There is no doubt that the last ten years have seen an evolution of hurling. Intercounty are some of the fastest and skilful hurlers we have seen to grace the field of play. Many stand out and it takes some serious skill, commitment and training to be at the top of the modern-day game. Dietary guidelines, strength and conditioning are now top of the agenda, God be with the days when it was a lap around the field and home for the spuds. No doubt this list is subjective to the reader however there is no denying the impact these 5 have had on the game over the last decade.
1. Henry Shefflin
Although the Kilkenny man has hung up his boots in the earlier part of the last decade we watched him turn out some incredible performances before his retirement in 2015. The Ballyhale Shamrocks club man is the most decorated hurler of all time. He has won 6 county titles, 4 Leinster and 3 All-Ireland medals at club level, 2 Fitzgibbon Cups with W.I.T. Afer 71 appearances at intercounty level he has won 13 Leinster, 6 National League and 10 All-Ireland medals. He also boosts 10 All-Stars and 3 Hurler of the Year awards and he is currently the top championship scorer of all time with an incredible tally of 28-485. In 2018 he took over the Ballyhale Shamrocks Senior Team with his brother Tommy winning 2 County, 2 Leinster and 1 All-Ireland title. Since retiring he is a regular on the Sunday Game.
When you think of Galway hurling in the last decade this is the man you think of. The skilful centre forward has won 6 county titles, 4 Connacht and 4 All Irelands with his club Portumna. He has also won a Fitzgibbon Cup with L.I.T. At intercounty level, he has made 60 appearances so far and has scored an impressive 27-473, with an almost certain chance of overtaking Henry Shefflins tally at the top as he continues to dominate the field of play. At Intercounty level he has won 3 Leinster, 2 National League and 1 All-Ireland medal. He won Hurler of the Year in 2017 and 5 coveted All-Star awards. Canning made his first appearance at Intercounty level when he scored 1-01 for the Galway Minors at the tender age of 15. Although plagued with injury in recent years he is now back in action and as spectators, we are lucky that he has plenty more to give yet.
3. TJ Reid
Another Kilkenny and Ballyhale Shamrocks player. Just like his fellow club man Henry Shefflin, Reid is also quite the decorated hurler. The talented centre forward has had success with his club, winning 9 County, 6 Leinster and 5 All-Ireland titles. He has also won 1 Fitzgibbon Cup medal with W.IT. The free taking maestro has appeared or his County 63 times and has banked an impressive 25-373. He has won 9 Leinster, 4 National League and 7 All-Irelands. He was named Hurler of the Year in 2015 and 4 All-Star awards. The successful gym owner is known for his pure love of the game and consistent work rate at developing his skills. Kilkenny manager Brian Cody said “He’d puck around forever. Training doesn’t stop for TJ, but it’s not just the training, it’s the hurling, out there pucking around – all that sort of stuff, he loves it…That’s what has turned him into the player he is”. At the age off 33 it looks like he still has plenty more fuel in the tank and shows no signs of stopping just yet.
4. Tony Kelly
Tony Kelly, the youngest on the list, is one of the most gifted centre forwards in modern-day hurling. Although he is not as decorated with titles as our other named hurlers this does not negate his natural-born talent for the sport. The Clare hurler plays his club hurling with Ballyea just South-West of Ennis where he has won 2 County titles and 1 Munster title. He has won 2 Fitzgibbon Cups with UL. At Intercounty level he has made 39 appearances and has racked up scores to the value of 5-182. He has won 1 National Hurling and 1 All-Ireland title but never a Munster medal, as his team won their All-Ireland in 2013 through the elusive ‘back door’ system. He also holds 2 U-21 All-Ireland medals. The Clare man has also won 2 All-Star awards and in 2013 he became the first player in history to win Young Hurler of the Year and Hurler of the Year in the same year, later achieved also by Waterford’s Austin Gleeson in 2016. With many more years left for this County star, from the recent displays seen, he may have his best years of hurling yet to come.
5. Seamus Callanan
Seamie, as he is also known, lines out to play his club hurling with Drom Inch. The Tipperary forward has won 5 Mid Tipperary Senior titles with his club and captained them to win 1 Tipperary County title in 2011. He made his championship debut for Tipperary in 2008 scoring 0-03 against Cork in the National Hurling League Final which they won. He has since went on to win 6 Munster and 3 All-Ireland medals for his county. His first All Ireland win was when he was introduced as a substitute, he won his second medal in 2016, giving a man of the match performance, scoring 0-13 (0-09 from play) and in 2019 he lifted the Liam McCarthy cup as Captain. The exceptional full-forward has won 4 All-Star awards and was nominated for Hurler of the Year four times finally winning out in 2019. He has made 55 appearances and scored an impressive 35-215. He is ranked number 5 as the most goals scored in the history of hurling behind, Nicky Rackard (59), Martin Kennedy (54), Matty Power (46) and Tony Doran (40). The only player near his tally of goals this century is fellow county man Lar Corbett with 29. With plenty more to give it is exciting to see how far he can move up that list.
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