Macauley and Cluxton spearhead Dubs' dozen All Star nominations
DUBLIN's All-Ireland-winning captain Stephen Cluxton and midfielder Michael Darragh Macauley are in the running for Footballer of the Year, but the surprise is the Mayo player who is competing with them.
Mayo's 'Mr Versatility' Keith Higgins was tipped to make the final three, but appears to have suffered for his adaptability and being switched from defence to attack several times this summer.
His team-mate Lee Keegan has got the nod ahead of him on the basis of a super season at wing-back and a particularly good All-Ireland final in which he consistently took the fight to Dublin.
The Ballintubber ace, the season's top scorer on 6-22, has been nominated again, but it looks likely to go to one of the two young Dubs who have been nominated – wing-back Jack McCaffrey or corner-forward Paul Mannion.
Elsewhere, there were few surprises in this year's football All Star nominations, but Cavan will be particularly chuffed to have received three nominees – Killian Clarke, Cian Mackey and Martin Dunne. And a fourth Breffni native, Lorcan Mulvey, was nominated after leading London to a historic Connacht final.
Dublin lead the way with 12 nominations and their only All-Ireland final starters not to get the nod were corner-backs Philly McMahon and Jonny Cooper and centre-back Ger Brennan.
Eyebrows will be raised that Cian O'Sullivan, who played much of his season at midfield, is nominated instead of Brennan at centre-back where he deputised at times.
Mayo were next with 10 nominations and, tellingly, that included five of their six defenders, their goalkeeper and the O'Shea brothers in midfield, but only one of their forwards (O'Connor), a reflection of their shooting problems in the All-Ireland final.
Monaghan's first Ulster senior title since 1988 saw six Farney footballers nominated – goalkeeper Rory Beggan, full-backs Drew Wylie and Colin Walshe, half-back Dessie Mone, midfielder Darren Hughes and Conor McManus.
This year's beaten All-Ireland semi-finalists Kerry and Tyrone landed five and four nominations respectively and, equally telling, is the fact that the Kingdom's five includes only one defender (Marc ó Sé).
Beaten provincial finalists Cork, London, Donegal (Colm McFadden) and Meath (Mickey Newman), plus Galway (Paul Conroy), all received a single nomination and the Rebels' only nominee is actually former Antrim footballer James Loughrey, who moved to Cork this season and starred for them at wing-back.
There were no nominees from Kildare and only a dozen of last year's nominees are included in the list of 45. The final 15 selection will be revealed, live on television, on Friday, November 8 at the All Star banquet in Croke Park.
2013 Football All Star nominees
Goalkeepers: S Cluxton (Dublin),
R Hennelly (Mayo), R Beggan (Monaghan).
Full-backs: R O'Carroll (Dublin),
G Cafferkey, K Higgins, C Barrett (Mayo),
C Walsh, D Wylie (Monaghan), K Clarke (Cavan), C McCarron (Tyrone), M ó Sé (Kerry). Half-backs: C Gormley (Tyrone),
C Boyle, L Keegan, D Vaughan (Mayo),
C O'Sullivan, J McCarthy, J McCaffrey (Dublin); D Mone (Monaghan), J Loughrey (Cork). Midfielders: MD Macauley (Dublin),
A O'Shea, S O'Shea (Mayo), D Hughes (Monaghan), P Conroy (Galway), A Maher (Kerry). Half-forwards: S Cavanagh, Matthew Donnelly (Tyrone), C Cooper,
D Walsh (Kerry), C Mackey (Cavan), P Flynn,
D Connolly, C Kilkenny (Dublin), L Mulvey (London). Full-forwards: B Brogan,
P Mannion, P Andrews (Dublin),
J O'Donoghue (Kerry), M Dunne (Cavan),
C McManus (Monaghan), C O'Connor (Mayo), C McFadden (Donegal), M Newman (Meath).
Player of the Year nominees
MD Macauley (Dublin), S Cluxton (Dublin),
L Keegan (Mayo).
Young Player of Year nominees
C O'Connor (Mayo), J McCaffrey (Dublin),
P Mannion (Dublin).