Former Tipperary All-Ireland winner Shane McGrath reckons Padraig Mannion is 'nailed on' for hurler of the year - unless Aaron Gillane can produce something special in the All-Ireland final.
Mannion, an All Star in 2017, has been acclaimed as one of Galway's most consistent performers in their quest to retain the title.
On Sunday, Mannion operated largely as a spare man in defence, collecting a mountain of ball in his side's one-point win over Clare in Thurles.
Speaking on 2fm's Game On, McGrath said he felt it was a battle between Mannion and Gillane for the hurler of the year award.
"Everybody talks about Daithí Burke and Gearoid McInerney. They're unbelievable. But Padraig Mannion...
"I think, unless Aaron Gillane gets man of the match in the All-Ireland final, and he's the other front-runner, Padraig Mannion is nailed on for hurler of the year.
"It was a brilliant move from Michéal Donoghue to make him the sweeper yesterday because he is so comfortable on the ball. It's heads up hurling with him all the time.
"He's looking for the space. They nullified Colm Galvin's effect yesterday to the point where the Clare management switched back to 15 on 15.
"But Padraig Mannion was just immense yesterday. He is one of the main reasons Galway are back in the All-Ireland final."
McGrath also believes that many previous Galway teams would not still be standing in the championship had they to weather the challenges Donoghue's side has encountered this year.
"The Galway team of four or five years ago would be out of the championship at this stage. This is a different team. Michéal Donoghue is a top guy. I worked with him for two years and you could see this guy is a winner.
"He was a winner with Clarinbridge when he coached them to the All-Ireland club title. He gets the best out of players, he has a fantastic team around him. And these guys are winners, they were winners at minor and Under-21.
"They have shown passages of brilliance. 1-09 in 18 minutes against Clare yesterday, 12 points ahead against Kilkenny at one stage. They're coming to the crescendo now and I think we could see the best performance of the year in the All-Ireland final.
"They were by far the better team in last year's All-Ireland final and Waterford got a couple of goals to bring them back into it.
"I think they're building up to one of their biggest performances of the year."