Wednesday 13 November 2019

A lucky defender, an unlucky forward and an obvious cop-out - Pat Spillane gives his verdict on 2019 All Stars

2019 PwC All-Star football team of the year. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
2019 PwC All-Star football team of the year. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Pat Spillane

LISTEN, lambasting the All-Star selectors is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel.

Everybody thinks they know better than the gentlemen who pick the official team.

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The bottom line is that picking any team is a subjective exercise. In a real match, the scoreline is the final arbiter. There are no ‘ifs, buts or maybes’. But with the All Stars there are no right or wrong answers. Instead there are opinions.

I’m not particularly outraged in any way by the 2019 team, though I do feel Dublin’s historic five-in-row achievement was not fully acknowledged.

Granted Stephen Cluxton was rightly chosen – by his peers – as the Footballer of the Year. But despite going the distance and winning the five in-a-row, Dublin received seven All-Stars, the same number as the one in-a-row Tipperary hurling team.

Essentially 12 of the team were automatic selections. I’ll not quibble with Brian Howard’s selection – but it is a cop out to pick him at centre-back where he has never really played for Dublin.

My perception of the All-Stars is that it is a team – not the 15 best footballers in the country. If the latter was the case then two goalkeepers could be picked.

Without fail, annually, there are what I describe as the lucky All-Star and the unlucky one who missed out.

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This year the lucky All-Star has to be Tyrone full-back Ronan McNamee, who arguably benefited from not playing in the All-Ireland final. In contrast, Kerry’s Stephen O’Brien missed out as a result of slightly under-performing in the two finals.

He was Kerry’s second most consistent forward, behind Sean O’Shea, throughout the league and championship and looked a shoo-in for an award after the All-Ireland semi-finals.

Going back to the full-back issue, I had Dublin’s James McCarthy selected at No 3.

At least he’s a defender and his selection would have brought the Dublin total to eight which would be about right. Either that or give the extra one to David Byrne.

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