Four Derrymen chosen among 2023 PwC GAA/GPA Football Allstars

Derry quartet Conor McCluskey, Brendan Rogers. Shane McGuigan and Gareth McKinless with their Allstar awards Picture: Sportsfile
Derry quartet Conor McCluskey, Brendan Rogers. Shane McGuigan and Gareth McKinless with their Allstar awards Picture: Sportsfile Derry quartet Conor McCluskey, Brendan Rogers. Shane McGuigan and Gareth McKinless with their Allstar awards Picture: Sportsfile

1 Stephen Cluxton (Parnell’s and Dublin)

It’s a measure of Cluxton’s impact this season that he earned more votes than Kerry goalkeeper Shane Ryan, who had an absolutely outstanding season. His longevity is illustrated by this, his seventh Allstar, coming 21 years after his first.

The Parnell’s clubman coming out of retirement was a major factor in Dublin regaining the Sam Maguire. The 41-year-old brought a calm composure at the back as well as delivering kick-outs with his famed trademark accuracy. Made his saves too, with his long streak of clean sheets only finally ended by Paul Geaney’s goal in the All-Ireland Final.

Seventh Allstar (previously in 2002, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2013, and 2019)

2 Conor McCluskey (Magherafelt and Derry)

The Magherafelt man arguably merited an Allstar last season – he definitely deserves one this year. His searing pace catches the eye as he’s able to get forward on a regular basis, scoring a goal against Monaghan in Ulster, and setting up another against Donegal in the All-Ireland group stages.

His speed also meant he still did his defensive duties to great effect, particularly when getting the better of Kerry’s experienced Paudie Clifford in the All-Ireland semi-final, but also able to get out in front of key opposition dangermen such as Conor McManus and Oisin Gallen.

First Allstar

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3 Michael Fitzsimons (Cuala and Dublin)

There’s no doubt that his defensive display against Kerry kingpin David Clifford in the All-Ireland Final went a long way to winning Fitzsimons this Allstar, his fourth overall. The Cuala clubman tracked the Kingdom star with dogged determination, but also with calm composure, rarely fouling. His close attentions undoubtedly contributed to some frustrated shooting choices from Clifford.

In his absence, Louth’s Sam Mulroy found freedom in the Leinster Final, and the Dublin defence certainly looked more assured with the experienced Fitzsimons back at its heart as the campaign entered more difficult phases. Has got better as his career went on.

Fourth Allstar (previously in 2017, 2019, and 2020)

4 Tom O’Sullivan (Dingle and Kerry)

The 27-year-old has been one of the most dependable defenders of recent years and once again he was the best of the Kerry backs. Although the Kingdom defensive system has become well-drilled under Paddy Tally’s direction, the Dingle was still able to augment his marking duties with attacking contributions. Indeed he scored 0-9 over the Championship, getting on the scoresheet in five of eight outings. Perhaps more importantly, he also got the better of the previously impressive Cormac Costello of Dublin in the All-Ireland Final, keeping Kerry in contention.

Third Allstar (previously in 2019 and 2021)

5 James McCarthy (Ballymun and Dublin)

Talk of him being ‘Footballer of the Year’ was over the top, more of a career compliment than a seasonal assessment, but he was still a driving force for Dublin as they regained the Sam Maguire Cup. Rode his luck in terms of discipline in the final but that performance of passion and physicality, allied with his undoubted footballing ability, exemplified what he has always brought to the Dubs. Stood out against a Mayo side who fancied their chances and as well as his own scores – including a goal against Louth – he created openings for colleagues too.

Fifth Allstar (previously in 2014, 2017, 2018, and 2020)


6 Gareth McKinless (Ballinderry and Derry)

The Ballinderry man was consistently very good throughout Ulster and the group series, organising and controlling the Derry defensive effort. However it was in Croke Park that he really revelled, putting in outstanding displays against both Cork and Kerry. His contribution ensured that Derry got past the former, and his attacking efforts almost carried them over the Kingdom into the final. His forward forays were increasingly a feature in big games. He pushed up to net against Kerry and only a stunning save from goalkeeper Shane Ryan denied him a second goal.

First Allstar

7 Conor McCarthy (Scotstown and Monaghan)

The Scotstown man had always been an impressive forward but his permanent transformation to wing-back was a revelation. He started the season in attack but was moved back during the Ulster game against Tyrone and it worked wonders. Outstanding in that win, he also scored 1-2 against Kildare, including the winner of that preliminary quarter-final, as part of a tally of 2-8 from play across the Championship. He added three points against Armagh in that dramatic quarter-final victory. Dublin were the only team to stop him scoring, but he still caused them plenty of bother.

First Allstar


8 Brian Fenton (Raheny and Dublin)

The big man for the biggest stages. Twice Footballer of the Year already, he’s back in that reckoning this year because of his displays in the major matches. Steady early on in the season, he really stood out when it mattered most, with massive performances in the second halves of both the semi-final against Monaghan and the Final against Kerry. Upped his scoring rate in the closing stages of the Championship too, but it was his ball-winning ability and leadership that were equally important in edging Dublin back onto the winners’ podium.

Sixth Allstar (previously in 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, and 2020)

9 Brendan Rogers (Slaughtneil and Derry)

Another Footballer of the Year nominee, the Slaughtneil clubman showcased his all-round talent after his permanent move to midfield for Derry. Perfect for that role with his defensive nous, his athleticism, his aerial ability, and his scoring power – ending up with 1-10 in the Championship campaign.

Netted that goal early on in the Ulster Final against Armagh, one of many excellent displays. Saved his best for last when he ran relentlessly in the All-Ireland semi-final against Kerry, almost dragging Derry into the Final.

First Allstar

10 Paudie Clifford (Fossa and Kerry)

A third consecutive Allstar for the elder Clifford brother, also the third time in conjunction with his iconic younger sibling David. Two quite different players, and characters, with Paudie more hot-headed, although that’s understandable and probably necessary in the battles for ball around the middle third. Paudie’s energy and effort are key to Kerry in the tougher tussles and he still shows the silk of his passing and assist-making to go along with the steel of his ball-winning. Battled typically hard against Derry and Dublin, his scores against the latter keeping Kerry close.

Third Allstar (previously in 2021 and 2022)

11 Seanie O’Shea (Kenmare and Kerry)

The Kenmare Shamrocks clubman has raised expectations to the extent that a quieter game attracts adverse attention – yet a Championship scoring tally of 2-39, 2-15 of that from play, could not be overlooked. Didn’t shine against Dublin in the decider but he did stand out for the Kingdom in other major matches. Impressive against both Cork and Louth in the group stages, he was even better in the quarter-final (Tyrone) and semi-final (Derry). A classic centre-forward combination of physicality, effort, and scoring power, always to be relied upon for placed ball conversions and scores from play.

Third Allstar (previously in 2019 and 2022)


12 Enda Smith (Boyle and Roscommon)

The Boyle clubman has been a major player for Roscommon for a decade but really excelled this year. Set the tone with a stunning substitute appearance against Tyrone in the League and continued to stand out. Scored a goal in the Championship upset of Mayo, set one up against Galway, and was a powerful force in every outing – indeed he was selected ‘Man of the Match’ on three occasions. On top of his work-rate and creativity he also scored a series of superb points.

First Allstar

13 David Clifford (Fossa and Kerry)

Fell short of his exceptionally high standards in the All-Ireland Final with some off-target shooting but the Fossa forward is still head and shoulders above almost every other attacker on the island. Racked up 5-39 over eight matches, able to take all sorts of scores – goals, remarkable points, frees, and marks. Stepped up when Kerry really needed him in the second half of the semi-final against Derry. Delivered some extraordinary assists too, with exceptional kick-passes leading to goals against Tyrone in the quarter-final and Kerry in the Final.

Fifth Allstar (previously in 2018, 2019, 2021, and 2022)


14 Shane McGuigan (Slaughtneil and Derry)

A superb season from the Slaughtneil man, which earned him the Ulster Footballer of the Year accolade from The Irish News readers. Finished as top scorer overall in the championship with a total of 2-52 (58) from seven matches, an amazing average return of almost 7.5 points per game.

Excellent throughout Ulster, especially in the final against Armagh, and carried that form into the All-Ireland series. A true leader for his team, showing his class against Kerry in the semi-final despite shipping plenty of physical punishment.

First Allstar

15 Colm Basquel (Ballyboden and Dublin)

Edged out David Clifford to finish as the top scorer from play in the Championship, with a tally of 5-17 (he added one free). There were strong cases made for colleagues Cormac Costello and Paul Mannion, especially after the latter’s Final display, but Basquel was the most consistent of the Dublin attackers.

The Ballyboden man has been around the senior scene for seven seasons but this was the one when he really demonstrated his attacking ability, with his pace, clever movement, and accurate finishing proving problematic for every defence he faced.

First Allstar