BY NIALL SHERRY
TJ gets All-Star No.6 as Mikey Butler is named Young Hurler of the Year
At a star-studded evening at the National Convention Centre in Dublin last Friday night, four members of Brian Cody’s last ever Kilkenny All-Ireland Final side picked up All-Star awards in recognition of their outstanding performances in the 2022 Championship.
The All-Stars scheme was first held in 1971 and the teams in both hurling and football are selected by a panel of GAA journalists from across print, radio, digital, and broadcast media, chaired by Uachtarán CLG.
TJ Reid, Adrian Mullen, Huw Lawlor and Mikey Butler were the deserved recipients and secured places on the 2022 PwC All-Star team of the year. For Butler, it would be a double celebration as the diminutive defender was also named Young Hurler of the Year for 2022, having had a remarkable breakthrough season in the black and amber and succeeds Eoin Cody who held this award for the past two years.
For the winner’s respective clubs, Shamrocks Ballyhale and O’Loughlin Gaels, it was a proud night as all the work that goes in, week-in, week-out was acknowledged on the national stage.
For three of Kilkenny’s winners, it was a first taste of All-Star success, whereas for TJ Reid, it would be the sixth time the legendary forward has been recognised for his exceptional performances for his county. 2022 was no different, with TJ spear-heading the bid to bring the Liam McCarthy Cup back to Noreside for the first time since 2015.
While the Cats fell just short following an epic battle with Limerick, TJ Reid hit nine points in the final defeat and finished overall top scorer in the 2022 hurling championship with an impressive total of 2-65, eight clear of his nearest rival, Galway’s Joseph Cooney.
Reid’s Ballyhale club mate and former county captain, Adrian Mullen was selected in midfield as he collected his first award. Mullen has really blossomed into a first inter-county hurler, having burst onto the scene and appears to be reveling without the extra responsibility of the captaincy. Moreover, Adrian is fit and free from the injuries that blighted his earlier career.
Mullen puts in an incredible shift all over the park and is the ultimate team-player. Adrian also has the knack of scoring from distance and can mix it with the best of them. When the going gets tough, he isn’t afraid to get stuck in, a quality I really admire.
A former winner of the Young Hurler of the Year award in 2019, Adrian still has his best years ahead of him, and he will be crucial as the post –Brian Cody era takes shape under the guidance of new boss Derek Lyng.
For TJ and Adrian, they will put the awards in the cabinet and turn their focus to the Leinster Provincial Hurling Championship which for them begins on November 13th with a home fixture against Westmeath champions Castletown Geoghegan.
Alongside the Shamrocks Ballyhale duo, it would be the city slicker’s Huw Lawlor and Mikey Butler that joined the former in lifting the much-coveted awards.
Huw Lawlor richly deserved his full-back award. He is a Rolls-Royce of a defender and appears to glide through games, keeping the door well and truly shut on his attacking opponents. One of the defender’s greatest strengths lies in his ability to read the danger and snuff out the threat before it fully develops. For a tall man, Huw is also deceptively quick.
When required, Lawlor can also operate in the No.6 jersey and this versatility marks him out as a top-end defender. With Huw, it’s not all about the destructive side of defending, he has also shown himself to be an accurate passer of the sliotar and can help launch attacks from deep inside his own half.
Lawlor’s O’Loughlin’s defensive team mate, Mikey Butler was also honoured for his outstanding defensive displays as he more than earned his county stripes!
Butler has been a great find for the county and the 22-year-old could well be one of the main-stays in the Cats defence for years to come. One of his outstanding performances was keeping the great Tony Kelly of Clare quiet when Kilkenny met the Banner earlier this year. All defenders will tell you that limiting the effect that TK has on a game is anything but easy, but to Butler’s credit he reveled in the task and certainly came out on top when some may have expected otherwise.
Along with securing one of the corner-back spots on the All-Star team, Butler was also voted Young Hurler of the Year 2022, beating fellow Kilkenny man and former two-time winner Eoin Cody and Cork’s Ciaran Joyce to the accolade which is voted on by fellow players. Being recognised by those with whom you play with and battle against is a great achievement.
Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Larry McCarthy said: “The PwC All-Stars stand the test of time in reflecting the outstanding displays that define our Gaelic games season.
“Another magnificent hurling season has produced an All-Star team brimming with iconic talent, and they are ambassadors for all of our players and the clubs and volunteers who they proudly represent.
“I congratulate all of our winners and also salute our players of the year David and Diarmaid and young players Jack and Mikey for their deserving additional awards and thank PwC for their continuing support of this great GAA tradition.”
Tom Parsons, CEO of the GPA, added: “In reality, any of the 45 PwC All-Star hurling nominees would have made worthy winners and that just emphasises the level of performance that the final selection put in, to merit inclusion. Congratulations to the 15 winners, all of whom stood out in a year of excellent individual displays.
“A special word of congratulations to our PwC GAA/GPA Player of the Year and PwC GAA/GPA Young Player of the Year winners. To Diarmaid and Mikey in hurling and to David and Jack in football, you’ve been voted by your fellow players as being the standout performers in 2022. They know what it takes and for them you were the standard bearers this year. Very, very well done.”
Feargal O’Rourke, Managing Partner, PwC, said: “On behalf of everyone in PwC, I would like to congratulate all of the 2022 PwC All-Star Hurling team on their awards. To be chosen as one of the best 15 players in the country is a significant achievement and one that each of
them should be hugely proud of. Supporting the developing talent is a strategic imperative for PwC.
“We would also like to congratulate Kerry’s David Clifford and Limerick’s Diarmaid Byrnes, the winners of the PwC GAA/GPA Player of the Year awards for football and hurling respectively. As All-Ireland champions, to stand out above everyone else really is the mark of an outstanding season. And congratulations also to Galway’s Jack Glynn and Kilkenny’s Mikey Butler, the winners of the PwC GAA/GPA Young Player of the Year awards in football and hurling.”
Nickie Quaid (Effin, Limerick) (Previous winner in 2020)
Mikey Butler (O’Loughlin Gaels, Kilkenny)
Huw Lawlor (O’Loughlin Gaels, Kilkenny)
Barry Nash (South Liberties, Limerick) (Previous winner 2020, 2021
Diarmaid Byrnes (Patrickswell, Limerick) (Previous winner 2020, 2021)
Declan Hannon (Adare, Limerick) (Previous winner 2018, 2021)
Pádraic Mannion(Ahascragh-Fohenagh, Galway) (Previous winner 2017, 2018)
David Fitzgerald (Inagh-Kilnamona, Clare)
Adrian Mullen (Ballyhale Shamrocks, Kilkenny)
Gearóid Hegarty (St. Patrick’s, Limerick) (Previous winner 2020, 2021)
Kyle Hayes (Kildimo-Pallaskenry, Limerick) (Previous winner 2020, 2021)
Shane O’Donnell (Éire Óg, Clare)
Aaron Gillane (Patrickswell, Limerick) (Previous winner 2019, 2020)
TJ Reid (Ballyhale Shamrocks, Kilkenny) (Previous winner 2012, 2014, 2015, 2019, 2020)
Tony Kelly (Ballyea, Clare) (Previous winner 2013, 2020, 2021)
PwC GAA/GPA Footballer of the Year
David Clifford (Kerry)
PwC GAA/GPA Hurler of the Year
Diarmaid Byrnes (Limerick)
PwC GAA/GPA Young Footballer of the Year
Jack Glynn (Galway)
PwC GAA/GPA Young Hurler of the Year
Mikey Butler (Kilkenny)
>> SHERRY SAYS…
Four cracking players, four deserved awards. The icing on the cake, Mikey Butler being named Young Hurler of the Year 2022.
As you would expect, Limerick led the way with seven awards, and also had their scoring wing-back Diarmaid Byrnes named Hurler of the Year, succeeding county colleague Cian Lynch.
Glenmore’s Eoin Murphy was probably a little unlucky to lose out to the Treaty’s Nickie Quaid in the goalkeeper position, but Murphy will be back.
Along with the Treaty 7 and Cats 4, The Banner had three players chosen and the remaining spot went to the Tribesmen.
TJ picking up All-Star No.6 was richly deserved, Adrian Mullen also. The O’Loughlin’s duo of Huw Lawlor and Mikey Butler thoroughly deserving given the great defensive shifts both put in throughout the season.
While TJ may be in the twilight of his inter-county career, the other 3 gents have a lot of games left in the tank for the Cats. Derek Lyng will have some quality hurlers at his disposal next season. Roll on 2023.