Cavan with seven contenders for 2020 Football Allstars although Dublin and Mayo dominate
ULSTERMEN account for almost a quarter of the 45 nominations for the 2020 PwC Football Allstars with 11, provincial champions Cavan leading the way with seven.
Beaten finalists Donegal have three contenders, while the other is from Armagh, the versatile Aidan Forker, who helped the Orchardmen return to Division One in the National Football League.
Obviously six-in-row All-Ireland winners Dublin topped the preliminary poll, with 13 contenders (the same as in 2019), closely followed by Mayo, the side they defeated in the December decider, who have 12 nominations.
Surprise Munster champions Tipperary have had four players put forward for the prized individual accolades after they marked the centenary of the GAA's 'Bloody Sunday' by shocking Cork in their provincial final.
After an extraordinary year for so many reasons there are nominations for 10 counties in all, including a first in a decade for Limerick, in the form of centre half-back Ian Corbett.
With the consequences of Covid-19 restricting the 2020 Championship campaigns to straight knockout in football, more weight has been given to performances in the League than has perhaps been the case in recent years, with Kerry having won Division One while Armagh, Cork, and Limerick all earned promotions from their respective divisions.
Despite the Kingdom's stunning last-gasp defeat by old rivals Cork in the Munster semi-final there's a nomination for attacker David Clifford; the Rebels also have midfielder Ian Maguire put forward.
The top flight league form of Galway attackers Shane Walsh and Paul Conroy, and their displays in the narrow Connacht Final defeat by Mayo, clearly contributed to their nominations.
Cavan may have been narrowly relegated from Division Two but it was their amazing journey to collect the Anglo-Celt Cup for 23 years for which their 2020 will be remembered.
The Breffni Blues' magnificent seven includes the Galligan cousins, captain and goalkeeper Raymond and midfielder/forward Thomas, who are probably their strongest contenders for inclusion in the Allstars team, which will be selected next month.
Of course, Dublin's own captain and 'keeper, Stephen Cluxton will have support for a seventh Allstar, having also earned the Footballer of the Year award for 2019.
Cavan hasn't had an Allstar since current selector Dermot McCabe won at half-forward in 1997, with their only other accolade coming for Ollie Brady in 1978.
Cavan's nominations this time also comprise the defensive trio of Padraig Faulkner, Ciaran Brady, and Gerard Smith, while the versatile duo of Gearoid McKiernan and Martin Reilly are in the mix too.
Donegal suffered a shock defeat in the Ulster Final, but their displays in Division One and in knocking Tyrone out in their provincial opener, have earned recognition for Peadar Mogan, Michael Langan, and Ciaran Thompson. Mogan is nominated among the defenders but it's his attacking prowess which mostly caught the eye.
There's little doubt that Dublin and Mayo will dominate the eventual team, however, and the Footballer of the Year will certainly come from one of those two counties, with Dubs Brian Fenton and Ciaran Kilkenny up against Mayo's star attacker and skipper Cillian O'Connor. Given his scoring feats over the years, somewhat surprisingly this should only be O'Connor's second Allstar, but a fourth for Kilkenny and a fifth for Fenton, who was the 2018 Footballer of the Year.
The Young Footballer of the Year trophy will definitely go to Mayo as all three nominees are from the Connacht champions – defenders Oisin Mullin and Eoghan McLaughlin and forward Tommy Conroy.
Both those awards will be voted for by the membership of the GPA.
A maximum of six of the 2019 winners can win for 2020 – Cluxton, Fenton, Michael Fitzsimons, and Con O'Callaghan, Mayo's Paddy Durcan, and Clifford, with three of the seven Dubs from the previous campaign not even among this set of nominees, namely Brian Howard, Jack McCaffrey, and Paul Mannion.
2020 Footballer of the Year nominees: Brian Fenton, Ciaran Kilkenny (both Dublin), Cillian O'Connor (Mayo).
2020 Young Footballer of the Year nominees: Tommy Conroy, Eoghan McLaughlin, Oisin Mullin (all Mayo).
2020 PwC Football Allstar nominations by county:
Dublin (13); Mayo (12); Cavan (7); Tipperary (4); Donegal (3); Galway (2); Armagh (1); Cork (1); Kerry (1); Limerick (1).
Dublin (13): Stephen Cluxton, Davy Byrne, Michael Fitzsimons, John Small, Eoin Murchan, Robbie McDaid, James McCarthy, Brian Fenton, Niall Scully, Ciaran Kilkenny, Sean Bugler, Con O'Callaghan, Dean Rock
Mayo (12): David Clarke, Chris Barrett, Paddy Durcan, Oisin Mullin, Eoghan McLaughlin, Lee Keegan, Matthew Ruane, Cillian O'Connor, Ryan O'Donoghue, Kevin McLoughlin, Tommy Conroy, Aidan O'Shea
Cavan (7): Raymond Galligan, Padraig Faulkner, Ciaran Brady, Gerard Smith, Thomas Galligan, Gearoid McKiernan, Martin Reilly
Tipperary (4): Kevin Fahy, Bill Maher, Colin O'Riordan, Conor Sweeney
Donegal (3): Peadar Mogan, Michael Langan, Ciaran Thompson
Galway (2): Paul Conroy, Shane Walsh
Armagh (1): Aidan Forker
Cork (1): Ian Maguire
Kerry (1): David Clifford
Limerick (1): Ian Corbett
Nominations by position:
David Clarke (Mayo), Stephen Cluxton (Dublin), Raymond Galligan (Cavan)
Davy Byrne, Michael Fitzsimons, Robbie McDaid, Eoin Murchan, John Small (all Dublin); Chris Barrett, Paddy Durcan, Lee Keegan, Eoghan McLaughlin, Oisin Mullin (all Mayo); Ciaran Brady, Padraig Faulkner, Gerard Smith (all Cavan); Kevin Fahy and Bill Maher (both Tipperary); Aidan Forker (Armagh); Peadar Mogan (Donegal); Ian Corbett (Limerick).
James McCarthy, Brian Fenton (both Dublin); Gearoid McKiernan (Cavan); Ian Maguire (Cork); Matthew Ruane (Mayo); Colin O'Riordan (Tipperary).
Sean Bugler, Niall Scully, Ciaran Kilkenny, Con O'Callaghan, Dean Rock (all Dublin); Cillian O'Connor, Tommy Conroy, Diarmuid O'Connor, Ryan O'Donoghue, Kevin McLoughlin (all Mayo); Thomas Galligan, Martin Reilly (Cavan); Michael Langan, Ciaran Thompson (Donegal); Paul Conroy, Shane Walsh (Galway); David Clifford (Kerry); Conor Sweeney (Tipperary).