Saturday 18 August 2018

Alan Brogan picks his 2017 football all stars

Dublin's Stephen Cluxton. Photo: Sportsfile
Dublin's Stephen Cluxton. Photo: Sportsfile

1) Stephen Cluxton (Dublin): Five All-Irelands and five All Stars later, Cluxton is still producing the goods. Humble, hard-working, innovative and brave. His calm presence and super kicking game are so important to this Dublin team, not just for this year but for doing what he has done better than any other ‘keeper in the history of the GAA. Never has a player been more deserving of the Footballer of the Year award. *Player of the Year*

2) Mick Fitsimons (Dublin): The quiet man, there is no tighter corner back in the game than Mick Fitzsimons. He has been in and out of the team over the last few years, but this year was very solid for Dublin at number two.

3) Chris Barrett (Mayo): Similar to Fitzsimons, a tight, tough-tackling defender. He has become a mainstay of the Mayo defence in the last few years and delivered a wonderful display of defensive play against Dublin in the final.

4) Keith Higgins (Mayo): Seemed to find a new lease of life this year. His attacking forays from deep launched Mayo back towards Croke Park after the loss to Galway. Showed great leadership in the quarter-final against Roscommon, culminating in a wonderful goal. A star for many years now.

5) Cian O'Sullivan (Dublin): This man has perfected the sweeper role and developed such a great understanding with the players around him that we nearly take the role he plays for granted. So important to the success of this Dublin team over the last six years, a stylish defender with a great footballing brain.

6) Colm Cavanagh (Tyrone): Another who has worked so hard on the sweeper role. In the last few years, Cavanagh has been a real leader for Tyrone, was critical to their Ulster championship win and was one of the few to come away from the Dublin game with a decent personal performance.

7) Colm Boyle (Mayo): Like Keith Higgins, Boyle was one of the great leaders in the Mayo team and his energy and passion are very well respected all over the country. It would be a shame to see Boyle end up without an All-Ireland medal. Struggled to finish some games but the energy he brought nearly dragged Mayo over the line. A great season.

8) James McCarthy (Dublin): Contender for player of the year, McCarthy is reaching his peak now. An elegant, stylish athlete who can mix it with the hardest of them if needed. Man of the match in the final, kicking two superb points, James was consistently excellent throughout 2017 and has developed into one of the first players on Jim Gavin’s teamsheet.

9) Enda Smith (Roscommon): With a couple of man of the match performances, Smith was central to Roscommon winning the Connacht championship. His performance against Galway was heroic in terms of the work he put in around the middle. Still a young man at 22, he is crucial to Roscommon building on this season.

10) Aidan O'Shea (Mayo): Often the fall guy for Mayo, when they needed him most after exiting the Connacht championship he was excellent throughout the qualifiers. Showing his selfless nature in picking up Kieran Donaghy in the semi-final, after a difficult first day he improved in the replay. Made a telling contribution in the final against Dublin. A difficult year but he can be proud of how he reacted, with his football doing the talking.

11) Paul Mannion (Dublin): After a year off spent in Asia, Paul Mannion has returned a different animal. With talent to burn, Paul bulked up considerably during his year away and has turned himself into a powerful forward. Eight points from play against Westmeath was one of the performances of the championship and his second half display against Mayo turned the tide in Dublin’s favour.

12) Con O'Callaghan (Dublin): What can we say, what a debut season for O’Callaghan. It wasn’t a secret that he was coming, but few expected him to have such an influence. His goal in the final was exquisite. In Dublin we will enjoy Con for years to come. Unbackable for young player of the year.

13) Dean Rock (Dublin): Has become Dublin’s most consistent forward after working incredibly hard on his game and free taking over the last number of years. Four points from play and a free that won his side the All-Ireland speaks for itself. One of the top finishers in the game.

14) Paul Geaney (Kerry): Has surpassed James O’Donoghue as Kerry’s talisman over the last couple of seasons. Always plays very close to goal and physically very strong, he kept the scoreboard ticking over for Kerry right throughout the year. Along with David Moran, probably Kerry’s most important player now. Another great season.

15) Andy Moran (Mayo): Proved a lot of doubters wrong with a magnificent season. Showing age doesn’t matter, the 34-year-old kicked 1-5 against Kerry in another of the performances of the season. Contributed handsomely in the final with three points before injury forced him off. Very close to Footballer of the Year and a joy to watch all season.

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