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Players' chosen trio are overlooked in Allstars team as Kerry lead the way

MAYO'S Ciaran McDonald, Dublin's Bryan Cullen and Kerry's Tom O'Sullivan were the big names to lose out when the 2006 Vodaphone GAA Football Allstars were selected yesterday.

Two weeks ago they were among the top 15 chosen by their intercounty peers in the GPA's own national awards scheme.

But the trio lost out yesterday to Kerry's Paul Galvin, Cork's Ger Spillane and Donegal's Karl Lacey respectively in what remains the most coveted sporting award scheme in the country.

As always the Allstar team, which features a whopping 10 first-time winners, will cause some debate yet the media and players actually showed remarkable consensus, picking 12 of the same players.

Kerry boss Jack O'Connor will be delighted at Galvin's inclusion and the fact that six of his players were chosen. O'Connnor was disgusted at Galvin's omission from the GPA selection in favour of McDonald, arguing that more than one Kerry forward deserved selection.

But McDonald can feel hard done by on missing out the trip to Dubai next January.

He was pivotal in leading Mayo to the All-Ireland final and kicked one of the most memorable scores of the season with his last-gasp winner against Dublin.

He was also, significantly, one of just four nominations for 'Player of the Year' in the players' own scheme and the only one of them who did not subsequently get an Allstar.

Cullen, who played four championship games for Dublin at centre-back despite his earlier siting at half-forward, also had his supporters at centre-back but lost out to Spillane.

Dublin goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton got his second Allstar despite strong support for Cork and international goalkeeper Alan Quirke.

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There was more consensus about Donegal's Karl Lacey getting his first award at left corner-back, which ruled out Kerry's Tom O'Sullivan.

And there is no doubt that Barry Owens' second Allstar at fullback was helped by the fact that he was lucky enough not to have to face Kieran Donaghy, who laid waste to so many number threes last summer.

Heretofore the Allstar selectors nominated 18 backs and 18 forwards and then fought their case to produce a final six in each sector.

But this year they had to make nine nominations for each line of forwards and backs.

Amongst those winning their first Allstars were Armagh's Ronan Clarke and Dublin's Alan Brogan while Darragh Ó Sé and Seamus Moynihan both won their third. Many would argue that Moynihan, who has just retired, should have won more and had strong claims in 1998 and 2002.

The hurling team and individual awards will be announced at tomorrow's televised ceremony.

Allstar Selectors - Steering Committee: Martin Breheny (Irish Independent), Peter Sweeney (The Star), Sean Moran (Irish Times), Jim O'Sullivan (Irish Examiner), Eamonn O'Hara (Irish News), Brian Carthy (RTE Radio), Michael Lyster (RTE TV), Mairtin O'Ciardha (RnaG). Football Selectors: Colm Keys (Irish Independent), Frank Roche (Evening Herald), Keith Duggan (Irish Times), Alan Milton (Irish Sun), Sean McGoldrick (Sunday World), Adrian Logan (UTV).

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