (Carlow)
Player of the Year Ger Browne (Tipperary) Fintan Burke (Galway) Mark Coleman (Cork) Jake Morris (Tipperary)