Three Cavan football Allstars for 2020 with nine for Dublin
CAVAN celebrations, Dublin delight, but moans from Mayo will surely be the mood music from the 2020 PwC Football Allstars selection.
You wait 23 years for an Allstar…and then three come along at once. Cavan's heroics in winning an extraordinary Ulster title have been rewarded with the triple thrill of individual accolades for Raymond Galligan, Padraig Faulkner, and Thomas Galligan.
Dublin's dominance in extending their winning streak to a sixth consecutive crown has brought them nine Allstars: Michael Fitzsimons, James McCarthy, John Small, Eoin Murchan, Brian Fenton, Niall Scully, Ciaran Kilkenny, Con O'Callaghan, and Dean Rock.
Nine is the most for one county since Kerry's four-in-a-row team of 1981, a tally also matched by the great Dublin side of 1977.
Somewhat controversially, the champions' huge tally came at the expense of Mayo, who performed creditably in the All-Ireland Final but receive just two awards, namely young defender Oisin Mullin and scoring star and captain Cillian O'Connor. Patrick Durcan, a winner last year, was regarded as a very strong contender at wing-back but was squeezed out of the side by Dublin defender Murchan.
The 15 is completed by Tipperary forward Conor Sweeney, becoming his county's third Allstar after Michael Quinlivan (2016) and Declan Browne (2003).
In a season truncated by the Covid-19 pandemic, only the four provincial champions earned awards. At least Cavan and Tipp provided surprise winners in Ulster and Munster, with an 85-year gap bridged in the south-west province as Tipperary shocked Cork, who had shocked Kerry themselves in the semi-final.
In all there are eight first-time Allstars this year, including Sweeney and the Cavan contingent, obviously. More surprisingly there are three Dubs in that category, with an Allstar at last for the combative Small, as well as Murchan and Scully, plus one for Mayo newcomer Mullin.
Cavan captain and goalkeeper Raymond Galligan becomes the 800th different Allstar confirmed across both codes since 1971, with the hurling selection only set to be revealed on tomorrow night's RTE television broadcast.
Having only won two Allstars previously – Ollie Brady in 1978 and Dermot McCabe in 1997 - Cavan have now exceeded that in one season, with two of them coming for the Lacken club, to the Galligan cousins.
Lacken has been outdone, though – as has Mayo – by north Dublin outfit Ballymun, who add three more winners to their roll of honour, in McCarthy, Small, and Rock, with two for Cuala in Fitzsimons and O'Callaghan.
Some Dublin supporters (and others) have argued that they've merited more Allstars in recent years, after four seasons of seven apiece and six in 2016.
There can be no complaints in that regard now, nor, realistically, too much from the other side of that argument. Four backs for a defence which did not concede a single goal in five Championship matches? Four forwards from an attack which comfortably saw off all opponents? And the peerless Brian Fenton at midfield?
Dublin's conversion rate this year, from 13 nominees, mirrors their scoring on the pitch; Mayo's two from 12 will add further to their hurt.
As ever, arguments will rage about some of the choices. The players themselves (the GPA membership who voted anyway) will have their say on the individual individual awards, with Mayo scoring machine Cillian O'Connor up against the Dublin duo of Brian Fenton and Ciaran Kilkenny for Footballer of the Year.
At least there will be some consolation for Mayo that they're guaranteed the Young Footballer of the Year accolade, the Connacht champs providing all three contenders in Tommy Conroy, Eoghan McLaughlin, and Oisin Mullin.
2020 PwC Football Allstars:
1 Raymond Galligan (Cavan)
2 Oisin Mullin (Mayo)
3 Padraig Faulkner (Cavan)
4 Michael Fitzsimons (Dublin)
5 James McCarthy (Dublin)
6 John Small (Dublin)
7 Eoin Murchan (Dublin)
8 Brian Fenton (Dublin)
9 Thomas Galligan (Cavan)
10 Niall Scully (Dublin)
11 Ciaran Kilkenny (Dublin)
12 Con O'Callaghan (Dublin)
13 Cillian O'Connor (Mayo)
14 Conor Sweeney (Tipperary)
15 Dean Rock (Dublin)
Dublin (9); Cavan (3); Mayo (2); Tipperary (1).
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).