Fifteen football Allstar nominations for All-Ireland champions Tyrone
TYRONE'S heroics in winning the All-Ireland SFC have secured them an extraordinary, unprecedented - at least for football - 15 nominations for Allstars, plus two contenders for Footballer of the Year.
The Red Hands' vice-captain Kieran McGeary and Conor Meyler are in the running for that latter accolade along with Mayo defender Lee Keegan. Tyrone attacker Darragh Canavan, son of former captain Peter, is one of the nominees for Young Footballer of the Year, for those born in 2000 or after.
'Peter the Great' was named the first Footballer of the Year in 1995 and the award has come to Tyrone twice more, Stephen O'Neill in 2005 and Sean Cavanagh in 2008.
Tyrone forward Cathal McShane has the rare distinction of receiving a nomination for the 2021 PwC GAA GPA Allstars despite not starting a single Championship match this year. However, the Owen Roe's, Leckpatrick clubman made a significant impact off the bench, including crucial goals in the All-Ireland Final against Mayo and the semi-final stunning of Kerry.
There's plenty to celebrate for one Armagh family as well, as the O'Neill brothers, Oisin and Rian of Crossmaglen, have both received nominations, in midfield and among the forwards respectively.
The O'Neills are nephews of Armagh legend Oisin McConville, who won Allstars in 2000 and 2002, but the Orchard County hasn't received on of these honours since Ronan Clarke got his second in 2008.
In all, Ulster footballers account for almost half the 45 nominations, 21 going to the northern province, with three for Ulster Finalists Monaghan - goalkeeper Rory Beggan, defender Ryan McAnespie, and forward Jack McCarron - and one for Donegal, Michael Langan.
Beaten All-Ireland Finalists Mayo get eight contenders, closely followed by Kerry on seven, after the Kingdom's narrow defeat by Tyrone in the All-Ireland semi-final. Dethroned champs Dublin have only five, after Mayo shocked them at the last four stage.
Eleven counties have names on this year's list, with places for Clare forward Eoin Cleary, Cork defender Sean Meehan, Galway's Shane Walsh, and Kildare's Daniel Flynn, those last two both among the attackers.
Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan rather surprisingly becomes the first All-Ireland winning number one from the county to receive an Allstar nomination, although Finbar McConnell won for that position in 1996.
The Red Hands have seven defenders in the mix - Frank Burns, Padraig Hampsey, Peter Harte, Kieran McGeary, Michael McKernan, Ronan McNamee, Conor Meyler - reflecting the fluidity of their formation, with all of those contributing going forward too. Indeed Meyler, who is a certainty for an Allstar, might yet be placed among the forwards when the final 15 is selected.
Both young Tyrone midfielders, Brian Kennedy of Derrylaughan and Edendork's Conn Kilpatrick, have been nominated, although they may face tough battles for an Allstar against Mayo's Matthew Ruane and Kerry's David Moran in particular.
Still, the Red Hands will anticipate earning around half the places on the team after their first All-Ireland triumph in 13 years. Tyrone won seven Allstars in 2003, eight in 2005, and seven again in 2008.
Five of the Tyrone nominees have already won Allstars, namely Donnelly (2015 and 2016), Harte (2016), Hampsey (2018), McNamee (2019), and McShane (2019).
Beggan is the only previous winner among the other nominees from Ulster, chosen in 2018.
With 49 Allstars having come to the O'Neill County over the previous 50 years of official awards, Tyrone will obviously break through the half-century barrier.
Twenty-seven different Tyrone men have won Allstars, a total which will surely exceed 30 when the selection is decided in December.
The awards ceremony will be held on Friday December 10 with the venue yet to be confirmed.
2021 PwC GAA GPA Allstars nominations (by position):
Goalkeepers: Rory Beggan (Monaghan), Rob Hennelly (Mayo), Niall Morgan (Tyrone);
Defenders: Frank Burns, Padraig Hampsey, Peter Harte, Kieran McGeary, Michael McKernan, Ronan McNamee, Conor Meyler (all Tyrone); Stephen Coen, Patrick Durcan, Lee Keegan, Padraig O'Hora (all Mayo); Brian O Beaglaoich, Tom O'Sullivan, Gavin White (all Kerry); Michael Fitzsimons, Brian Howard (both Dublin); Sean Meehan (Cork); Ryan McAnespie (Monaghan).
Midfielders: Brian Kennedy, Conn Kilpatrick (both Tyrone); Matthew Ruane (Mayo); David Moran (Kerry); Brian Fenton (Dublin); Oisin O'Neill (Armagh).
Forwards: Mattie Donnelly, Darren McCurry, Conor McKenna, Cathal McShane, Niall Sludden (all Tyrone); David Clifford, Paudie Clifford, Sean O'Shea (all Kerry); Tommy Conroy, Ryan O'Donoghue (both Mayo); Cormac Costello, Ciaran Kilkenny (both Dublin); Rian O'Neill (Armagh); Eoin Cleary (Clare); Michael Langan (Donegal); Shane Walsh (Galway); Daniel Flynn (Kildare); Jack McCarron (Monaghan).
Nominations by county: Tyrone (15); Mayo (8); Kerry (7); Dublin (5): Monaghan (3); Armagh (2); Clare, Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kildare (one each).
2021 Footballer of the Year nominations: Lee Keegan (Mayo); Kieran McGeary, Conor Meyler (both Tyrone).
2021 Young Footballer of the Year nominations: Darragh Canavan (Tyrone); Oisin Mullin (Mayo); Matthew Tierney (Galway).