Wednesday 7 December 2016

Fenton leads list of All-Star nominees

Michael Verney

Published 06/10/2016 | 02:30

David Mulqueen (right) of Philips Ireland presents the Philips manager of the month for August to Ireland’s Olympic sailing coach Rory Fitzpatrick, who was joint winner along with Ireland’s Olympic rowing manager Morten Espersen.
David Mulqueen (right) of Philips Ireland presents the Philips manager of the month for August to Ireland’s Olympic sailing coach Rory Fitzpatrick, who was joint winner along with Ireland’s Olympic rowing manager Morten Espersen.

Bernard Brogan is the most high-profile absentee as he misses out a GAA GPA Opel football All-Star nomination for just the third time in ten years as back-to-back champions Dublin and beaten finalists Mayo top the 45-strong list with 11 players each.

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The 2010 Footballer of the Year has shown remarkable consistency in the past decade winning four All-Stars and only missing out on the shortlist two years ago and back in 2008, but after a patchy season, which saw his impressive scoring averages well down on previous years as he hit 1-10 from play in seven games, Brogan doesn't make the cut after losing his place for last Saturday's All-Ireland final replay,

The 32-year-old attacker's starting berth with Jim Gavin's three-in-a-row-chasing Dubs will now come under serious threat with young guns like final 'super sub' Cormac Costello, Con O'Callaghan and Colm Basquel all snapping at his heels.

Eleven of Brogan's Dublin team-mates are nominated, however, with six or seven expected to make the final 15 which is likely to be led by three-time All-Ireland-winning skipper Stephen Cluxton.

The Dublin 'keeper is in pole position to claim his sixth award ahead of Mayo's David Clarke, who was odds-on favourite to claim the award after the drawn All-Ireland final only to be surprisingly replaced by Rob Hennelly for the second game.

He is highly unlikely to be selected as a result and while it's little consolation for Mayo, who failed to bridge a 65-year gap to Sam Maguire success, they have achieved a unique feat of having six defenders listed among the nominees including 'sweeper' Kevin McLoughlin.

Rewarded

Elsewhere, Clare midfielder Gary Brennan is rewarded for his outstanding individual displays, powering the Banner to their first All-Ireland quarter-final, after inclusion in the competitive six-man shortlist for a midfield award.

Brennan is Clare's first footballer to be nominated for an All-Star since 1997 when defender Frankie Griffin and forward Martin Daly were nominated but Tipperary's Bill Maher is a harsh omission. The Premier flyer impressed at wing-back in their stunning run to the last four and was at least deserving of a nomination.

In all, there are eight counties represented with the following breakdown: Dublin (11); Mayo (11); Tyrone (6); Tipperary (5); Kerry (4); Galway (4); Donegal (3); Clare (1), while the Player of the Year award will be contested between Mayo's Lee Keegan and the Dublin duo of Brian Fenton and Ciarán Kilkenny.

Fenton (23) is the front-runner for the top gong as the Raheny midfielder looks to cap a remarkable 18 months. After bursting onto the scene last year and picking up the 2015 All-Ireland final man of the match award in his debut season, he looks set to go one better and be crowned Footballer of the Year with Keegan's black card in the replay spoiling his claims.

Mayo's Diarmuid O'Connor and the Tipp pair of Josh Keane and Jimmy Feehan battle it out for the Young Footballer of the Year award but after spearheading U-21 success earlier in the year, O'Connor is the heavy favourite to join his older brother Cillian as a two-time winner.

The All-Star team will be selected next month by a panel of national Gaelic Games Correspondents with the Players of the Year awards voted on by the players themselves before presentations take place at a special banquet in Dublin's Convention Centre on Friday, November 4.

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