Friday 18 January 2019

Cluxton v Beggan likely to be the biggest battle as Dubs dominate All Stars


Stiff competition: Stephen Cluxton. Photo: Sportsfile
Stiff competition: Stephen Cluxton. Photo: Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

A Dublin player is guaranteed to win the PwC 'footballer of the year' as three of their All-Ireland winning team have made the shortlist.

The award has gone to All-Ireland finalists Mayo over the last two years, Lee Keegan in 2016 and Andy Moran last year, but Ciarán Kilkenny, Brian Fenton and Jack McCaffrey will have it between them in 2018.

Kilkenny scored 4-42 from play in league and championship despite chiefly being deployed as a playmaker while Fenton has been just as consistent and dynamic at midfield. McCaffrey came with a late run but was 'man of the match' against Galway and Tyrone in the All-Ireland semi-final and final.

Brian Howard has been squeezed out but is a front-runner, with Kerry's David Clifford and Tyrone's Michael McKernan for PwC 'young footballer of the year.'

It is undoubtedly the most competitive 'young footballer of the year' contest since the award was conceived with Howard and Clifford both having claims for the main award.

Inter-county players will vote on the two shortlists and the winner will be announced at the banquet on Friday, November 2.

Dublin dominate the football awards with 12 players while there is a spread of 11 counties represented, one more than last year.

All six of Dublin's starting forwards in the All-Ireland final are included but in contrast there's just one from Tyrone Niall Sludden with Conor McAliskey missing out and Peter Harte being nominated in defence.

All-Ireland finalists and semi-finalists, Tyrone, Monaghan and Galway all have seven nominations each while two quarter-finalists, Kildare and Donegal have three each.

Kildare captain Eoin Doyle is joined by Daniel Flynn and Paul Cribbin who produced big performances against Mayo, Galway and Kerry.

Kerry have just two, Clifford and Gavin White, while Roscommon, who struggled in the inaugural 'super 8s' have been overlooked with attacker Diarmuid Murtagh their most likely candidate.

There is recognition for Carlow in a year when they were promoted to Division 4 and beat Kildare in a Leinster quarter-final with corner-forward Paul Broderick's inclusion. He scored 0-11 against Kildare and was also prominent in the qualifier defeat to Tyrone.

Armagh's Rory Grugan, a strong influence in the qualifiers, and Laois goalkeeper Graham Brody, who was magnificent in the Leinster final against Dublin and their fourth round qualifier against Monaghan when he made six fine saves, join Fermanagh defender Che Cullen, who kept Conor McManus scoreless from play in their shock Ulster semi-final win, on the nominations list.

In all 41 of the 45 nominations come from counties who made the All-Ireland quarter-finals, the same figure as last year.

Inevitably there will be focus on that goalkeeping position where Stephen Cluxton is again nominated after another fine season in which he saved a penalty from Galway's Eamonn Brannigan in the All-Ireland semi-final as he seeks a sixth All Star.

He faces strong opposition from Brody and Rory Beggan who was Monaghan's second highest scorer with 18 placed balls converted from long range on top of some top class kick-out work.

The selection committee will have the flexibility this year to pick players outside their nominated positions when the team is finalised.

Goalkeepers: Graham Brody (Laois), Stephen Cluxton (Dublin), Rory Beggan (Monaghan)

Defenders: Ryan Wylie (Monaghan), Drew Wylie (Monaghan), Karl O'Connell (Monaghan), Jonny Cooper (Dublin), Eoin Murchan (Dublin), Jack McCaffrey (Dublin), James McCarthy (Dublin), Sean Andy Ó Ceallaigh (Galway), Seán Kelly (Galway), Eoin Kerin (Galway), Eoin Doyle (Kildare), Peter Harte (Tyrone), Tiernan McCann (Tyrone), Pádraig Hampsey (Tyrone), Michael McKernan (Tyrone), Gavin White (Kerry), Che Cullen (Fermanagh), Eoghan Bán Gallagher (Donegal).

Midfielders: Brian Fenton (Dublin), Colm Cavanagh (Tyrone), Mattie Donnelly (Tyrone), Michael Murphy (Donegal), Niall Kearns (Monaghan), Thomas Flynn (Galway).

Forwards: Ryan McHugh (Donegal), Paul Mannion (Dublin), Brian Howard (Dublin), Ciarán Kilkenny (Dublin), Con O'Callaghan (Dublin), Dean Rock (Dublin), Niall Scully (Dublin), Niall Sludden (Tyrone), Paul Broderick (Carlow), Rory Grugan (Armagh), Conor McManus (Monaghan), Ryan McAnespie (Monaghan), Ian Burke (Galway), Shane Walsh (Galway), Damien Comer (Galway), David Clifford (Kerry), Paul Cribbin (Kildare), Daniel Flynn (Kildare).

Irish Independent

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