Saturday 21 July 2018

Cluxton snub as Moran gets reward

Dubs miss out on top football award for second successive year

Footballer of the Year, Mayo's Andy Moran. Photo: Sportsfile
Footballer of the Year, Mayo's Andy Moran. Photo: Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

All-Ireland champions Dublin have missed out on the Footballer of the Year award for the second successive year as Mayo's Andy Moran was rewarded by his peers for his clinical finishing in the 2017 championship.

The 34-year-old polled higher than Dublin midfielder James McCarthy and goalkeepers Stephen Cluxton and David Clarke when the four names were put to the inter-county players He follows Lee Keegan who was the 2016 winner.

In hurling, Joe Canning beat off competition from Waterford pair Jamie Barron and Kevin Moran to take Hurler of the Year, while Galway colleague Conor Whelan was crowned Young Hurler of the Year.

Clarke and Cluxton had their own private battle for the PwC All-Star football goalkeeping position but, for the second year in a row, Clarke came out on top after a string of brilliant saves.

Dublin dominated the team which is drawn exclusively from the four semi-finalists but six Mayo players, including Clarke, were selected.

Moran scored 3-24 from play in Mayo's 10 games and really sparked for the last four games, taking Kerry for 2-6 over 140 minutes and then scoring three points against Dublin before setting up Jason Doherty and Lee Keegan for clear-cut goal chances. Keegan obliged.

Moran picked up his second All-Star prize having won his previous award in 2011.

Two of his colleagues are in receipt of their fourth awards. Keith Higgins was on the 2012, 2013 and 2014 teams and was a certainty after scintillating displays, once he had served his suspension in the qualifier against Derry for a costly red card against Galway in the Connacht Championship.

Colm Boyle made it a quartet too, having made the 2013, 2014 and 2016 teams. Aidan O'Shea was named at centre-forward having been selected after 2013 and 2015 selections, the impact of his return from injury in the qualifiers, his versatility against Kerry and a big final performance against Dublin counting.

Like O'Shea Dublin's Cian O'Sullivan is winning a third award having been on the 2013 and 2015 teams too while Jack McCaffrey is included for the second time despite limping out early from the All-Ireland final with a cruciate ligament injury.

One-third of the team are winning All-Stars for the first time - Mayo's Chris Barrett, Dublin trio Mick Fitzsimons, Con O'Callaghan and Paul Mannion and Tyrone's Colm Cavanagh.

O'Callaghan also picked up the Young Footballer of the Year award following his brilliant goals against Tyrone and Mayo and his 12-point haul in the Leinster final against Kildare.

With 13 it is the highest concentration of All-Ireland finalists on an All-Star football team and with six from Mayo it is the highest number of losing All-Ireland finalists since Meath, who also played 10 games that year, in 1991.

And yet Mayo may feel they could have added to their haul with Tom Parsons squeezed out of midfield and Kevin McLoughlin, so consistent throughout Mayo's 10 games, missing out at right half-forward where Dean Rock has been included for his second successive award.

In attack, Paul Geaney is Kerry's sole representative after scoring 4-71 between league and championship.

Irish Independent

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