GAA Betting: Who Is Favourite To Win Hurler Of The Year?
Now that we are at the conclusion of the 2022 All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship, betting sites are speculating on who will take home the game’s biggest individual honour - the Hurler of the Year award.
With just one game remaining in the Championship the chance to stake a claim is now extremely limited for the chasing pack, but it is generally a market where knowledgeable GAA followers can take advantage of some generous prices.
With only Limerick and Kilkenny still left in the hunt, the candidates for the top gong have narrowed down. But, there is one clear favourite - who hails from the Treaty County - leading the way at the moment.
Let’s have a look at who is likely to score the Hurler of the Year award, according to the odds.
Amazing Aaron Gillane Leading The Pack
It looked for all the world for most of the season that this award was heading to Clare, and Tony Kelly's mantelpiece, at the end of the season.
However, an uncharacteristic poor outing in the Banner County's dismal semi-final defeat to Kilkenny appears to have ended the chances of the Ballyea magician.
So, a new contender - from the hurling stronghold of Partrickswell - has moved to the front of the pack.
Aaron Gillane has been Limerick's leading light in the inside forward line for a long while now, as nearly every top corner back has tried and failed to stop him this season.
Aaron Gillane with the opening goal at the TUS Gaelic Grounds— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) May 8, 2022
Highlights on #TheSundayGame from 9.30pm
📻https://t.co/fTWa53ZKqq #RTEGAA pic.twitter.com/HHt86PCJGD
Gillane has grabbed a nifty total of 3-40 in this year's Championship from just five games to date, so it’s little wonder that he is heading the betting at 7/2 with GAA betting sites.
The Limerick attacker picked off 10 points in the Munster final epic against Clare earlier this year, but it was his six points from play (eight in total) in a stunning solo performance in the All-Ireland semi-final with Galway that has really pushed him to the head of the betting.
The fact Gillane has never won the gong actually stands in his favour, as the judges tend to like to add a new face to the winner’s roster rather than giving it to someone who has previously won it.
A decent final outing and a Limerick victory should be enough for Gillane to not only pick up his fourth All-Ireland medal, but also his first ever Hurler of the Year award.
Limerick Defensive Duo Next On The Hitlist
Given that Limerick are favourites to win Sunday's All-Ireland final, it’s no shock to see a pair of Treaty County players next in the betting.
Wing-back Diarmaid Byrnes and corner-back Barry Nash can be found at 9/2 and 5/1 respectively with Paddy Power.
Byrnes has yet again not only been brilliant in general play, but has also been rock solid when it comes to his added duty of landing long rang frees for John Kiely’s men.
He, along with Nash, will be hungry to get their hands on Kilkenny's forwards in the All-Ireland final on Sunday, July 17.
Meanwhile, Nash has been particularly impressive in a position where he has often been overshadowed by his county colleague Sean Finn.
Despite being one of the toughest defenders in the sport, the South Liberties clubman has even shown an eye for a score this term - landing four points in the Championship.
However, it must be pointed out that their hopes come with a caveat. The Hurler of the Year honour tends to be very forward-biased, and no defender has won the award since Kilkenny’s Tommy Walsh did in 2009.
Flying Kilkenny Forwards In With A Shout
We have a former award winner amongst the next two positions in the betting when it comes to this year’s prize, in the form of TJ Reid (2015).
Reid has long carried Kilkenny’s hopes on his shoulders since the great Henry Shefflin retired after the 2014 intercounty season.
He has scored a whopping total of 2-56 so far in this season’s Championship, and if you fancy Liam MacCarthy to end up outside the Munster boundaries, he could be sneaky value at 13/2 with BoyleSports.
Reid needs just two points in Sunday's final to take an almost uncatchable lead as this season's top scorer in the Hurling Championship and if the Cats win their first All-Ireland since 2015, then his current price will look very generous.
Like the quiet assassin he is, Adrian Mullen has been going about his business in a quiet but deadly manner this season.
The Ballyhale Shamrocks forward has been averaging 3.33 points from play per game in this year's Championship, but it's his last two outings that have left their mark on this market.
He landed four points in the Leinster final as Kilkenny avenged their earlier round robin defeat to Galway, and he must have had Brian Cody smiling to himself under his peaked cap as he watched Mullen torment Clare in the All-Ireland semi-final - scoring five points from play in the process.
You'll find Mullen at 7/1 with Betfair to take home the award this year and he is certainly in the mix for it.
Don't sleep on the chances of Sean Finn winning Hurler of the Year at 12/1 with William Hill.
While his fellow corner-back Barry Nash has been getting a lot of the plaudits this season, Finn has been beavering away with his usual efficient excellence on the other side of the pitch.
He is widely regarded as the best player in his position in the country over the last few seasons, so it's impossible to rule him out.
Finally, we come to Mikey Butler of Kilkenny, and any man that can keep Tony Kelly quiet deserves a medal, never mind an award.
Thwarting the attacking threat of Clare's Tony Kelly is almost impossible – unless you have the services of a phenomenal Butler at your disposal. #TheSundayGame #RTEGAA pic.twitter.com/e6AUu0WQP6— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) July 3, 2022
As mentioned above, Kelly came into the All-Ireland semi-final with Kilkenny as an untouchable favourite to be named the country's best hurler this season and he left that game not even listed in the betting anymore.
That was all thanks to a ruthless man-marking display from Butler, who - to his credit - has been doing that to marquee forwards all season. Now that Cian Lynch appears to be out of the final, Butler is likely to pick up Aaron Gillane on Sunday.
If he were to snuff out another Hurler of the Year favourite in the decider, he may land the award himself at 12/1 odds.
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