Thursday 14 December 2017

Select your GAA dream teams

Win Premium trip to All-Ireland football or hurling final plus €2500 if you match the choices of our team of experts

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The Irish Independent and PwC have come together for a competition to pick the 'greatest-ever' GAA team with very strict selection parameters.

Picking the best team to cover the period since the All Stars were introduced in 1971 is, perhaps, a relatively straightforward task. But picking it with the imposition of being restricted to just one player per county in football and two per county in hurling makes for a much more difficult challenge.

It will demand balance, patience and ultimately much sacrifice over the next few weeks when it comes to making the big decisions on who to omit.

How do you align the 15 football counties with players in the positions that they are needed most?

It stands to reason that the last 42 years have thrown up some of the greatest forwards in the game.

Inevitably, with the parameters of this competitions set so narrowly, some of those great names are bound to lose out.

In football Mike Sheehy and Colm Cooper are two of Kerry's greatest players and two of the game's best exponents of corner-forward play. But, in the context of your team, can you afford to select either of them and risk more weakened selections with some of the mid-ranking counties with a much slimmer list of potential candidates?

Peter Canavan is unquestionably Tyrone's greatest footballer, but, like the Cooper and Sheehy question, does it suit the balance of your team to include him?

Would it suit your selection more to incorporate Brian Dooher in the half-forward line and make room for Mattie Forde, Matt Connor or even Declan Browne. Or perhaps you believe Canavan, for example, is simply indispensable.

Obviously, with just one choice per county, Jack O'Shea and Pat Spillane can't both be on the team.

In hurling, the main difficulty will be deciding which two Kilkenny players to include.

Is it beyond comprehension that Henry Shefflin, DJ Carey and Eddie Keher could be omitted because the greater need on your team is for a couple of Kilkenny defenders instead?

Or does Shefflin have to be one of the two Kilkenny choices regardless of balance and strength elsewhere?

These are the choices you must make.

One thing guaranteed is that, when you sit down to pick your team, you will end up tearing up your sheet of paper and starting all over again – quite a few times.

Our football and hurling judging panels are made up of some former All-Ireland winning managers.

Galway's Cyril Farrell, Tipperary's Michael 'Babs' Keating and Wexford's Liam Griffin have come together to deliberate on the hurling team, while former Galway, Mayo and Leitrim manager John O'Mahony, Down's All-Ireland winning manager Pete McGrath and Irish Independent GAA editor Martin Breheny will finalise the football team.

Over the next few weeks we will publish the team selections of various guests who have deliberated as a guide to how others are thinking, alternating between football one week and hurling the next.

Ultimately, the choice is yours. The teams that align themselves closest to the selection of the judging panel will be declared the winners.

In the unlikely event of a tie-break the judging panel have included six substitutes from counties not included in their teams.

It is important to note that for the "PwC Challenge" the All Star list is to be used merely as a guide – you are not restricted to selecting only players who have won awards over the last 42 years.

There are, of course, options from some counties who fall out of the All Star category.

* A full list of the football and hurling

All Star winners is available on

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