All-Ireland champions Cork have been honoured with nine players on the 2021 Electric Ireland GAA Minor Hurling Team of the Year.
Noel Furlong’s side claimed the county’s first All-Ireland at the grade in 20 years and they did it in the utmost style, with the ten-point Munster semi-final win over Limerick being their narrowest winning margin.
Jack Leahy of Dungourney, who reigned supreme at full-forward throughout the campaign, landed a total of 4-41 across the four games played and he was named as the Player of the Year. member of the Cork Minor Hurling team has been named as the 2021 Electric Ireland Minor Hurling Player of the Year. The Dungourney forward had a major impact on this year’s Electric Ireland GAA Minor Hurling Championship, scoring a staggering 4-41 during Cork’s impressive journey to victory.
There were stars throughout the Cork team, though, and while nine of 15 on the all-star side is a strong return, there can be members of the team who feel hard-done-by, such was the spread of quality.
In goal, Paudie O’Sullivan of Fr O’Neills got the nod. While Cork put up prodigious scoring tallies, they only conceded two goals in four games and O’Sullivan was instrumental in that, showing good concentration levels when called upon.
His namesake Darragh of Ballinhassig was outstanding throughout, wearing the number two and looking after his primary duties in defence but also capable of getting forward to score. He had landed two points from play in the All-Ireland final before any Galway forward had got off the mark.
Next to him, geographically in the Carrigdhoun division and in the full-back line was Ballygarvan’s Kevin Lyons. He was a rock of composure, doing his job with little or no fuss and ensuring that the rearguard never came under too much pressure.
Cobh’s Timmy Wilk was another whose displays were a byword for excellence. A tenacious competitor at wing-back, he also filled in impressively at midfield in the Munster final against Waterford, scoring two points.
In the middle, Midleton’s Mikey Finn was a bundle of tireless energy, rarely making the wrong decision, providing Cork a solid base to work from. His performances got better with each passing game.
Cork opted for a three-man midfield, with William Buckley of the Barrs wearing 15 but slotting in alongside Finn and Cillian Tobin, who also excelled during the year and was unlucky to succumb to injury in the Munster final. Buckley, who had missed the Limerick game, was impeccable in his deeper role, though, capped with a man-of-the-match display in the final, scoring three points.
At number 10, Lisgoold’s Diarmuid Healy was the epitome of modern wing-forward play, summed up by his four points in the final coupled with endless industry to keep Cork on the front foot.
And then, at full-forward, Leahy led the Cork line to such a high standard that excellence was expected rather than hoped for. Got stronger as the All-Ireland final went on, with second-half points ensuring the Rebels pulled clear, leaving him with a personal tally of 0-7 to go with 3-9 against Clare, 1-14 against Limerick and 0-11 against Waterford.
Rounding out the team were two players from defeated All-Ireland finalists Galway and Leinster champions Kilkenny while defeated provincial finalists Waterford and Wexford had one each. Defender Tiarnan Leen was a star performer in Galway’s semi-final win over Kilkenny and coped as well as anybody could against Jack Leahy for long periods in the final, while centre-forward Micheál Power landed four points from play in the decider.
Kilkenny’s representatives were Gearóid Dunne in the half-back line and Harry Shine at number 12, while Waterford’s MVP Patrick Fitzgerald was placed at right corner-forward with Simon Roche of Wexford named at corner-forward after some heroic performances.
The winner of the 2021 Electric Ireland Minor Hurling Special Recognition Award is the Kildare minor hurling squad. On March 27, 67 members of the panel undertook a virtual run of 840km from Mizen Head to Malin Head and back to St Conleth’s Park in Newbridge to raise funds for Barretstown Children’s Charity, a local Kildare based charity that runs camps and programmes for children and their families living with serious illness and Kildare GAA. The fundraiser generated more than €24,000.
Paudie O’Sullivan (Cork and Fr O’Neills); Darragh O’Sullivan (Cork and Ballinhassig), Kevin Lyons (Cork and Ballygarvan), Tiarnan Leen (Galway and Craughwell); Gearóid Dunne (Kilkenny and Tullaroan), Ben O’Connor (Cork and St Finbarr’s), Timmy Wilk (Cork and Cobh); Mikey Finn (Cork and Midleton), William Buckley (Cork and St Finbarr’s); Diarmuid Healy (Cork and Lisgoold), Micheál Power (Galway and Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry), Harry Shine (Kilkenny and Dicksboro); Patrick Fitzgerald (Waterford and Ballygunner), Jack Leahy (Cork and Dungourney), Simon Roche (Wexford and Oulart The Ballagh).