Martin scoops prize with top team
The winner of the Irish Independent PwC challenge to choose the best football team since 1970 with the restriction of having just one player per county is Martin Mullen from Ballinode, Co Monaghan.
Martin also finished first runner-up in the hurling challenge two weeks ago.
The Monaghan matched 14 of the 15 selections chosen by the three-man selection committee, made up of former All-Ireland-winning managers Down's Peter McGrath and John O'Mahony, who steered Galway to success in 1998 and 2001, and Irish Independent GAA editor Martin Breheny.
As with the hurling selectors, their task was unenviable. What Kerry player do you choose from such a galaxy of stars? How do you justify one selection over the other?
In the end, they went for the player considered by many to be the best Gaelic footballer ever. Jack O'Shea claimed four 'footballer of the year' awards during a stellar career and the committee felt obliged to choose him.
Choosing a Dublin player was also quite a task, but for the majority of entrants it came down to two goalkeepers – Stephen Cluxton or John O'Leary.
Cluxton polled higher, but the selection committee felt that O'Leary's record of 70 consecutive appearances and his great shot-stopping ability should hold sway.
Some choices were virtually unanimous.
Former Armagh centre-back and captain Kieran McGeeney, former Tyrone captain and six-time All Star Peter Canavan and Offaly great Matt Connor made virtually every team.
Martin O'Connell (Meath), Sean O'Neill (Down) and Padraic Joyce (Galway) and Larry Tompkins (Cork) were the most popular choices from their respective counties and that tallied with the opinion of the selection committee.
First prize – Martin Mullen, Ballinode, Co Monaghan: €2,500 in cash plus overnight accommodation (including breakfast) for two people at a city centre hotel, courtesy of the O'Callaghan Hotel Group, plus two premium tickets to the All-Ireland Football final, including attendance at the PwC pre-match reception in Croke Park.
First runners-up prize – Michael Cafferkey, Cashel, north Achill: Overnight accommodation (including breakfast) for two people at a city centre hotel, courtesy of the O'Callaghan Hotel Group, plus two premium tickets to the All-Ireland football final, including attendance at the PwC pre-match reception in Croke Park.
Second, third and fourth runners-up – John Tarrant, Millstreet, Cork; Nuala Foley, Belfast; David Flynn, Swords, Dublin: A voucher for €250.
'Irish Independent' PwC team: John O'Leary (Dublin), Harry Keegan (Roscommon), Tony Scullion (Derry), John Keane (Westmeath); Karl Lacey (Donegal), Kieran McGeeney (Armagh), Martin O'Connell (Meath); Jack O'Shea (Kerry), Willie Joe Padden (Mayo); Matt Connor (Offaly), Larry Tompkins (Cork), Mickey Kearins (Sligo); Padraic Joyce (Galway), Sean O'Neill (Down), Peter Canavan (Tyrone). Subs: Fergal Byron (Laois), Eugene 'Nudie' Hughes (Monaghan), Glen Ryan (Kildare), Mickey Quinn (Leitrim), Peter McGinnity (Fermanagh), Declan Browne (Tipperary).