Martin Breheny: Dubs' six of the best top my All Star list
Dublin 6; Mayo 5; Kerry 2; Tyrone 1; Monaghan 1
Published 25/09/2013 | 05:00
That's my breakdown for the football All Stars, which will be selected next month. Dublin are represented in every line except half-back where Mayo have a full hand in Lee Keegan, Donal Vaughan and Colm Boyle. Here's my full list of nominations (as per All Star format), plus the chosen 15.
Goalkeeper: Stephen Cluxton (Dublin), Robert Hennelly (Mayo), Paul Durcan (Donegal)
Tyrone debutant Niall Morgan was going very well at the end of the league, but a serious knee injury after the championship defeat by Donegal wrecked his season.
Cluxton had a good league and championship, even if the praise loaded on him for his kick-outs last Sunday must come with the query – what were Mayo up to that they failed to contest so many of his deliveries which were angled to the same general area? Overall, though, another solid year by Cluxton.
Hennelly stepped in as Mayo's third choice after injury ruled out David Clarke and Kenneth O'Malley and did extremely well, including last Sunday where his positioning for Dublin's first goal was the only question mark against him.
Durcan was one of the few Donegal players to retain his 2012 form, while Monaghan's Rory Beggan is unlucky to miss out on the top three.
Full-backs: Chris Barrett (Mayo), Ger Cafferkey (Mayo), Killian Clarke (Cavan), Conor Clarke (Tyrone), Keith Higgins (Mayo), Rory O'Carroll (Dublin), Hugh McGrillen (Kildare), Marc ó Sé (Kerry), Colin Walshe (Monaghan)
What to do with Keith Higgins? He was switched to the attack (where he did well) after the Connacht championship and remained there until half-time last Sunday, when a realignment saw him revert to defence. He deserves an All Star for his versatility alone.
O'Carroll's consistent solidity was again crucial for Dublin this season.
Cafferkey had some problems last Sunday, but also did a lot of good things.
However, the third spot goes to Monaghan's Colin Walshe. Top names who get to Croke Park fairly regularly tend to have an advantage over less high-profile contenders. Walsh was in the latter category, but had an excellent season as Monaghan clinched promotion to Division 2 and won the Ulster title.
Selection: Walshe, O'Carroll, Higgins
Half-backs: Colm Boyle (Mayo), Ger Brennan (Dublin), Conor Gormley (Tyrone), Lee Keegan (Mayo), Dessie Mone (Monaghan), Jack McCaffrey (Dublin), James McCarthy (Dublin), Tomas O Se (Kerry), Donal Vaughan (Mayo)
The all-Mayo trio get the nod, with Keegan and Boyle by far the most consistent wing-backs throughout the season. Vaughan's impact dipped somewhat last Sunday but overall, he had a fine year too at No 6.
The trio scored 2-14 between them on their attacking adventures over six games, a remarkable yield. McCaffrey was well on his way to an All Star in early August, but found life much tougher against Kerry and Mayo.
Selections: Keegan, Vaughan, Boyle
Midfield: Paul Conroy (Galway), Darren Hughes (Monaghan), Michael Darragh Macauley (Dublin), Aidan O'Shea (Mayo), Seamus O'Shea (Mayo), Cian O'Sullivan (Dublin).
Macauley was a strong contender for an All Star after the league and built on it consistently throughout the championship.
Favourite for the Footballer of the Year award in a volatile market where cases can be made for several players, he is unquestionably the first-choice midfielder on the basis of his consistency all season.
O'Sullivan also has a strong case for inclusion. He finished the season very strongly, displaying his best form last Sunday, first as a midfielder and later as a defender. Like Higgins, his versatility deserves to be rewarded.
Aidan O'Shea's form dipped in the All-Ireland semi-final and final from the highs of earlier on. He was superb against Donegal in the quarter-final and totally dominated Connacht, but there's reason to believe it was the worst western campaign for a very long time. His brother Seamus finished the season very well.
Selection: Macauley, O'Sullivan
Half-forwards: Sean Cavanagh (Tyrone), Diarmuid Connolly (Dublin), Colm Cooper (Kerry), Matthew Donnelly (Tyrone), Paul Flynn (Dublin), Ciaran Kilkenny (Dublin), Cian Mackey (Cavan), Kevin McLaughlin (Mayo), Donnchadh Walsh (Kerry)
Cooper is an automatic choice after a season where his influence increased in his new role at centre-forward. His performance against Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final was something special, leaving Kerry supporters wondering if September would have been a whole lot different if 'Gooch' got more support.
Cavanagh enjoyed his best season for a few years and, while he was nominally a midfielder, his busy routine regularly took him into half-forward action. That included the league final, where he started at centre-forward and gave Dublin's Ger Brennan a torrid time.
Selections: Flynn, Cooper, Cavanagh
Full-forwards: Paddy Andrews (Dublin), Bernard Brogan (Dublin), Martin Dunne (Cavan), Paul Mannion (Dublin), Colm McFadden (Donegal), Michel Meehan (Galway), Conor McManus (Monaghan), Cillian O'Connor (Mayo), James O'Donoghue (Kerry)
O'Connor was the championship's top scorer on 6-22. It would have been considerably higher if he hadn't been forced out of the All-Ireland semi-final with a shoulder injury.
One of his two hat-tricks came after being introduced as a sub for the second half of the Connacht semi-final against London, raising question marks over the quality of a Division 4 defence.
However, the second one was scored against Donegal, whose defence would have made misers look generous for most of the last three seasons.
Brogan may not have reached the high standards he set himself a few years ago, but he was still the top scorer in Division 1 and finished joint fifth in the championship hot-shot table. His 2-3 was crucial in Dublin's success last Sunday.
O'Donoghue made a huge impact this year, proving his big-time temperament with a man-of-the-match performance against Cork in the Munster final, while being a strong contender for the honour against Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final when he scored 2-3 (1-3 from play, plus a goal from a brilliantly hit penalty,
Selections: O'Connor, Brogan, O'Donoghue