Selecting Cavanagh at wing-forward was a cop-out
Having previously been an All Stars selector for more than 20 years, I can usually take the annual announcements with a grain of salt.
The All Stars though have stood the test of time and are still highly prized among our leading players, while a less successful county winning one is regarded as a huge achievement.
There are always complaints about how few counties are represented on the football team, and this year was no exception with only five named, four of which were provincial champions.
On the surface, this should mean that the best players in the land are from the four champions, but that assumes 27 counties do not have a player worthy of being named an All Star. Is that really the case?
Various ideas have been floated to give a more representative choice, such as identifying an All Stars panel at the end of the National League; this seems a logical development, given the growing importance of the NFL.
From the foundation of the All Stars, there were two basic rules that lasted for many years.
Firstly, no player who had been sent off or suspended could be considered; and secondly, the players should be voted upon by position, one to 15. Many famous players fell foul of the former rule before the GAA relented and it was scrapped.
The second rule was also abandoned but, like many, I believe it should have been kept. The All Star team should indicate the best players who play in a certain position, even if positions are flexible in the modern age.
Instead, the selectors now seem to pick what they consider the best 15 players overall. That allowed Dublin's Cian O'Sullivan, best known as a midfielder, to be named at centre-half-back even though he only played there for short periods this year.
Also, selecting Sean Cavanagh as a wing-forward was a cop-out – he was the best attacking midfielder in the country this year, along with Michael Darragh Macauley. Cavanagh played no bad game in 2013, which cannot be said about several All Stars.
Midfield is still one of the cornerstone positions and to be named there is a huge honour. It should have been a vote between Cavanagh and Aidan O'Shea.
In the end, the selectors took the easier option by including these two great players. But the All Stars is about excellence, and naming the best man in each position is the correct way to reflect that excellence.