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Tomás Ó Sé's Team of the Year: Brother Marc and Star won't talk to me for a month

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Donegal's Paul Durcan, is a clever guy to kick out ball and although he had a bad one in the final, he didn't cost Donegal an All-Ireland. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

Donegal's Paul Durcan, is a clever guy to kick out ball and although he had a bad one in the final, he didn't cost Donegal an All-Ireland. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

Keith Higgins' battle with Kerry's James O'Donoghue was one of the outstanding memories of the season. Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

Keith Higgins' battle with Kerry's James O'Donoghue was one of the outstanding memories of the season. Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

Kerry's David Moran made some return to the pitch after two cruciate injuries. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

Kerry's David Moran made some return to the pitch after two cruciate injuries. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

Diarmuid Connolly has it all when in full flow, and he was in full flow this year. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Diarmuid Connolly has it all when in full flow, and he was in full flow this year. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Donegal captain Michael Murphy's leadership and attitude throughout this campaign earns him the full-forward spot. Picture credit: Piaras O Midheach / SPORTSFILE

Donegal captain Michael Murphy's leadership and attitude throughout this campaign earns him the full-forward spot. Picture credit: Piaras O Midheach / SPORTSFILE

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Donegal's Paul Durcan, is a clever guy to kick out ball and although he had a bad one in the final, he didn't cost Donegal an All-Ireland. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

However much you might not like them, you always cast a wary eye over an end-of-year selection to see if you were in. Every player does it.

You can't open a newspaper these weeks without a 'best' team staring out at you. And there are always be arguments, 'this fella should be there, that fella should be there.'

One team we were always guaranteed to be in was Páidí's Sunday Independent selection at the end of every Championship. No matter how bad we might have been, Darragh would be at eight, Marc at two and myself at five. Without fail! We looked forward to it. I'd get a laugh out of it.

I could only imagine if he was around this now he'd stick me in somewhere, even though I hadn't played! That's the way he was. It's something you would miss.

All Stars are the big thing. I was lucky enough to be on a team that had you in the mix every year. I went up to banquets when the football team had been picked beforehand and I'd nearly throw the head sometimes if I wasn't in. "Jesus, I'm not going up to that bloody thing at all, I should have an All Star!"

It was pure arrogance from a young fella thinking that. You have to earn your All Stars. In time I've recognised what a brilliant accolade it is to get.

When I think of the All Stars, players like Declan Browne and Matty Forde jump out at me straight away, how fitting it is that they got them as much as any of our own. Kilkenny and Kerry players also really appreciate their All Stars.

Sitting down to pick my team of the year I realise the hazard that leaving out a player is. It is no easy task. But I had simple criteria. For me the time the time to perform is Championship. Provincial final, 'quarter', 'semi' and final. That was where you won your All Star. They were the biggest games. You prove yourself in the biggest games.

Donegal's Paul Durcan is my goalkeeper. He's a clever guy to kick out ball. Yes, he had a bad one in the final but that didn't cost them an All-Ireland.

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Aidan O'Mahony is my first corner-back. For a guy that wasn't on the team at the start he showed perseverance, leadership, experience and saved his best for last.

No argument with full-back. I love watching Neil McGee play. He can mark them big and small, an old-style full-back who still manages the modern game so well.

Beside him Keith Higgins got tighter as the year went on - his battle with James O'Donoghue in Limerick was one of the outstanding memories of the season.

Paul Murphy had a great opening season at right half-back, All-Ireland final man of the match, a bundle of energy, brave, tight and played every ball like it was his last.

At centre-back Peter Crowley is a 'horses for courses' selection, so under-rated. I don't think people look at him closely enough. That block in the final stands out for me, typifies him. And he's well able to tackle physically bigger men.

Frank McGlynn completes the line. He bombed forward all year, he's so comfortable on the ball but he defends well too.

David Moran and Neil Gallagher are my midfield pairing. Moran's display in Limerick was as good as I have seen for year, and after two cruciates it was some return.

Gallagher is getting better with age. He is deceptively quick and more clever than he is given credit for. He rose to every big occasion. Even in the final he shone.

Along with the 'Gooch,' Paul Flynn is arguably the best footballer, pound for pound, in the game. He is consistently delivering five-star performances.

Diarmuid Connolly has it all when in full flow and he was in full flow this year. I've marked him, he is a talented man and is as good as what is out there.

I've thrown the cat among the pigeons at left half-forward, where Donnachadh Walsh is a most under-rated player. He leaves everything out there every single time. That is more part of the modern game, doing the things people don't ordinarily see.

Another whiff of controversy, I accept, at right corner-forward with Ryan McHugh's selection. Okay, it's not his position but he has done it everywhere with Donegal and I just feel he can't be left out.

Kieran Donaghy is close at full-forward but Michael Murphy's leadership and attitude throughout earns it for him. Even in the last minutes of the final he was throwing everything at it.

James O'Donoghue is an easy choice. His Cork performance was the highlight but even as a marked man after he was still producing the goods. Not bad for a 'townie' from Killarney! It will be great to see himself and the 'Gooch' going together again next year.

I'll give special mention to three Mayo boys omitted, Colm Boyle, Aidan O'Shea and Cillian O'Connor. Maybe they are being hard done by. But these guys need to be getting into All-Ireland finals to be getting their gongs.

Other exclusions? Donaghy and Marc won't talk to me for a month after this, maybe I have done it out divilment!

This was my first year as a general follower and there were many highlights. I paid attention to a lot more games than I used to as a player but working in the media has brought a much different perspective.

Obviously Kerry's win stands out for me. We genuinely didn't expect to be back up there.

But there were so many different others strands to the season. I have always admired the Ulster Championship and the many varied derbies there are, maybe even more so now. It's a championship I'd love to have played in.

Certain teams can get one over on other teams, x should beat z, yet y is afraid of none of them. Of all the provinces it is one where you really struggle to pick a winner every year.

I really looked forward to this year's Ulster final. Monaghan hadn't been beaten in Clones for so long and, looking at the Division 2 league final, I half wrote off Donegal.

For Donegal to beat them there was phenomenal and you could see the emotion in Jim McGuinness afterwards. He rated it as good as anything they had achieved.

The football that day was as hard and as intense and as physical as ever. I often think that referees seem to let a lot go, simply because they have to.

Armagh's resurgence was another highlight and a lot of that was down to Kieran McGeeney.

A lot of people say they played defensive football but I'm sick of people speaking ill of this style. I find it as fascinating to watch as open football, how teams break it down, how defensive teams counter-attack, how they approach kick-outs.

Mayo winning four in a row out west was a fair achievement. They really want to win 'Sam' but, the longer they don't, the more questions will be asked.

They need to be coming in more under the radar in the way that suited Kerry this year. There is so much heat on them, any time they come out of Connacht they are being seen as world beaters.

The replay with Kerry in Limerick was probably the highlight of the year for me. The battle between Higgins and O'Donoghue stood out.

I know I was giving out about it being moved there but I never thought it wouldn't be a great occasion. I just thought it was wrong to have an American Football game in Croke Park during the busiest window of our season.

For me Dublin football is a highlight every year. I love watching the build-up, the media around them, the way they are so much bigger, not just in financial terms, but in following.

They just have this aura about them. As a player I used to love tearing into the middle of all that and upsetting it, beating them and showing that us fellas from the west don't fear anyone. That was the mindset always.

The Dubs have something special, they are the Manchester United of football, but they went out meekly against Donegal.

I love reading between the lines, looking at interviews for pointers and Jim Gavin has clearly hinted at a slightly different way next year. They will learn from it. Teams won't be afraid of them as much as they were and they need sterner tests in Leinster, but that's not their fault. The football Championship now has three, maybe four tiers. It's a concern, but an argument for another day.

In the end, the season came down to Eamonn Fitzmaurice showing just how clever he is in terms of setting out his team, creating the right spirit and making his players believe they are capable of more. He has been the man.

Tomás Ó Sé's team of the year:

1. Paul Durcan (Donegal)

2. Aidan O'Mahony (Kerry)

3. Neil McGee (Donegal)

4. Keith Higgins (Mayo)

5. Paul Murphy (Kerry)

6. Peter Crowley (Kerry)

7. Frank McGlynn (Donegal)

8. David Moran (Kerry)

9. Neil Gallagher(Donegal)

10. Paul Flynn (Dublin)

11. Diarmuid Connolly(Dublin)

12. Donnchadh Walsh (Kerry)

13. James O'Donoghue (Kerry)

14. Michael Murphy (Donegal)

15. Ryan McHugh (Donegal)


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