Thursday 19 April 2018

Cooper has Spillane's All Star haul in his sights

Gooch just one short of Kerry legend's record of nine as Dublin dominate with six awards

The 2013 GAA GPA Football All-Stars
The 2013 GAA GPA Football All-Stars
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

COLM COOPER has reached yet another landmark in his remarkable career by winning an eighth All Star award, taking him into second place behind fellow Kerryman Pat Spillane on the all-time roll of honour.

'The Gooch' celebrated his 30th birthday this year, so he is in a strong position to challenge for further awards over the next few years. There is every chance he will overtake Spillane, who won nine awards between 1976 and 1986.

Cooper moves one ahead of Mikey Sheehy, who won seven awards during Kerry's glory days in the 1970s and '80s. The Dr Crokes man, who won his previous seven awards at corner-forward, takes the centre-forward berth this year after another season where he maintained very high standards.

Unsurprisingly, Dublin have the top representation, winning six awards – one in each line from goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton to full-forward Bernard Brogan.

That's two short of Donegal's haul last year despite Jim Gavin's men winning both the All-Ireland and Allianz League (Division 1).

Rory O'Carroll (full-back), Cian O'Sullivan (centre-back), Michael Darragh Macauley (midfield) – who won the Footballer of the Year award – and Paul Flynn (right half-forward) are the other Dublin players on a team which also features four from Mayo, two from Monaghan and one each from Kerry and Tyrone.

Cluxton takes the goalkeeping slot for the fifth time, the same as former Dublin captain John O'Leary, who was honoured in 1984, '85, '93, '94 and '95.

The current Dublin skipper, who won his previous awards in 2002, '06, '07 and '11, is 32, but since goalkeepers tend to have longer careers than outfield players, he is well positioned to add to his All Star haul and become the most honoured No 1 in the 42-year history of the scheme.

Cluxton beat Rory Beggan (Monaghan) and Robert Hennelly (Mayo) for the slot this year.

Sean Cavanagh also wins his fifth award, having been previously successful in 2003, '04, '05 and '08. His first three awards were won at midfield and his latter two at left half-forward.


His latest award leaves him one behind Peter Canavan as Tyrone's leading All Star. He played mostly at midfield this year but had some successful outings in the half-forward line, where he joins Cooper and Flynn.

Mayo have four All Stars – three defenders in Keith Higgins, Lee Keegan and Colm Boyle, plus midfielder Aidan O'Shea.

Full-back Ger Cafferkey, the 2012 All Star full-back, will be considered unlucky by many to have lost out but was up against O'Carroll, who had an excellent season at the heart of the Dublin defence.

There's no place for Mayo's Cillian O'Connor, the top scorer in this year's championship on 6-22. He scored hat-tricks in successive outings against London in the Connacht final and Donegal in the All-Ireland quarter-final but loses out to Brogan, Conor McManus (Monaghan) and James O'Donoghue (Kerry) in the full-forward line.

It leaves Mayo without any representation in the forwards, which will come as a surprise after the high-scoring exploits which yielded a total of 15-95 in six championship games.

However, 2-14 came from the half-backs, two of whom are selected. The third, Donal Vaughan, loses out to Cian O'Sullivan at centre-back.

McManus and O'Donoghue win their first awards, as do O'Shea, Boyle, O'Carroll and Colin Walshe.

It's the first time since 1988 that Monaghan have two players on the team. The selection honours all four provincial winners, with Tyrone the only other county to be represented.

Dublin's six awards cements their place at No 2 behind Kerry on the all-time honours list. They have 94 awards, while Kerry move on to 128.

Mayo's four awards increases their total to 33, moving them ahead of Offaly (30) and into seventh place behind Kerry, Dublin, Cork, Meath, Tyrone and Galway.

Irish Independent

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