In years to come when we look back on this decade, the narrative will no doubt centre on Dublin and their seven All-Ireland titles including a first-ever five-in-a-row.
Dublin dominated the latter half of the decade, the first five years saw Cork and Donegal both end a 20-year famine as well as an unexpected final appearance for Down.
When looking back on the decade, many may ponder whether or not it was a successful ten years for Gaelic football. Pundit Arena’s GAA correspondent Michael Corry made the argument this week that despite the rise of blanket defences and sweeper systems, the decade as a whole gave fans plenty of memorable moments to cherish.
The decade in review involved picking a select XV of Gaelic footballers from the last ten years. It proved to be a very difficult task.
Gaelic Football Team of the Decade (2010-2019)
1. Stephen Cluxton
Player of the decade. Plain and simple.
2. Philly McMahon
An ever-present in Dublin sides until this season. Marked the likes of Gooch Cooper and Aidan O’Shea out of it on All-Ireland final day.
3. Jonny Cooper
An undisputed leader who is often under-appreciated outside the confines of Dublin GAA. Namechecked by Brian Fenton earlier this week in the Irish Times as Dublin’s standard-bearer alongside Cluxton and Gavin, enough said.
4. Keith Higgins
Arguably the best cornerback of the last 20 years. Voted Young Footballer of the Year in 2006 and is still going today. A Rolls Royce of a defender who is equally adept heading up the field.
5. Lee Keegan
Mayo’s go-to man throughout the past ten years. If they need a man-marking job done, they call Keegan, and, barring this year’s All-Ireland semi-final, he has come up trumps repeatedly. Scores goals and points going forward and quite often important scores when Mayo needed them most.
6. Karl Lacey
Finished his playing career as Donegal’s most decorated footballer and finished the decade on their coaching staff. A four-time All-Star and Footballer of the Year in 2012, Donegal would not have won an All-Ireland without the services of Karl Lacey.
7. Jack McCaffrey
A swashbuckling wing-back who has provided memorable moments from the get-go. Announced his arrival with one of the goals of the year against Cork in the 2013 All-Ireland quarter-final. Most recently remembered as the man who scored 1-3 from half-back in 2019’s drawn final. With a Footballer of the Year and five All-Ireland medals squeezed in there, it’s scary to think there’s more to come.
8. Brian Fenton
Five seasons on the Dublin team has hailed five All-Ireland titles and a Footballer of the Year award. Yet to taste defeat in the Championship. He is en route to becoming one of the greatest midfielders ever.
9. Aidan O’Shea
The heartbeat of what is recognised as one of the great Mayo sides and indeed one of the great Gaelic football sides. Has wreaked havoc all over the field and even done his stint at full-back. Around the midfield though, O’Shea is a horse of a player who always leaves it out there when playing for Mayo.
10. Ciarán Kilkenny
The epitome of a modern-day half-forward. The decade started with wing-forwards being known more for their defensive work. Kilkenny has combined that with a red-hot scoring streak that saw him finish 2018 as the highest scorer from play. Dublin’s Mr Reliable.
11. Alan Brogan
One of the best ever. Finished his career on a high with three All-Ireland titles after years of hurt with Dublin. A free-scoring forward who became the game’s best playmaker. 2011 Footballer of the Year and all-round icon.
12. Diarmuid Connolly
The most talented player of his generation. An enigma who attracted headlines, sometimes for the wrong reasons. Despite missing 2018 and most of 2017, it’s impossible to talk about this decade and not have Diarmuid Connolly at the forefront of your mind.
13. Andy Moran
A Footballer of the Year winner at 33. Like a fine wine, Moran seemed to get better with age. Central to the colour and excitement that Mayo provided over the previous 10 years.
14. Michael Murphy
The beating heart of a Donegal side that was transformed from underachievers to the most successful side in Ulster. Captained them to Sam Maguire at just 22 years old after scoring one of the great All-Ireland final goals. Still one of the country’s finest.
15. Bernard Brogan
Like his brother (and father before them), will go down as an icon of Dublin GAA. His performances in 2010 saw him out on his own as Footballer of the Year. Incredible to think that all his success with Dublin followed that individual honour. The 2013 final will always be remembered as the Bernard Brogan final.