Over the weekend, the great and the good of the GAA were present in the City West for the annual All-Star awards, where accolades were given out to players who excelled in their individual positions over the course of the year.
Here, we give an alternative view on the year that has just beenas we honour both individuals and teams in a slightly unconventional way.
Team Performance of the Year – Dublin (v Tyrone All-Ireland semi-final)
This Tyrone team were billed as the first side that would be able to test the Dublin juggernaut in 2017 as they were deemed to have one of the few sides with the pace, power and defensive know-how to really worry Jim Gavin’s men.
While they were definite underdogs a few pundits fancied an upset. Those pundits couldn’t have been more wrong.
When Dublin’s new kid on the block Con O’Callaghan scythed through the heart of the Red Hand’s defence to rifle the ball into the roof of the net after five minutes the game was as good as over, as despite Tyrone’s best efforts they could not lay a glove on the Dubs.
Jim Gavin and his background team worked out a strategy that nullified Tyrone’s blanket defence and counter attacking threat, while still being able to create space in the forward line to manufacture scores.
In the end Dublin completely eclipsed their opponents on a 2-17 to 0-11 score-line, in one of the most ruthlessly efficient displays Croke Park has ever seen.
Individual Performance of the Year Lee Keegan (vs Roscommon All-Ireland quarter-final, drawn game)
The 2017 year saw a host of top players give incredible performances with some of the standout ones being Joe Canning in the semi-final against Tipperary, Con O’Callaghan against Kildare, Colm Boyle against Kerry (replay) being among the most memorable ones. But the most impressive performance of the GAA year for 2017 goes to Lee Keegan for his titanic display in the drawn All-Ireland quarter-final against Roscommon.
It is hard to fully appreciate the magnitude of his efforts. With his Mayo side failing to settle into any rhythm, Roscommon raced into an early 2-02 to 0-01 lead, the writing appeared to on the wall for this campaign and this current crop of players.
However, the 2016 Player of the Year had other ideas, although he was playing full-back at stages of this game he was still able to provide a surging solo run through the Rossies defence which resulted in a somewhat lucky goal and the addition of three points which was enough to level the game and send it to a replay.
Although an infected blister meant he would miss the replay, his teammates, no doubt buoyed by his performance put their Connacht neighbours to the sword to progress to the All-Ireland semi-final v Kerry.
Goal of the Year – Austin Gleeson, v (Cork All-Ireland semi-final)
Good players are reliable to chip in with magnificent scores when their team is coasting and they feel the pressure has sufficiently eased so they can express themselves.
Great players do it when the stakes are high and the heat of battle is at its most intense. This is exactly what Austin Gleeson did in the All Ireland semi-final against Cork. The 2016 Hurler of the Year gained possession just 45 metres out from the Cork goal.
— The GAA (@officialgaa) August 14, 2017
Then with the balance and grace of Fred Astaire he waltzed through a screen of Cork defenders as if they were pensioners in a bingo hall to flick the ball past Anthony Nash.
Retirement Party of the Year – Clare Hurlers
Every year it seems like an All-Ireland winning team culls a crop of players.
In the winter of 2016/17 a host of former All-Stars and Celtic Cross winners either retired permanently or opted out of the Donegal team for the year.
This year it is the turn of the Clare hurlers.
Of the team that won the 2013 All-Ireland title, Patrick Donnellan, Brendan Bugler, Colin Ryan and Darach Honan have hung up their hurls in the past month and if the current trend is anything to go by there’ll be a few more big Banner names to exit the stage left in the near future.
The guts without glory award – Carlow
As mentioned above Carlow laid out a road map for how to set up against Dublin.
While they were eventually beaten by twelve points (this could have been closer only for some wayward shooting and Brendan Murphy’s second-half dismissal) they enjoyed a lot of possession and were within three points of the Dubs at half-time.
It was only the second time Dublin failed to find the back of the net in Leinster since Jim Gavin took charge in 2013.
Although the game might be remembered more for Diarmuid Connolly’s ‘incident’ with one of the linesmen, it was a performance that Carlow can be proud of and one which Leinster teams (and most of the rest of country) should look to emulate if they want to avoid 30-plus point hammerings.
Biggest Disappointment – Monaghan Footballers
Every year Monaghan are tipped to make a breakthrough and every year without fail they flatter to deceive and Championship 2017 was no different.
They fell to a shock defeat to Down in Ulster, struggled past Carlow in the qualifiers, gained some kind of vengeance on Down before falling flat on their face against a Dublin outfit that never had to go beyond third gear.
Michael Keaveny, Pundit Arena
Check out the latest episode of The 16th Man where we speak with Wexford camogie star Mags D’Arcy and discuss the latest club GAA action.