Limerick leader Diarmaid Byrnes and Kerry football king David Clifford were tonight crowned as the PwC Players of the Year in hurling and football for 2022 at a gala black-tie function in Dublin’s Convention Centre.
The Limerick hurlers who captured a third straight Liam MacCarthy Cup earlier this year have also been recognised with seven places on the PwC All-Stars in Hurling 2022, matching the haul of football champions Kerry on the selection announced on Thursday.
The big individual prizes on the night are the overall PwC GAA GPA Player and Young Players of the Year awards – which are voted for by the inter-county players themselves.
Diarmaid Byrnes was a popular choice coming at the end of a season that also saw him win a third straight PwC all-star at wing back. His consistency in his defensive duty and his phenomenal long-range accuracy makes him an invaluable member of this all-conquering Treaty side.
His selection means that his Patrickswell club have the honour of retaining the Hurler of the Year award after Cian Lynch won the 2021 accolade to go with the overall award he received in 2018.
Mikey Butler from O’Loughlin Gaels is the PwC GAA GPA Young Hurler of the Year. He cemented his place on the Kilkenny senior team this year and won rave reviews for the tenacity that also earned him the corner back award.
Team of the year
Magnificent All-Ireland champions Limerick are the undisputed benchmark in hurling right now and dominate the high-quality list of the final 15 announced tonight.
All seven of the Limerick players named pick up their second or third individual awards to illustrate their influence in recent seasons.
Kilkenny’s four-man contingent are led by the great TJ Reid who now becomes a six-time hurling All-Star and is joined by first-timers Mikey Butler and Huw Lawlor in defence and his Ballyhale Shamrocks clubmate Adrian Mullen in midfield – who forms a novel pairing with Clare’s David Fitzgerald.
Banner genius Tony Kelly collects his fourth All-Star of his career and is joined in the attack by Shane O’Donnell who wins his first PwC All-Star following a brilliant comeback season after he had taken time out last year to recover from concussion.
Galway’s sole representative is defensive star Pádraic Mannion, who collects the third award of his great career.