GAA Football

Tyrone's Colm Cavanagh Ulster's sole 2017 PwC GAA/GPA Football Allstar

Tyrone's Colm Cavanagh has won his first Football Allstar, the only Ulster recipient this year. Picture Seamus Loughran

2017 Football PwC GAA/GPA Allstars:

ULSTER only collected one Football Allstar last night but it will be warmly welcomed in Tyrone with Colm Cavanagh at last collecting the prized accolade.

As in the All-Ireland Final, Dublin just edged out Mayo, winning seven awards to the westerners' six, with the other place on the team going to Kerry forward Paul Geaney.

For the second year in a row, a Mayo man was selected as 'Footballer of the Year' by his GPA peers, the award going to the beaten finalists' forward Andy Moran. 

As anticipated, Dublin forward Con O'Callaghan was chosen as `Young Footballer of the Year', and he also earned an Allstar.

The hurling awards went to Galway's Joe Canning and Conor Whelan.

Cavanagh's selection, after five previous awards for his older brother Sean, means that the Moy men become the 12th set of brothers to be awarded football Allstars.

There was no doubt about the other midfielder, Dublin's James McCarthy, a Footballer of the Year nominee, but Cavanagh had to hold off a strong challenge from Mayo's Tom Parsons.

One of the big talking points was the first position on the team, with Mayo's David Clarke again winning out as goalkeeper against Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton, with both also having been nominated for 'Footballer of the Year'.

Clarke's consistency throughout the season, in League and Championship, plus the large amount of important saves he made, won him more support from the selectors.

However, it was acknowledged that Cluxton enjoyed an excellent season too, and the Dublin skipper's game management and level of performances would surely have won him an Allstar too if he were an outfield player rather than a goalkeeper.

The defence was split equally between Mayo and Dublin, three apiece, with the greatest discussion surrounding whether or not Lee Keegan merited a place in this year's team.

In the end, last season's 'Footballer of the Year' missed out, despite his superb man-marking performance and goal in the All-Ireland Final. Ironically, that display from the Mayo man may well have cost his direct opponent that day, Dublin's playmaker Ciaran Kilkenny, a place in the attack.

The Dublin defenders chosen were Michael Fitzsimons, Cian O'Sullivan, and 2015 Footballer of the Year Jack McCaffrey, despite the last-named being forced off injured early on in the All-Ireland Final.

The Mayo backs given the nod were Chris Barrett, Colm Boyle, and Keith Higgins, with those last two both collecting Allstars for the fourth time.

Four players were chosen again from last year's selection – goalkeeper Clarke, his Mayo colleague Boyle, Kerry's Geaney, and Dublin's Dean Rock, who kicked the winning free in the All-Ireland Final.

There were first Allstars for five players: Cavanagh, Dublin defender Fitzsimons, Mayo's versatile back Barrett, and Dublin forwards Con O'Callaghan and Paul Mannion.

To no surprise whatsoever, Mayo's veteran forward Moran – who turned 34 yesterday – was selected in attack, along with his team-mate Aidan O'Shea, who had featured at full-back in the All-Ireland semi-final and replay against Kerry.

There was little argument about most of the attacking choices, although Dublin's Kilkenny had his advocates, as did Mayo's Kevin McLoughlin.

2017 Football PwC GAA/GPA Allstars:

GOALKEEPER

1 David Clarke (Mayo)

DEFENDERS

2 Chris Barrett (Mayo)

3 Michael Fitzsimons (Dublin)

4 Keith Higgins (Mayo)

5 Colm Boyle (Mayo)

6 Cian O'Sullivan (Dublin)

7 Jack McCaffrey (Dublin)

MIDFIELDERS

8 Colm Cavanagh (Tyrone)

9 James McCarthy (Dublin)

FORWARDS

10 Dean Rock (Dublin)

11 Aidan O'Shea (Mayo)

12 Con O'Callaghan (Dublin)

13 Paul Mannion (Dublin)

14 Paul Geaney (Kerry)

15 Andy Moran (Mayo)

/////////////////////////////////////

FOOTBALLER OF THE YEAR:

Andy Moran (Mayo)

YOUNG FOOTBALLER OF THE YEAR:

Con O'Callaghan (Dublin)

//////////////////////////////////////////////

2017 Football PwC GAA/GPA Allstars:

GOALKEEPER

1 David Clarke (Mayo)

Age: 33 Club: Ballina Stephenites

The best goalkeeper throughout the League. The best goalkeeper up to the All-Ireland quarter-finals – and he maintained those high standards almost to the very end. Even criticising his last kick-outs in the All-Ireland Final is harsh, given the fouling by Dublin forwards – and don't forget Stephen Cluxton's kick-out problems in the first half.

The Dublin goalkeeper was excellent too, but Mayo's number one was the country's number one. Clarke made a series of superb saves throughout the season, at least a dozen important ones, usually stops that really mattered, as Mayo were mostly involved in tight tussles – he was key to their semi-final replay win over nemeses Kerry.

Second Allstar (also last year)

DEFENDERS

2 Chris Barrett (Mayo)

Age: 30 Club: Belmullet

Usually named in the Mayo half-back line but his positioning here is indicative of the huge amount of defensive work he put in over the season, wherever he was asked to plug gaps. Superb in the All-Ireland Final, 'man of the match' in the eyes of many observers, making heroic blocks along with vital interceptions and turnovers.

Got the better of former Footballer of the Year James O'Donoghue of Kerry in the semi-final replay. Despite those defensive duties, he still managed to get forward to augment his attack and even got a couple of Championship points.

First Allstar

3 Michael Fitzsimons (Dublin)

Age: 28 Club: Cuala

An on-off on again inter-county career has blossomed recently; the star of last year's final replay was consistently impressive this season, throughout the League and the Championship. His importance to Dublin's defensive effort is shown by the men he mostly marked in the major matches – namely Monaghan's Conor McManus, Tyrone's Mark Bradley, and Andy Moran of Mayo. None of them got more than a point from play off him, with two of Moran's coming against other Dublin defenders.

Showed his defensive nous by reacting to block the rebound after Stephen Cluxton's vital save from Jason Doherty in the All-Ireland Final.

First Allstar

4 Keith Higgins (Mayo)

Age: 32 Club: Ballyhaunis

Mayo will miss him when he's gone and they certainly missed him when he was off the pitch. They narrowly lost the Connacht SFC semi-final to Galway after his red card, and struggled in their first qualifier against Derry without him due to suspension, but got better and better after his return to the team. Generally did his man-marking duties very well but also excelled when counter-attacking, notably in the All-Ireland quarter-final replay trouncing of Roscommon.

Deployed as a sweeper at times, he alertly anticipated danger and brought the ball out of defence with pace and purpose.

Fourth Allstar (also 2012, 2013, and 2014)

5 Colm Boyle (Mayo)

Age: 31 Club: Davitt's

A player seemingly more valued by journalists than even by his manager, who had a tendency to take him off in most matches, but what he did in the time on the pitch allowed to him earned him his fourth Allstar.

Not at his best in the All-Ireland Final, losing the lively Con O'Callaghan for the early goal, but didn't allowed him anything more after that, and scored a point himself, before being forced off injured.

Highly impressive, though, in both semi-final games against Kerry, netting a great goal in the draw and earning 'Star Man' in the replay.

Fourth Allstar (also 2013, 2014, and last year)

6 Cian O'Sullivan (Dublin)

Age: 29 Club: Kilmacud Croke's

Literally central to the defensive element of Dublin's game-plan, whether that's deeper close to the 'square', sweeping further forward, or man-marking around the centre half-back zone. Always calm and composed, cool in collecting possession and precise in moving the ball on to colleagues.

Rarely puts himself in a position where he has to foul as he reads the game so well, and seems to cruise through matches with the unruffled air of a man out for a Sunday stroll. Still, can use his physique when required, either on the ground or in the air, an all-round class act.

Third Allstar (also 2013 and 2015)

7 Jack McCaffrey (Dublin)

Age: 24 Club: Clontarf

Destroyed Tyrone in the All-Ireland semi-final with his pace and clever running. Scored one point that day to bring his Championship tally to five, but created so many more openings for colleagues with his speed, movement, and unselfish passing.

Adaptable enough to operate in attack, but gave very little away defensively because he so often puts opponents on the back foot.

His departure early in the All-Ireland final clearly adversely affected Dublin – and proved his worth to the All-Ireland Champions. Throughout this campaign he demonstrated the quality that had earned him the Footballer of the Year award two years ago.

Second Allstar (also 2015)

MIDFIELDERS

8 Colm Cavanagh (Tyrone)

Age: 30 Club: Moy Tir na nOg

At last the younger Cavanagh has deservedly earned an Allstar to follow in the footsteps of his illustrious older brother Sean, who has won five.

Colm has been a key player for the Red Hands in recent seasons, often operating as a sweeper, but this season he performed as a classic all-round midfielder.

Superb in the Ulster semi-final against Donegal – especially in the air – even against Michael Murphy, and excellent too in the All-Ireland quarter-final against arch-rivals Armagh.

The one Tyrone player to show fighting spirit against Dublin, he added attacking thrust to his renowned defensive capabilities.

First Allstar

9 James McCarthy (Dublin)

Age: 27 Club: Ballymun Kickham's

Such is the competition for places in this Dublin team that adaptability and a change of position certainly paid off for McCarthy. A winner at right wing-back three years ago, he revelled in his move to midfield.

The fact he is best-known as a defender didn't mean he played negatively, though, indeed far from it. His powerful running was an asset to the attack and he scored 1-3, including two key points in the second half of the All-Ireland Final – despite having to drop back into defence at wing-back after injury forced off Jack McCaffrey.

Second Allstar (also 2014)

FORWARDS

10 Dean Rock (Dublin)

Age: 27 Club: Ballymun

A strange Championship campaign, in one sense confirming the jibe that 'he's just there for the frees', with only one point scored from play before the All-Ireland Final. However, 'Deano' had also netted three goals in his tally of 3-24 up until that, er, point, and he really produced the goods on the biggest stage of all. The Ballymun man scored 0-7 in the decider, four from play, and kicked important frees at the end of each half – including the one that made the different in the end.

Full of running and showed improved link play throughout the season too.

Second Allstar (number 13 last year)

11 Aidan O'Shea (Mayo)

Age: Club: Breaffy

It could be argued that he made his most notable appearances in defence but that would be to overlook his performances in his more familiar forward role as he helped drag Mayo back to the All-Ireland series after their Connacht exit against old rivals Galway.

A powerhouse throughout the qualifiers and in the All-Ireland quarter-final replay against Roscommon.

He did OK at full-back first time against Kerry's Kieran Donaghy, then far better on him in the replay. Made a fabulous start to the All-Ireland Final back in his more accustomed attacking role and continued to work hard.

Third Allstar (midfield in 2013 and full-forward in 2015)

12 Con O'Callaghan (Dublin)

Age: 21 Club: Cuala

A dual talent, the Cuala cub shone like a jewel in the Dublin attack, really catching the eye with stunning early goals in both the All-Ireland semi-final and Final, having also starred in their Leinster Final triumph.

Finished the season with a tally of 2-20 from six matches, and showed the all-round ability required of a top class forward.

Those two goals demonstrated his speed and shooting power, slicing through the Tyrone and Mayo defences, but he also takes points and confidently converted six frees (in a tally of 0-12) after Dean Rock was black-carded early in the Leinster Final.

First Allstar

13 Paul Mannion (Dublin)

Age: 24 Club: Kilmacud Croke's

Starting in his third All-Ireland SFC Final this year, Mannion really came of age in the decider, and in the closing stages of the Championship. He scored three points from play against Monaghan and impressed against Tyrone. Found it hard going at first against Mayo's Paddy Durcan but revelled when up against Brendan Harrison, who handled a few other Dublin forwards pretty well. Mannion, though, kick-started Dublin's second half scoring and he added two more points from play to help to three-in-a-row. Probably should have grabbed a goal too but his pace and score-taking ability were usually top notch.

First Allstar

14 Paul Geaney (Kerry)

Age: 26 Club: Dingle

Kerry aren't what they were but Paul Geaney's quality still shone through to merit a second consecutive Allstar. Scored 1-29 over just five matches, half of that – 1-13 – from play. His free-taking was impressive, including in difficult conditions in the drawn semi-final against Mayo, and he was the Kingdom's best player in the replay, scoring 0-10.

Yet it was his strength and movement as a classic full-forward that impressed the most, with five points from play across both those matches against last year's Allstar corner-back Brendan Harrison. Has overtaken 2014 'FotY' James O'Donoghue as Kerry's main man in attack.

Second Allstar (number 15 last year)

15 Andy Moran (Mayo)

Age: 34 Club: Ballaghaderreen

Celebrated his 34th birthday yesterday (Thursday) but his performances this year were more akin to those of a man a decade younger.

Ended the season as the Championships top scorer from play, with 3-24 over 10 matches, a strong scoring average.

Terrific in the first half of the All-Ireland Final, hampered by a hamstring injury thereafter, but in the second period he still assisted Keegan's goal and set up Doherty's chance.

Brilliant too in both matches against Kerry, starring with 1-5 in the drawn game, nearly netting again only for a Shane Enright block, and notched 1-1 in the replay.

Second Allstar (first in 2011)

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe from just £1 for the first month to get full access

GAA Football

Today's horoscope

Horoscope


See a different horoscope: