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Carlow to the fore in Joe McDonagh Team of the Year

Carlow goalkeeper Brian Tracey celebrates after the Joe McDonagh Cup Final. Photo by Stephen Marken/Sportsfile

Carlow goalkeeper Brian Tracey celebrates after the Joe McDonagh Cup Final. Photo by Stephen Marken/Sportsfile

The Carlow hurlers are the dominant force in the 2023 Joe McDonagh Team of the Year, with the two-time victors claiming a magnificent seven spots in this star-studded selection, representing five counties.

The Dolmen County are represented in every line of the team, with goalkeeper Brian Tracey joined by the busy Jack McCullagh and Diarmuid Byrne in defence, the point scoring James Doyle in midfield, and the lethal finishing forwards that are Chris Nolan, Paddy Boland, and Martin Kavanagh.

Runners-up Offaly take up five places on the team, with their captain Jason Sampson being joined by the powerful Ciarán Burke and the tigerish Ben Conneely in defence, with Belmont man David Nally in midfield and the high-scoring Eoghan Cahill named among the forwards.

Kerry man Fionán Mackessy picks up his fourth consecutive award, having also claimed the M. Donnelly Poc fada All-Ireland title this year, along with playing a starring role in Ireland’s recent triumph over Scotland in the revived Hurling-Shinty International.

Explosive Laois forward Stephen Maher is named in the number 10 jersey, while Down sharpshooter Pearse Óg McCrickard is named on the other wing.

Uachtarán CLG Larry McCarthy said: “This year’s Carlow-Offaly Joe McDonagh Cup final was an exceptional match and a fitting finale to what was yet another exciting campaign. My congratulations to those players who have been selected in recognition of their outstanding displays and I know these awards will be an honour that is celebrated by your families and clubs.”

Tom Parsons, GPA CEO, said: “The difference between winning and losing in sport can come down to the smallest of differences. Carlow’s triumph in this season’s Joe McDonagh Cup is proof of this again, if proof were needed. Two draws in the round robin stages were followed by a one-point win in the final after extra-time. Fine margins can make a massive difference.

“Big performances from individual players can also make a big difference when the pressure is on. To their peers and to the selection committee seven Carlow men came up with those big moments when it mattered most. To them, and to their fellow winners from Offaly, Kerry, Down and Laois, congratulations on all you have achieved or yourselves, your teams, your clubs, your counties and your supporters in 2023.”

Players from the Joe McDonagh Cup were asked to nominate outstanding performers in the competition, with an independent selection committee adjudicating on the final team based on player performances, supported by video footage and county nominations.

The awards will be presented at a gala black-tie function in Croke Park this Friday night. The show will be streamed live on gaa.ie from 7pm and will also feature the awards for the Ring, Rackard and Meagher Champion 15 Team of the Year and the Tailteann Cup Team of the Year - as well as the presentation of the overall Players of the Year in these championships.

Tomorrow will see the Tailteann Cup team of the year announced.

Joe McDonagh TOTY Selection – Carlow (7) Offaly (5) Kerry (1) Laois (1) Down (1)

1. Brian Tracey (Carlow)

2. Jack McCullagh (Carlow)

3. Ciarán Burke (Offaly)

4. Ben Conneely (Offaly)

5. Jason Sampson (Offaly)

6. Fionán Mackessy (Kerry)

7. Diarmuid Byrne (Carlow)

8. James Doyle (Carlow)

9. David Nally (Offaly)

10. Stephen Maher (Laois)

11. Chris Nolan (Carlow)

12. Pearse Óg McCrickard (Down)

13. Paddy Boland (Carlow)

14. Martin Kavanagh (Carlow)

15. Eoghan Cahill (Offaly)