Monday 22 January 2018

If the football All Stars were being selected now. . .

Dublin centre-forward Ciaran Kilkenny is on the Team of the Championship to date
Dublin centre-forward Ciaran Kilkenny is on the Team of the Championship to date
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Dublin, Donegal and Monaghan dominate our mid-season team, writes Colm Keys

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Goalkeeper

Paul Durcan (Donegal)

Durcan hasn't dwelled much on last year's All-Ireland final and holds off Ken O'Halloran and Stephen Cluxton because of the quality of the saves he has had to make in every one of his side's big Ulster Championship matches - Tyrone's Peter Harte, Armagh's Ciaron O'Hanlon, Derry's Enda Lynn and Monaghan's Dermot Malone all denied by his alertness.

Right corner-back

Johnny Cooper (Dublin)

Dublin have not been severely tested but when they have, Cooper has answered the questions asked of him and has followed on from a very good League with a very solid Leinster Championship.

Full-back

Ryan Wylie (Monaghan)

For Monaghan's sixth point against Donegal on Sunday, Wylie applied the pressure on Christy Toye deep in Donegal territory that made the opening for Conor McManus. He is terrier-like when pressing opponents but also consistently good in possession.

Left corner-back

Shane Enright (Kerry)

Held Brian Hurley scoreless in two Munster finals with his suffocating presence and brought alertness and composure to Kerry's defensive play in both games. Some change for a player who was at sea against Mayo in Limerick in last year's All-Ireland semi-final replay.

Right half-back

Karl O'Connell (Monaghan)

A revelation for the Ulster champions. Made some blistering runs against Cavan and Fermanagh but took his game on to another level with how he penetrated Donegal. A wing-back of real pace.

Centre-back

Frank McGlynn (Donegal)

McGlynn has continued to raid relentlessly from Donegal's half-back line throughout the Ulster Championship, and even in defeat he was the runner who gave Monaghan most food for thought.

Left half-back

Jack McCaffrey (Dublin)

McCaffrey had an outstanding League and his recovery from a dip in 2014 has continued apace. Always a threat going forward, he got the second goal against Westmeath but it's in contact, ripping ball away from opponents, that is perhaps the biggest improvement in his game.

Midfield

David Moran (Kerry)

Moran's tour de force in a saturated Killarney saw him return to his best with a performance of huge industry. Hasn't played much in Munster- black-carded in the drawn Cork game having missed Tipperary with injury - but he's done enough to take over from Cork's Alan O'Connor.

Midfield

Neil Gallagher (Donegal)

Keeping last year's All Star partnership intact, Gallagher lorded it against Derry with one of the displays of the Championship, having been very solid against Tyrone and Armagh. Found the going tougher against Owen Lennon on Sunday but still effective.

Right half-forward

Peter Harte (Tyrone)

Not tied to any position but Harte has been influential this season wherever he has gone, delivering high-tempo displays as Tyrone have recovered against Limerick, Meath and Tipperary. Posed plenty of problems too for Donegal in Ulster on the opening day.

Centre-forward

Ciaran Kilkenny (Dublin)

Had his indifferent days in the League as he adjusted after a year out with a cruciate ligament but has been hugely industrious and prolific; four points against Kildare, either side of three-point contributions against Longford and Westmeath and a wealth of clever assists underline the value of his return.

Left half-forward

Diarmuid Connolly (Dublin)

Dublin's Rolls Royce has moved effortlessly through the Leinster Championship weaving his own brand of magic as both creator and finishers. His passing and long-range points off left and right were a highlight against Westmeath, while he bagged 2-3 against Kildare.

Right corner-forward

Mark Collins (Cork)

Another position in attack devoted to the sweeper/utility man but throughout League and Munster Championship Collins has fitted the role behind Cork's midfield perfectly. Even in defeat on Saturday night he linked superbly.

Full-forward

Aidan O'Shea (Mayo)

His wrecking ball tour of Connacht complete, O'Shea heads for the business end in Croke Park in the form of his life. Greater physical tests await than those he faced against Galway and Sligo but O'Shea looks like he's at the peak of his career, marrying skill, deft hands, awareness and physique.

Left corner-forward

Conor McManus (Monaghan)

It's not just the quality of the points from play that he's scored, it's been the timing of them too. Against Cavan, his first shook Monaghan from an early slumber, his last from a very tight angle secured a tricky win. On Sunday, his first left Donegal in a state of bewilderment, his last was ultimately the difference.

Irish Independent

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