Wednesday 22 November 2017

Here is why four are shortlisted for Footballer of the Year while Dublin and Mayo dominate All Star nominations

Stephen Cluxton and David Clarke have both been nominated for Player of the Year
Stephen Cluxton and David Clarke have both been nominated for Player of the Year
Dublin's Stephen Cluxton. Photo: Sportsfile

Jackie Cahill

For the very first time, four players have been nominated for the prestigious Footballer of the Year award - a move that is sure to raise eyebrows.

The shortlist is normally made up of three contenders but two goalkeepers have been included - Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton and Mayo's David Clarke.

A press release explains that "the decision to settle on a final four was made so as not to prejudice what the final team selection may be".

Favourite for the gong, Dublin's All-Ireland final man of the match James McCarthy and Mayo's man for all seasons, Andy Moran, are also nominated.

Had just Cluxton or Clarke been included, the goalkeeping position on the PwC All-Star team would have been viewed as a fait accompli. Selectors were anxious to ensure that this would not be the case, hence the shortlisting of Cluxton and Clarke, who both enjoyed fine seasons.

Dublin, who captured a third successive All-Ireland title last Sunday, dominate the list of All-Star nominations.

Jim Gavin's men are represented by 13 players - with forwards Eoghan O'Gara and Paddy Andrews the only two men who started the All-Ireland final victory over Mayo not included on the 45-man list. Mayo have received just one fewer nomination than Dublin but Donal Vaughan, who was red-carded against Dublin, is excluded.

Tyrone's Mattie Donnelly, who won All-Stars in 2015 and 2016, is another high-profile omission, along with Kerry midfielder David Moran. Otherwise, the list of nominees is very much along expected lines, and divided into three goalkeepers, 18 defenders, six midfielders and 18 forwards, in keeping with tradition.

Dublin and Mayo have 25 nominations between them, with Tyrone earning six, Kerry five, Roscommon, Kildare and Down two each, and one apiece for Monaghan, Donegal and Armagh.

Stellar The final selection - and the Footballer of the Year winner - will be announced live on November 3, at a gala black-tie banquet at Dublin's Convention Centre.

Cluxton will be considered favourite for the goalkeeping position, having produced another stellar campaign. Clarke made a stunning save from Paul Mannion in the final - but two late kick-outs went astray and Dublin got over the line with just a point to spare.

Meanwhile, three players are shortlisted for the Young Footballer of the Year award - Dublin's Con O'Callaghan, Cork player Sean Powter, and Galway's Michael Daly.

The GAA and GPA have announced PwC as the new sponsors in a partnership that will run until 2020, and see the rebranding of the awards under the title of PwC All-Stars.

PwC All-Star Football Nominations

Goalkeepers: S Cluxton (Dublin), D Clarke (Mayo), N Morgan (Tyrone)

Defenders: J McCaffrey, C O'Sullivan, M Fitzsimons, P McMahon, J Small, J Cooper (Dublin), K Higgins, L Keegan, C Barrett, C Boyle, B Harrison (Mayo), P Hampsey, T McCann (Tyrone), P Murphy, T Morley (Kerry), C Devanney (Roscommon), C Mooney (Down), F Kelly (Monaghan).

Midfielders: J McCarthy, B Fenton (Dublin), T Parsons (Mayo), C Cavanagh (Tyrone), E Smith (Roscommon), K Feely (Kildare).

Forwards: A Moran, K McLoughlin, A O'Shea, J Doherty, C O'Connor (Mayo), C Kilkenny, C O'Callaghan, P Mannion, D Rock (Dublin), P Geaney, K Donaghy, J O'Donoghue (Kerry), P Harte, N Sludden (Tyrone), C Harrison (Down), P McBrearty (Donegal), J Clarke (Armagh), D Flynn (Kildare).

Footballer of the Year Nominees: S Cluxton (Dublin), J McCarthy (Dublin), A Moran (Mayo), D Clarke (Mayo)

Young Footballer of the Year Nominees: C O'Callaghan (Dublin). S Powter (Cork), M Daly (Galway)

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