Shane Stapleton and Michael Verney try to identify the best midfielder in hurling — brought to you by 65Hurls.com.
There is no shortage of excellent midfielders in hurling just now.
Noel McGrath was unlucky to not be nominated for Hurler of the Year in 2019, and many felt he would have been a worthy winner after providing such a strong platform for Tipperary from between the two 65s.
Had he lifted the gong, it would have meant a midfielder retaining the award, as Cian Lynch of Limerick had been crowned the best in the game for 2018.
Rewind a year earlier to 2017, and two of the three men named in the three-man shortlist were Waterford centre-fielders: Jamie Barron and Kevin Moran.
Diarmuid O’Keeffe of Wexford won an All Star alongside McGrath last season, and is among the elite players in the game just now.
The list continues: Colm Galvin of Clare, Laois’ Paddy Purcell, Darragh O’Donovan and Will O’Donoghue in Limerick, while David McInerney has shown promise in his outings at midfielder for the Banner.
“Yeah, it’s something different,” said the Clare man earlier in 2020. “I’ve played there with the club (Tulla) but it’s totally different playing inter-county midfield.
“Still trying to find myself out there but enjoying it, and enjoying being beside Tony (Kelly) and in front of Pat (O’Connor) and a few of the boys.
”Just trying to work every day and figure out different things.”
Barron was in hard luck to not win Hurler of the Year in 2017, a season where he finished joint-second highest scorer for Waterford in the championship.
Austin Gleeson topped the Deise charts but Barron’s 3-10 from midfield was an exceptional return. His performances against Kilkenny, Cork and Galway during that campaign represented a high watermark in midfield play at that time.
Like Galvin of Clare, Barron is a swift and diminutive player, blessed with magical feet. McGrath and O’Donovan are orchestrators, while McInerney and O’Donoghue are powerhouses.
O’Keeffe moves up and down the field like a piston engine, Purcell has the pace to sear through a defence, while Lynch is a magican with all the tricks and scoring ability to match.
Click play at the top of the page to watch Shane Stapleton and Michael Verney debate these players’ merits, name the best midfielder, and their best pairings.