Dublin and Kerry dominate Colm Keys' best XV from Division One of the football league
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
14. Paul Geaney (Kerry)
The most prolific forward in the game at present, he has shouldered big responsibility lightly this spring, amassing 3-41.
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.