Top 10 Hurling moments of 2021
By John Harrington
There was no shortage of memorable moments in a 2021 inter-county Gaelic Football season that packed a lot of drama into a condensed time-frame.
Here, in no particular order, are ten of the best.
Kyle Hayes’s Munster Final goal v Tipperary
Limerick defender Kyle Hayes’ goal for Limerick against Tipperary in the Munster SHC Final was heady distillation of power, pace and skill. Picking the ball up in his own half of the field he set off on a turbo-charged solo-run that saw him hop the ball on the ground twice and leave Brendan Maher and Dan McCormack in his wake before smashing the sliotar to the net for a spectacular goal.
Walter Walsh goal settles epic Leinster SHC semi-final
The Leinster SHC semi-final between Kilkenny and Wexford was arguably the best hurling match of the year. A contest that see-sawed this way and that and which went to extra-time was finally settled by a terrific Walter Walsh goal when he soared high to claim the sliotar on the wing, charged towards goal, and finished beautifully with a batted finish from close-range.
Eoin Murphy’s save from Jack O’Connor
Kilkenny goalkeeper Eoin Murphy’s save from Cork’s Jack O’Connor in the All-Ireland SHC semi-final was so good that you needed to view the slow-motion replay to be sure he actually got this tip of his hurley to the ball to deflect it onto the post while diving across his goal at full-length.
Patrick Collins' save from Tony Kelly
Trailing by two points in the final minute of injury-time against Cork in Round 2 of the All-Ireland SHC qualifiers, Clare’s Tony Kelly looked like he was about to win the match for the banner county when the raced through on goal. His shot was well struck, but Patrick Collins pulled off a brilliant reflex save to assure Cork’s passage through to the All-Ireland SHC quarter-finals.
Limerick’s All-Ireland SHC performance
Limerick’s All-Ireland SHC Final performance was simply remarkable. Their score of 3-32 set a new high-scoring record for a Final, and their half-time score of 3-18 would have been enough to beat the losing team in all but three All-Ireland Finals in history.
Shane Kingston’s super-sub performance against Kilkenny
Being dropped for the All-Ireland SHC semi-final against Kilkenny clearly lit a fire in Shane Kingston’s belly. He was introduced after 42 minutes of the match and went on to score seven points from play, many of them spectacular, to play a starring role in Cork’s extra-time victory.
Tony Kelly’s point against Cork
Clare wizard Tony Kelly produced a scrapbook of classy scores in this year’s Championship, but the best of the lot was his outrageous point against Cork in Round 2 of the All-Ireland SHC Qualifiers when he pirouetted past Niall O’Leary while flicking the ball over his head and then a couple of seconds later drove the ball over the bar from 50 yards out on the left sideline.
Joe Canning’s last moment of genius as a county hurler
Joe Canning has given hurling fans many special moments to savour over the course of his career and he signed off on a high-note in his last championship match for Galway which came against Waterford in this year’s All-Ireland Qualifiers. His delightful pass that led to a Jason Flynn goal which briefly threatened an unlikely Galway comeback was a work of art.
All-Ireland Hurling Final parade
If you were in Croke Park for this year’s All-Ireland SHC Final the hairs surely stood up on the back of your neck when the teams paraded around the pitch. The noise and atmosphere the crowd created was remarkable, and all the more special because a year previously no supporters were in Croke Park for All-Ireland Finals.
Fermanagh win Lory Meagher Cup
Fermanagh produced a brilliant display of hurling to convincingly beat Cavan in this year’s Lory Meagher Cup Final. It was all the more remarkable for the fact that there’s only one senior hurling club in the county, Lisbellaw, from which they draw the vast majority of their panel.