Thursday 26 April 2018

Dublin legend Alan Brogan chooses his midsummer All Stars and Player of the Year so far

Read Alan Brogan's exclusive column every Thursday in The Herald

Alan Brogan has named his midsummer All Stars
Alan Brogan has named his midsummer All Stars

Alan Brogan

I KNOW. I know. In the crowded bus of GAA things people get annoyed about, the All Stars is sitting up the front, talking loudly to the driver.

The most consistent source of outrage, so far as I can make out, is just how heavily weighted the whole thing seems to be towards the section of the Championship that takes place from this point in summer onwards.

As though the act of winning a provincial title, or even beating a gutsy route back to relevance in the qualifiers, is mostly irrelevant and certainly, superseded by all that takes place in Croke Park thereafter.

It’s an argument that has its merits, so I’ve decided to pick my mid-summer All Stars.

Some of these players will fade from contention, others will emerge but if nothing else, it highlights how unfair the provincial system is.

I’ve selected one Kerry player in the team but five from Tyrone.

Both won their provinces but Tyrone had to play four games against Derry, Cavan (twice) and an epic final against Donegal.

Kerry had to beat Clare and Tipperary and you sense that the guys who will do the business for them from here on in are playing with the handbrake on.

Still, for what it’s worth, here’s my mid-summer All Stars.

1. Stephen Cluxton (Dublin)

Twelve Leinster titles now and back setting standards for every one else. At the weekend, in the build-up to Bernard’s goal against Westmeath, Cluxton kicked a 50-yard ball to Ciarán Kilkenny that took out seven or eight Westmeath players where every other goalkeeper would have chosen a safe hand pass. That’s the difference.

Stephen Cluxton of Dublin during the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final match between Dublin and Meath at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

2. Paddy McGrath (Donegal)

May have been perceived as being a weakness in that Donegal defence in the past but now, arguably a more important component than either of the McGee brothers. Kept Conor McManus to three points from play over two matches.

TYR DON 1187573.jpg
Donegal's Paddy McGrath dives towards a shot from Connor McAliskey. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

3. Declan Kyne (Galway)

Not, admittedly, a player I knew a lot about before this year but has been consistent at full-back for Galway. They protect him well but not the sort of number three you’d fancy getting much change out of with long, high balls.

GALW ROSC 1187630.jpg
Galway's Declan Kyne is put under pressure by Senán Kilbride. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

4. Cathal McCarron (Tyrone)

A vital component again in a highly-functional Tyrone team after his recent personal struggles. May even be the best man-marker in the game at the moment. Strong, quick but equally, comfortable on the ball.

2 TYR DON 1187916.jpg
Tyrone's Cathal McCarron reacts after a missed chance on goal. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

5. Tiernan McCann (Tyrone)

Just a classy, classy footballer. Mobility and control are his weapons and he’s such an important link now in almost all of Tyrone’s moves. Handles the ball with supreme confidence.

53 SPORT MCCANN 1187915.jpg
Tiernan McCann celebrates following Tyrone's victory in the Ulster SFC Final last Sunday. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

6. Peter Harte (Tyrone)

My front-runner for Footballer of the Year. Doesn’t just break hard and fast, but always finishes out his run after laying it off, looking to get on the end of the something and that’s why he’s such a goal threat. Scythed through Cavan in the replay and his point at the weekend was a one-in-ten shot.

TYR DON 1187843.jpg
Peter Harte celebrates the late long-range point which put Tyrone in front in their Ulster final victory over Donegal. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

7. Ryan McHugh (Donegal)

Very much the heartbeat of this Donegal team now. The smoothest ball-carrier around - even ahead of Tiernan McCann and Peter Harte and . Whatever about the scores he kicked at the weekend, has that ability to move the ball sharply out of congestion into space with one 50-metre burst.

Ryan McHugh of Donegal in action against Tiernan McCann of Tyrone

8. Matthew Donnelly (Tyrone)

Would have been my Footballer-of-the-Half-Year only for he was off the pitch in that brilliant late passage of the game last Sunday. Very much the modern, mobile middle man. Typical of the new Tyrone, hardly ever gives the ball away.

David Givney in action against Mattie Donnelly Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

9. Gary Brennan (Clare)

One of the most respected footballers in Munster and nice now to see him getting recognition now on the national stage. A big guy, well able to score. Their inspiration last Sunday and, not to forget, their Division 3 League final win in Croke Park.

Clare’s Gary Brennan in action against Sligo’s Niall Murphy during their qualifier victory. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

10. Ciarán Kilkenny (Dublin)

From being mostly a prolific inside forward at underage levels, he’s matured into a player who can really control the tempo of a match from outside the ‘45’. One of the smartest footballers in the game at the moment.

1178753 (Read-Only).png
Ciaran Kilkenny continues the hand-passing sequence, under pressure from Meath’s Cillian O’Sullivan, as Dublin wind down the clock with a keep-ball exercise on Sunday. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

11. Diarmuid Connolly (Dublin)

Man of the match against Laois and Meath and even at the weekend, after his booking, finished well when he dropped back into midfield. Might sometimes try the outrageous a little too much but has the rare ability to pull it off.

Dublin star Diarmuid Connolly. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

12. Diarmuid O’Connor (Mayo)

A brilliant player. No surprise he didn’t start the day Mayo flopped against Galway. Performance against Kildare may be the best of anyone this summer so far. Rangy, pacey with great control, so can beat defenders at will. Clinical score-taker, too.

KILD MAYO 1187292_2.jpg
Diarmuid O'Connor scores Mayo's second goal despite the efforts of Emmet Bolton. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

13. Paul Geaney (Kerry)

Has that patience to stay close to goal so when he does get possession, he’s within striking distance. Very accurate. Very strong. Has 2-7 from play in two games so far. An out-and-out striker.

Paul Geaney of Kerry celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Final match between Kerry and Tipperary at Fitzgerald StadiumPhoto by Brendan Moran / Sportsfile

14. Seán Cavanagh (Tyrone)

Gets in even just for the last half hour in the Ulster final. That score he kicked may well be one of the best I’ve ever seen. To bounce off three Donegal players and get that shot away in such a tense part of such a huge match was the hallmark of what he is - one of the all-time greats.

TYR DON 1187592.jpg
Sean Cavanagh attempts to break through the massed ranks of the Donegal defence. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

15. Damien Comer (Galway)

Hasn’t been as prolific as his team-mate Danny

Cummins but his ball-winning ability is class. Roscommon had four different markers on him last Sunday in the Connacht SFC final replay, all of whom struggled. Loves the physical requirements of the game and the Annaghdown smart in how he brings others into it.

GALW ROSC 1187639.jpg
Galway's Damien Comer knocks in a disallowed goal. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Raymond Galligan (Cavan), Ronan McNamee (Tyrone), James Dolan (Westmeath), James McCarthy

(Dublin), Cian O’Sullivan (Dublin), Colm

Cavanagh (Tyrone), Paul Conroy (Galway), Brian Fenton (Dublin), Mark Lynch (Derry), Odhrán MacNiallais (Donegal), Brian Fox (Tipperary), Gary Sice (Galway), Conor McManus (Monaghan), Bernard Brogan (Dublin), Danny Cummins (Galway).

Herald Sport

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport