Sunday 21 January 2018

Dublin and Kerry dominate Colm Keys' best XV from Division One of the football league

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Irish Independent GAA correspondent Colm Keys has selected his top XV from Division One of this year's Allianz football league.

League finalists Kerry and Dublin both contribute four men to the team with three from Donegal, two from Monaghan and one each from Mayo and Tyrone.

Here is the team:

1. David Clarke (Mayo)

Stephen Cluxton has had his best shot-stopping campaign in some time but even that just isn’t enough to displace Clarke, who produced so many big moments against Monaghan, Kerry, Roscommon and Dublin, while his late interventions were crucial in preserving the lead against Tyrone.

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David Clarke of Mayo and Tyrone’s Sean Cavanagh (left) clash in Omagh. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

2. Mick Fitzsimons (Dublin)

Really developing the art of defending from the front; has thrived on the back of his All-Ireland final replay recall, reaching peaks against Mayo and Kerry, to eclipse Donegal’s Paddy McGrath.

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Dublin and Kerry had a few heated exchanges off the ball when they met in league action back in mid-March. Photo: Sportsfile

3. Drew Wylie (Monaghan)

Suffered a little in the run-in against Dublin but Wylie has been an imposing gatekeeper sort for Monaghan, using his raw physical power to dominate on difficult away days in Mayo and Kerry.

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Monaghan's Drew Wylie in action against Dublin's Bernard Brogan. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

4. Philly McMahon (Dublin)

Had his troubles tracking Jack Savage on Sunday but has been so consistent with his reading of the game. Scored five points but his passing stood out. No current defender has his range or accuracy.

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Philly McMahon of Dublin has his jersey pulled by Jack Savage of Kerry during the Allianz Football League Division 1 Final between Dublin and Kerry at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

5. Ryan McHugh (Donegal)

Strange that McHugh should suffer an ankle injury given that is feet have barely touched the ground this season. Scored a fourth career goal against Dublin, torched Tyrone and was flying when he pulled up against Monaghan. On form, few better footballers around.

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Dublin have held supremacy over the game over the last four years but McHugh has been the fly in the ointment when the sides have met. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile

6. Tadhg Morley (Kerry)

Perhaps no player underpins the changing face of Kerry football more than the industrious Morley, especially in his head-to-heads with Dublin playmaker Ciaran Kilkenny.

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Kerry's Tadhg Morley breaks away from Dean Rock during the Allianz Football League Division 1 Final between Dublin and Kerry at Croke Park. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

7. Paul Murphy (Kerry)

That late giveaway in Tralee was so out of sync with a radar that rarely sets it missiles off course. Whether in defence or in the more advanced role he has become accustomed to playing, Murphy has become a Kingdom fulcrum.

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Paul Murphy, Kerry, in action against Karl O'Connell, Monaghan in Clones during last year's clash between the sides. Photo by Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile

8. David Moran (Kerry)

When he’s been on his game, like he was against Donegal, Roscommon, Dublin (twice) and Tyrone, he’s been a colossus, the best player in the League, continuing a fine resurgence that began late in last year’s Championship.

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'David Moran’s late point summed up everything great about this display.' Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

9. Michael Murphy (Donegal)

Wore No 14 but anchored himself in a new-look Donegal team at midfield, playing some of his best football yet to edge out Dublin’s Brian Fenton and Cavan’s Gearoid McKiernan.

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Donegal's Michael Murphy in action against Mayo's Aidan O'Shea. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

10. Ciaran Thompson (Donegal)

The quantity of his 19 points (16 from play) is one thing but the quality is even more pronounced. Against Kerry, Cavan and Tyrone, he really stepped up.

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Donegal's Ciaran Thompson in action against Mayo's Tom Parsons. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

11. Ciaran Kilkenny (Dublin)

Even on the days when he’s curtailed by Tadgh Morley, Kilkenny still finds ways to be effective. No doubt now, Dublin’s most important cog.

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Stephen Coen, left, and Donal Vaughan of Mayo hound Dublin’s Ciaran Kilkenny during their heavy Division 1 defeat by the All-Ireland champions at Croke Park. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

12. Peter Harte (Tyrone)

It was a campaign that petered out badly for Tyrone but Harte was able to lift himself above the fog in those demoralising defeats in Ballybofey and Tralee.

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Anthony Maher of Kerry in action against Peter Harte of Tyrone

13. Dean Rock (Dublin)

The width of the post denied him another last gasp equaliser from distance but Rock’s free-taking had rescued Dublin on difficult days in Tralee, Ballybofey and Croke Park against Tyrone as he amassed 0-48.

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Dublin's Dean Rock kicks a free against Kerry in Tralee. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

14. Paul Geaney (Kerry)

The most prolific forward in the game at present, he has shouldered big responsibility lightly this spring, amassing 3-41.

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28 August 2016; Paul Geaney of Kerry during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final game between Dublin and Kerry at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

15. Jack McCarron (Monaghan)

Season after season blighted by serious injury was put behind him as McCarron lit up the League, scoring 3-29, 3-12 from play, to take pressure off Conor McManus. He scored goals against

Kerry and Dublin, helping himself to 1-5 from play (1-9 in all) against the latter.

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Monaghan's Jack McCarron in action against Neil McGee of Donegal. Photo: Philip Fitzpatrick/Sportsfile

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