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Hurler of the Year | Jamesie O'Connor runs the rule over the best small ball players

Ciaran Bradley
Ciaran Bradley

12:14 16 Nov 2020

Jamesie O'Connor joined us to discuss all of the small ball action this weekend, as well as looking at the runners and riders for Hurler of the Year.

The All-Ireland quarter finals pit Tipperary against Galway, Waterford against Clare, a draw for the semi-finals would only be needed if Clare and Tipp progress.

Hurler of the Year: Tony Kelly?

"Magical," Jamesie said of the Clare man.

"I saw the three points: the one on either side and the one where he was practically on the end line and bent it in off his left side.

"I hadn't seen some of the other scores, and the one that he carried half the length of the pitch and struck into a near-gale, and the goal where he times the run and it is a beautiful finish.

"Awful stuff from an awful player - he is in the form of his life and it bodes well for Clare. At the moment, he is carrying the team on his back and it is just magical to watch."

Jamesie believes that Kelly's performances are all the more jarring given the playing conditions of many of the pitches.

"There are a lot of miles on the clock - it feels like he's been around forever.

"The performance levels are just different planet stuff. Seventeen points; 1-15 is just unbelievable from a guy who isn't playing as an inside forward all the time.

"He is just exceptional at the moment and he is going to take serious watching for [Waterford.]"

Hurler of the Year contenders

Is Kelly going to win the most prestigious individual award?

"He is a contender, certainly at the moment. Cian Lynch is in brilliant form for Limerick, Gearóid Hegarty is in brilliant form for Limerick.

"There are other guys that in great form: TJ [Reid] still, Aaron Gillane is obviously still doing it.

"You look at Tadhg de Búrca [...] Tony is in the mix because of what he has done. Especially in Portlaoise, Micheál Donoghue called it 'ridiculous', which summed it up."

How will the quarter-finals pan out for the counties involved?

"What these guys are doing, they are coming in the cold and wet, they may not have shower facilities, meeting are being held in the stand and they're being handed a box of food to have in the car on the way home.

"For the Mayo and Donegal lads, the distances they are having to travel is exceptional. There is no adulation from the crowds, there is none of that buzz being provided by packed stadiums.

"Look at the entertainment they are providing: they deserve huge, huge credit."

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