Saturday 18 November 2017

All-Stars scheme is far from perfect - but it gets us talking

David Clarke was chosen as goalkeeper for the All-Stars. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
David Clarke was chosen as goalkeeper for the All-Stars. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

When news of the All-Star football team filtered into the Independent House on Talbot Street in Dublin, a debate started almost immediately.

Unsurprisingly, it centred on the selection of David Clarke as goalkeeper.

One colleague argued that someone who starts and ends the season as second-choice goalkeeper can't possibly be considered for an All Star award, claiming that Stephen Cluxton should have got the nod.

The Dublin captain's kickout stats were strong and he was a constant figure in a side that went unbeaten all season.

A frazzled ten minutes or so against Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final aside, the colleague argued that Cluxton had produced the most consistent body of work across the breadth of the season.

Debate

The other side of the debate pointed at the significant saves Clarke made in Mayo's run in the back door, particularly in the one-point All-Ireland quarter-final victory over Tyrone and the stops to deny Dublin's Brian Fenton in the drawn final.

Another colleague pointed out that the decision to drop Clarke for the replay was proved to be a bad one. Not handing him the award would only vindicate that decision.

Others thought the best option was the third nomination for the goalkeeper award. Tipperary's Evan Comerford is an excellent shot-stopper with a good range of kickouts.

Comerford made significant contributions to Tipperary's run, from their first day out against Waterford when he produced a pair of important stops.

Later in the year he was superb as the Premier men saw off Derry in Kingspan Breffni Park.

And it could be argued that having two representatives would be more reflective of a season that saw Tipp make history.

It meant that in one room, three contrasting opinions existed. And that was only over a single position.

Other debates will range today as this year's team is analysed.

Was Cian O'Sullivan unlucky to miss out to Colm Boyle?

Kevin McManamon, who was in the Footballer of the Year conversation before the drawn final, might also have a case.

Peter Acheson is another who had a real claim. And arguments can be made for several more.

There's no right answer, just a variety of opinions. There will never be uniformity when it comes to an All-Star selection and why should there be?

That's the thing about the All-Stars. It's an imperfect scheme that merges the subjective views of a panel pulled from various strands of the media.

It's a mix that is inevitably going to throw up a controversial decisions.

No-one would be interested in them if they didn't.

Irish Independent

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