Best Hurlers of all time: Ultimate VX 2000-2020
We’ve already compiled our list of the best football XV of the past two decades, so now it’s time to compile our list of the best hurlers of all time: 2010-2020.
It was an era dominated by Brian Cody’s relentless Kilkenny, who captured 11 Liam McCarthy Cups in that time. The Cats produced some of the game’s greatest players in that era too.
While Tipperary (4), Cork (2), Limerick (2), Clare and Galway all enjoyed their days in the sun in the 20 odd years as well.
Trying to pick a top 15 players was every bit as difficult, if not more, than the footballers and we know some will be disappointed and aggrieved with our decisions!
It’s a game of opinions after all.
So here goes.
Best Hurlers of all Time
1. Goalkeeper: Eoin Murphy (Kilkenny)
There have been an emergence of some incredible goalkeepers over the past 20 years but Kilkenny’s Eoin Murphy comes out on top of the lot. He beats off still competition from the likes of Donal Óg Cusack, Anthony Nash and Nicky Quaid, Murphy raised the bar, particularly in the second half of the decade.
Four All-Irelands and 3 All Stars is a good showing too.
Full Back Line
2. Right Corner Back: Paul Murphy (Kilkenny)
The army man won four All-Irelands and four All Stars in his first five incredible years with the Cats!
A former Hurler of the Year nominee, Murphy was an absolute all-rounded defender that could man-mark the best, dictate the skies and hassle and harry with the very best.
A shout out to Jackie Tyrell and Noel Connors too, but Murphy is a too strong.
3. Full Back: Daithi Burke (Galway)
Although he won only one All-Ireland title compared to his competitors for this position, Burke is undoubtedly one of the best full backs the game has seen.
A physical specimen, he was a key figure as Galway ended their wait for the Liam McCarthy in 2017 and won four consecutive All Stars between 2015 and 2018.
A dual star too with Corofin, Burke was tough, skilful and smart – a powerful trio.
4. Left Corner Back: JJ Delaney (Kilkenny)
There is fierce competitiveness in the full back line, especially from the Kilkenny boys, but Delaney was a nailed down starter and takes the last jersey.
One of the finest defenders to ever play the game, Delaney finished his illustrious career with nine All-Ireland titles and seven All Stars.
Although he played a lot of his career in the half back line too, he was versatile anywhere in the defence.
Half Back Line
5. Right Wing Back: Tommy Walsh (Kilkenny)
The man from Tullaroan was small in stature but huge in determination, desire and skill.
He had an affable ability to fly through the skies and pluck the sliotar before driving his team on and raising the roof of Croke Park. A player that was loved by all counties, not just his own.
Nine All-Ireland titles, nine All Stars and a former Hurler of the Year is as good an innings and you will find.
6. Centre Back: Padraic Maher (Tipperary)
Will go down as one of Tipperary’s greatest ever, the indestructible Maher earned six All Stars during his time with Tipp.
His accuracy from play, where he could set up attacks from deep inside his own half made him such a dangerous weapon.
Known and feared for his physical stature, Maher also had consistency and longevity during his three All-Ireland titles.
7. Left Wing Back: Austin Gleeson (Waterford)
The versatility of the Waterford ace is what has earned him a playmaking role in the half back line.
Gleeson can play in any position you want given his exceptionally high skill level, workrate and pace.
Doesn’t have the trophy cabinet to match some of the others on this team, his ability to create something magically out of nothing is something we couldn’t ignore.
8. David Burke (Galway)
Captain of their 2017 All-Ireland winning team, Burke was a player who product at least an 8/10 performance every single game.
The St Thomas clubman won four All Stars since breaking onto the scene in 2010 and is one of the finest long range shooters in the game.
A rock who will sit in, defend and do all the unfashionable stuff just as well as he can hit some of the best scores you will ever see.
9. Tony Kelly (Clare)
Kelly has managed to get the nod ahead of Kilkenny’s Michael Fennelly and that in itself says enough about how highly we rate him.
The Ballyea man won a Hurler of the Year and Young Hurley of the Year in the last decade and inspired the Banner win to a famous All-Ireland in 2013.
Kelly can and has won games on his own and has a long career of him yet.
Half Forward Line
10. Right Half Forward: Noel McGrath (Tipperary)
McGrath’s vision and passing accuracy was a joy to behold.
He overcame a battle with testicular cancer in 2015 and bounced back an even better player, proving pivotal around the middle of the field.
Young Hurler of the Year in 2009 as a corner-forward, McGrath was recently named captain for 2023.
11. Centre Half Forward: Joe Canning (Galway)
Galway’s greatest every hurler, Canning was so good he became universally known throughout the game as just ‘Joe’.
His talents and efforts for Galway warrant more than just the one All-Ireland, and no one will forget his winning point against Tipperary in 2017 was special, as was his ability to hit sideline cuts.
His older brother, Ollie, isn’t far off the pace for this team in the corner back role, but Joe was the real star in a talented family.
12. Left Half Forward: TJ Reid (Kilkenny)
Like Canning, Reid is so good he is only referred to by his first name such is his profile.
The Kilkenny ace and Ballyhale clubman is arguably the hurler of the 2010-2020 decade and is still showing no signs of slowing down.
TJ has hit 28-477 for Kilkenny and is one of the greatest forwards of all time with 7 Celtic Crosses and 6 All Stars and counting.
Full Forward Line
13. Right Corner Forward: Seamus Callanan (Tipperary)
Callinan was a colossal for Tipp’ since he burst onto the scene in 2009.
Almost unmarkable on his day, Callinan inspired his county to three All-Ireland titles, Callinan scored a goal in every championship game (8) in 2019 as Tipp’ won the Liam McCarthy.
Four times nominated for Hurler of the Year and once a winner, the Drom & Inch man will go down in Tipp’ hurling folklore.
14. Full Forward: Henry Shefflin (Kilkenny)
King Henry is arguably the greatest of the great; widely considered to be the best every amongst his peers and former teammates and opponents.
The only player every to win Hurler of the Year on three occasions (’02, ’06 and ’12), his 11 All Stars and ten All-Ireland titles show his dominance across a long period of time.
Kilkenny’s all-time leading scorer with 27-484, Shefflin was and still is, one of the most naturally talented players to ever pick up a hurl.
15. Left Corner Forward: Patrick Horgan (Cork)
This decision was one of the most difficult on the team, particulatly given Patrick Horgan is nudging out players who have collected far more silverware.
However, that wasn’t part of the criteria to picking this team and that’s why we can’t ignore Horgan.
Deadly in front of goal and from the dead ball, Cork’s inability to win an All-Ireland wasn’t because of Horgan’s lack of efforts or talents.
The Glen man is a three time All Star and aging like a fine wine.
Nicky Quaid (Limerick)
Richie Hogan (Kilkenny)
Brendan Maher (Tipperary)
Michael Fennelly (Kilkenny)
Noel Connors (Waterford)
Ben O’Connor (Cork)
John Mullane (Waterford)
Phew… we’re glad that’s over.
The standard was incredible and some of the decisions we made were not easy.
Have an opinion? Let us know.