Posts Tagged ‘#allstars’

SO one month and two days since that day in Croke Park, a line will be finally drawn under Championship 2012 with the naming of this year’s All-Stars. Since way back in 19-dickity-2 when Johnny Carey (what a name) wrote his name into Mayo GAA history by becoming Mayo’s first All – Star, people have questioned the rationale behind the selection process.

The critics out there point to the exclusion of some of the greats of the game who were never acknowledged as one of the reasons to question the merit of the All-Stars, and there have been cases in recent times of players being picked on criteria only known by the selection committee.

If the rumour mill is correct, Dillon, Cafferkey, Higgins and Keegan will be the Mayo players to pick up awards. If this proves to be correct and Kevin McLoughlin and to a lesser extent Barry Moran are not honoured, then those critics will have a fairly compelling argument.

Whatever happens shouldn’t detract from anything that rewards players (think Christy Ring and Nicky Rackard All – Star winners) who deserve every accolade they get and much more.

So let’s see what happens before we get too riled up and for the winners I say cars, women and drugs (not the bad Lance Armstrong ones) for everyone; no money though, must keep things amateur.

Here’s my selection;

 

Paul Durcan – David Clarke undoubtedly made the save of the summer  from Bernard Brogan, but it was Durcan consistency and pinpoint kickouts throughout the summer that set him apart and gave Donegal such a strong platform.

Keith Higgins – He always had the pace and the attacking instincts but this year the Ballyhaunis man added a physicality that has brought him to a new level. One of the main reasons Mayo managed to recover their composure in the final.

Ger Cafferkey  – You might say it’s strange to pick two of the full back line that was so brutally exposed in the opening moments of the final but Caff deserves to be there. Only when you see him live do you appreciate what a tight marker he is. Classy footballer, hopefully will be there for years.

Neil McGee – Great year for the Gweedore man who’s been om the scene since 2005. Huge physical presence, his direct opponents rarely troubled him all year.

Frank McGlynn – Could have just as easily stuck him in the full forward line. A player who sums up the McGuinness era and who without the Donegal style, would never have flourished the way he has. Great defender, he also scored a not so shabby 1-4 in the championship.

Karl Lacey – The man who held the ball at the final whistle of the final game. He’s been on the scene for a long time; centre back has allowed him to exert the influence on the game that his talent demands.

Lee Keegan – A tossup between Keegan and Boyle. Scored a crucial point in the Connacht Final and came back from a horrific semi-final injury to inspire in the final.

Neil Gallagher – When everyone was talking about Aidan Walsh and Alan O’Connor in the build up to the semi – final, Gallagher thought them both a lesson in mid-field play and he continued that form into the final. Gallagher led the renaissance in high fielding this summer.

Barry Moran – Three man of the match performances against Leitrim, Sligo and Down. Was exceptional against Dublin where a big catch near the end lifted the siege. Disappointing in the final but should have done enough in previous games.

Kevin McLoughlin – Mayo’s best player all year. His importance was highlighted even more with the loss of Andy Moran. Work rate, intelligent use of possession and a lethal finisher. One of the most natural footballers in the game.

Paul Flynn – In a flat and un-motivated side Flynn was the stand-out performer. Scored heavily this year, his point in the second half of the semi – final was a highlight.

Mark Mc Hugh – McHugh is the pin-up boy of McGuinness’s regime. His foraging back in front of his own full-back line was the catalyst for so many of Donegal’s attacks. His immense fitness also allowed him to contribute handsomely to attack.

Michael Murphy – All the talk last year was of Murphy sacrificing his star quality for the sake of the system. This year he was back nearer to goal and realised his star potential in the All – Ireland final.

Colm McFadden – The Championship’s top scorer with 4-32. McFadden was a constant threat all year and performed on the biggest days. Should deservedly win player of the year.

Colm O’Neill – Recovered from last year’s injuries to show again what a brilliant player he is. In a year where Cork promised so much, a probable return of just one All – Star sums up a disappointing year.

Player of the Year: Colm McFaddan

Young Player of the Year: Paddy McBrearty

 

And Finally…

While presumably the Donegal team have been single-handedly raising Diageo’s share price, the relentless world of the GAA keeps moving on. From all accounts, Donie Buckley seems like a real addition and will give the squad a boost after the initial disappointment of Cian O’Neill’s departure. It’s Kerry in the first round of the league and before you know it we’ll be below in Salthill with the wonderful hope of a long summer spread out in front of us.

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