Thirteen counties and 17 Ulstermen among 2023 PwC Football Allstars nominees
THIRTEEN different counties are in the mix for PwC Football Allstars, illustrating the impact of the new group stage format for the Sam Maguire Cup.
All-Ireland SFC champions Dublin still lead the way with 10 nominees, but that is the lowest for the winners since the Dubs’ own breakthrough victory of this era in 2011 (also 10).
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Dublin are closely followed by beaten finalists Kerry, with nine, then Ulster champions Derry have seven, with four for the other All-Ireland semi-finalists Monaghan.
There are 17 Ulstermen nominated in total, with two each from defeated provincial finalists Armagh, Tyrone, and Donegal; that’s an increase on last year’s tally of 13 northern nominees.
Derry, after pushing Kerry so close in the last four and earning promotion back to Division One earlier in the year, are also in the running for even higher individual honours.
Brendan Rogers was selected as one of the three contenders for Footballer of the Year, along with Dublin midfielder Brian Fenton – a five-time Allstar and winner of the overall accolade in both 2018 and 2020 – and the current holder, Kerry captain David Clifford, who has four Allstars already.
The Derry midfielder just about edged out his Slaughtneil clubmate Shane McGuigan to be in that trio.
Both of them, of course, have been nominated for Allstars, along with Oak Leaf defenders Conor McCluskey, Eoin McEvoy, and Gareth McKinless, plus their other midfielder Conor Glass – an Allstar last year – and young forward Paul Cassidy.
McEvoy, still a teenager, is one of two Derry lads put up for the Young Footballer of the Year accolade, along with Ethan Doherty. The third name on that list is Roscommon’s Conor Carroll.
Monaghan’s four men up for Allstars are goalkeeper Rory Beggan, defenders Conor McCarthy and Karl O’Connell, and evergreen attacker Conor McManus.
Armagh defender Aidan Forker earned sufficient votes in defence to get onto the list of 45 nominees – and also a couple in attack, where his county colleague Andrew Murnin is in the running too.
The two Tyrone men are the Red Hands’ captain Padraig Hampsey, an Allstar in both 2018 and 2021, and attacker Darragh Canavan, whose famous father Peter won six such individual accolades as well as being named Footballer of the Year in 1995.
Donegal, despite a disappointing year which involved relegation, an early exit from Ulster, and defeat in the All-Ireland preliminary quarter-final, still have individual talents, and defender Brendan McCole and forward Oisin Gallen earned nominations for their performances.
There were also three nominations each for a trio of Connacht counties, Galway, Mayo, and Roscommon, with the first two having reached the Division One Final in the Allianz Football League. Galway captain Sean Kelly and forward Damien Comer have been put forward, Mayo have midfielder Diarmuid O’Connor and forward Jordan Flynn, while the Roscommon pair are defender Brian Stack and attacker Enda Smith.
Making up the tally of 13 counties represented were Cork, Kildare, and Westmeath, with one nominee apiece, namely Rory Maguire, Ben McCormack, and Ronan O’Toole respectively.
To no surprise whatsoever, the first of Dublin’s 10 nominations was goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton, who came out of retirement to help them regain ‘Sam’ after two seasons without the trophy.
Three of his defenders are in the mix - Michael Fitzsimons, Lee Gannon, and Brian Howard – and both men who usually featured at midfield: Footballer of the Year nominee Fenton, of course, and captain James McCarthy. Given the strength at midfield, notably Fenton and Rogers, the Ballymun man might hope to be chosen in defence, which remains a possibility under the selection process.
Dublin’s total of 10 is completed by four forwards - Colm Basquel, Cormac Costello, Paul Mannion, and Con O’Callaghan.
Kerry also have a goalkeeper in contention, the outstanding Shane Ryan, and their defensive solidity crafted by former Tyrone coach Paddy Tally is shown by the inclusion of four backs from the Kingdom among 18 nominations in that department: Jason Foley, Tadhg Morley, Tom O’Sullivan, and Gavin White.
Diarmuid O’Connor is among the midfield six – interestingly, alongside his aforementioned namesake from Mayo – and there are also three Kerry forwards: David Clifford, obviously, plus his brother Paudie Clifford and Sean O’Shea. Both Paudie and Seanie won Allstars last season, with O’Shea honoured before in 2019 and Clifford in 2021.
2023 PwC Football Allstar nominations (in alphabetical order of county):
Stephen Cluxton (Dublin); Shane Ryan (Kerry); Rory Beggan (Monaghan).
Aidan Forker (Armagh)
Rory Maguire (Cork)
Conor McCluskey, Eoin McEvoy, Gareth McKinless (all Derry)
Brendan McCole (Donegal)
Michael Fitzsimons, Lee Gannon, Brian Howard (all Dublin)
Sean Kelly (Galway)
Jason Foley, Tadhg Morley, Tom O’Sullivan, Gavin White (all Kerry)
Conor McCarthy, Karl O’Connell (both Monaghan)
Brian Stack (Roscommon)
Padraig Hampsey (Tyrone)
Conor Glass, Brendan Rogers (both Derry)
Brian Fenton, James McCarthy (both Dublin)
Diarmuid O’Connor (Kerry)
Diarmuid O’Connor (Mayo)
Andrew Murnin (Armagh)
Colm Basquel, Cormac Costello, Paul Mannion, Con O’Callaghan (all Dublin)
Paul Cassidy, Shane McGuigan (both Derry)
Oisin Gallen (Donegal)
David Clifford, Paudie Clifford, Sean O’Shea (all Kerry)
Damien Comer (Galway)
Ben McCormack (Kildare)
Jordan Flynn (Mayo)
Conor McManus (Monaghan)
Enda Smith (Roscommon)
Darragh Canavan (Tyrone)
Ronan O’Toole (Westmeath).
Footballer of the Year nominees: Brendan Rogers (Derry), Brian Fenton (Dublin), David Clifford (Kerry)
Young Footballer of the Year nominees: Ethan Doherty, Eoin McEvoy (both Derry), Conor Carroll (Roscommon).
2023 nominations (by county, in in alphabetical order):
Armagh (2): Aidan Forker and Andrew Murnin
Cork (1): Rory Maguire
Derry (7): Conor McCluskey, Eoin McEvoy, Gareth McKinless, Conor Glass, Brendan Rogers, Paul Cassidy, and Shane McGuigan
Donegal (2): Brendan McCole and Oisin Gallen
Dublin (10): Stephen Cluxton, Michael Fitzsimons, Lee Gannon, Brian Howard, Brian Fenton, James McCarthy, Colm Basquel, Cormac Costello, Paul Mannion, and Con O’Callaghan.
Galway (2): Sean Kelly and Damien Comer.
Kerry (9): Shane Ryan, Jason Foley, Tadhg Morley, Tom O’Sullivan, Gavin White, Diarmuid O’Connor, David Clifford, Paudie Clifford, and Sean O’Shea.
Kildare (1): Ben McCormack
Mayo (2): Diarmuid O’Connor and Jordan Flynn
Monaghan (4): Rory Beggan, Conor McCarthy, Karl O’Connell, and Conor McManus
Roscommon (2): Brian Stack and Enda Smith
Tyrone (2): Padraig Hampsey and Darragh Canavan
Westmeath (1): Ronan O’Toole.