The provincial series has ended for another year and with that, it’s time to reflect on what was a strange provincial season overall.
As expected, Kerry and Dublin picked up their seventh and ninth provincial crowns in a row. Dublin’s was as challenging (not very) as ever while Cork left us all with a huge smile on our faces Saturday night simply because they put it up to Kerry.
Roscommon picked up a second Connacht title in three years, however, they had to do it the hard way, overcoming both Mayo and Galway away from home.
Meanwhile, up north, fans were treated to best Ulster Championship this decade with fast-flowing, hard-hitting, nail-biting football that ended with Donegal’s win over Cavan on Sunday.
To mark the end of the 2019 provincial series we’ve compiled a list of our All-Star winners based on this year’s competitions.
1. Shaun Patton (Donegal)
The Donegal netminder was been in excellent form all season. Can go long and short to great effect.
Against Tyrone, Donegal retained 90% of their own kick-outs largely due to Patton. He also made a number of key saves against the Red Hands. Has tough competition for this spot from the likes of Darren O’Malley and Raymond Galligan but Patton just about gets the nod from us.
2. Tom O’Sullivan (Kerry)
Finished the Munster final with 1-1 from corner-back and could have had another couple. Has shown he can easily play wing-back but Kerry need him in the corner.
Has been excellent this season and looks set to be a mainstay in the side.
3. Cian O’Sullivan (Dublin)
While Dublin haven’t exactly set the world alight so far this year, they are still winning games by an average of +10 points.
O’Sullivan may have passed 30 at this stage but he’s still a Rolls Royce of a defender who only seems to be getting better with age. Has steadied the Dublin ship defensively a few times this season and has also managed to break forward on occasion.
Harsh on Meath full-back, Conor McGill, but the selection committee had a call to make.
4. Conor Moynagh (Cavan)
If there was an award for the ability to score with the outside of the boot, Moynagh would be a shoo-in every time.
One of the standout leaders for Cavan who qualified for a first Ulster final in 18 years. Playing as an extremely effective sweeper who can not only break up attacks but can go forward and kick scores. Kicked 0-3 over two pulsating encounters with Armagh and backed it up with another in Sunday’s final.
5. Niall Daly (Roscommon)
Tough as nails.
Man of the match in the Connacht final. Defended like his life depended on it and got forward to kick a great score. An absolute animal of a footballer but to be honest it could easily be him or one of his two brothers in this team. In fact, it could be one of the brothers we’re talking about right now.
They’re all savages!
6. Killian Clarke (Cavan)
Rock solid for Cavan. Can play the role of a sweeping centre-back to great effect but can also curtail the influence of a top quality forward as he did with Rian O’Neill in the Ulster semi-final replay.
Has even got forward to kick scores for Cavan.
7. Ryan McHugh (Donegal)
The country’s top wing-back? Possibly!
Electrifying pace, can defend and attack and has a football IQ as high as anybody in Ireland. The McHugh family has produced some ballers!
8. Bryan Menton (Meath)
A day to forget for Meath yesterday but big Menton did get them off the races, albeit it took 32 minutes for them to score.
The midfielder has been in impressive form throughout for Meath. Scored 2-1 against Laois in Croke Park and was in colossal form against Carlow. Very much worthy of a PA Provincial All-Star.
9. Gearoid McKiernan (Cavan)
Would Cavan have got to an Ulster final without Gearoid McKiernan? For what it’s worth we don’t think so.
Has kicked points of both feet as well as from free kicks and open play. A huge presence for Cavan around the middle sector and a real driving force for them going forward.
One of Ireland’s most difficult players to dispossess, freakishly strong on the ball.
10. Dara McVeety (Cavan)
The most battered and bruised man in all of Ulster. McVeety was in tantalising form all year for Cavan. Kicked 0-4 from play in the second half against Armagh on a day where Cavan might not have gotten over the line without him.
Really starting to come into his own as an inter-county star and it’s great to see.
11. Michael Murphy (Donegal)
Is central to everything successful about Donegal and has been for the last decade, the county’s most successful decade ever.
12. Ruairi Deane (Cork)
Tore Limerick to shreds in the Munster semi-final scoring a peach of a goal as well as assisting another.
Was Cork’s best player in the Munster final which is a huge compliment considering that Cork have been lauded for how they put it up to Kerry.
Deane’s languid style of play (he almost looks disinterested) makes him a really unique player to watch.
13. Paul Mannion (Dublin)
In an era where Dublin look virtually untouchable, Paul Mannion has become their most valuable forward, Says it all really.
14. Conor Cox (Roscommon)
Awesome against Mayo, awesome again against Galway. Cox has been a revelation for Roscommon and justifiably makes our team of the provincial series.
Has been described by many as an inspirational kind of player. Is there a higher compliment?
15. Jamie Brennan (Donegal)
Scored 0-4 against Fermanagh, was Donegal’s best player. Scored 1-3 against Tyrone, was Donegal’s best player. Scored 1-4 against Cavan, was Donegal’s best player.
Donegal have performed better than any team this season to date and Jamie Brennan has performed better than any Donegal player.
Jamie Brennan is Pundit Arena’s Provincial Player of the Year for 2019.