Over the course of the last few years both Dublin and Mayo have been to the forefront of GAA fans and pundits consciousness.
Although Mayo have yet to make the breakthrough and claim their first Sam Maguire in 66 years they have captured the hearts and minds of the nation over the last decade and a half especially the last five years over which time they have lost three All Ireland finals (2012, 2013 and 2016) by an average of two points.
The other years they lost two semi-finals, both of which went to replays and the men from the west lost out to the eventual All-Ireland champions.
Dublin for their part dominated Leinster for years without any silverware at national level, before making the breakthrough at the turn of the decade and aside from a few minor blips have stayed on top of the heap since and have broken Mayo hearts on numerous occasions.
Below we pick our combined XV from the two from the past 15 years.
Stephen Cluxton (Dublin)
A case could have been made for David Clarke especially after the way he performed when he was called upon last year after being dropped for the replay only to be introduced after Rob Hennelly’s black card.
However, realistically Cluxton was the only man in contention for this spot. He has been credited with revolutionising the position of goalkeeper, is the launchpad for many of Dublin’s attacks and is subject to much scrutinization from opposition managers.
Philly McMahon (Dublin)
Plays the game on the absolute limit of the law, occasionally straying the wrong of the line but in my opinion, this only adds to his game as every side needs an enforcer. A class act.
Rory O’Carroll ( Dublin)
He has been a reliable performer for several years, going about his business without fuss or frills. His unobtrusive style means that he hasn’t always got the credit he deserved.
He was the lynchpin for the side that made the breakthrough in 2011.
Keith Higgins (Mayo)
Higgins is one of the best all-rounders of the modern game, he is usually tasked with marking the opposition’s best forward and is no stranger to a marauding run into the other half.
One of the elder statesmen of the Mayo panel, it would be fitting if he finished up on Sunday in the winner’s enclosure.
Lee Keegan (Mayo)
His tour de force in the first Roscommon game was inspiring as he literally and figuratively dragged Mayo over the line. A four-time All-Star and the reigning GAA/GPA Player Of The Year he hasn’t reached the same heights since the drawn game with the Rossies, mostly due to an infected blister on his foot which required hospital attention.
Based on the law of averages he is due a big game on Sunday and knowing his potential, I wouldn’t bet against him to deliver.
Cian O’Sullivan (Dublin)
An oft underrated player, but there is no doubting his importance to this Dublin side, but centre-back is arguably his best position.
Along with Cluxton is another who has helped revolutionise his position by becoming less of a holding centre-back and more of a sweeper.
Colm Boyle (Mayo)
I’ve gone against the grain here and selected Boyle rather than his more celebrated Dublin counter-parts Jack McCaffery and James McCarthy.
He has been one of Mayo’s most consistent performers over the years and has been a tower of strength in championship 2017, running himself into the ground in the name of the cause.
Ciaran Whelan (Dublin)
The only Dublin player on this list not to win a Celtic Cross and perhaps one of the unluckiest Dublin players in recent times, as he made his debut in 1996 the year after Dublin won an All Ireland and hung up his boots in 2009, the year after they emerged from the wilderness.
Michael Darragh MacAuley (Dublin)
The 2013 Footballer of the Year, MDMA was integral in helping Cluxton revolutionise his kick-outs as the basketball convert brought a running game that most traditional big men, high fielding midfielders couldn’t cope with.
Paul Flynn (Dublin)
His record of four All-Ireland’s and four consecutive All Stars speak for itself.
One of the most industrious, hard-working players in the game he is perpetual motion personified.
Ciaran McDonald (Mayo)
Arguably the most talented player of this selection, he was one a joy to watch. A real flair player some of his point kicking in 2006 in particular would take your breath away.
In my opinion, he was the best long-range passer since the turn of the millennium.
Diarmuid Connolly (Dublin)
The complete footballer, equally comfortable on each foot, has pace and power can score, pass, catch and also tackle.
A cult hero on the Hill, his temperament can get the better of him, but that only adds to the fact that he is pure box office.
Bernard Brogan (Dublin)
The 2010 Football Of The Year he is the supreme poacher, for me, the highlight of his illustrious career is the 2013 All-Ireland Final.
He was man-marked by Ger Cafferkey, barely getting a sniff of the ball but somehow managed to finish up with 2-02 to his name.
Aidan O’Shea (Mayo)
O’Shea has been Mayo’s target man for the best part of a decade. While he has yet to get his hands on the elusive All-Ireland medal it will perhaps be a source of comfort (albeit minuscule in comparison to the pain of defeat) that over the past five years the team that has beaten his Mayo side has gone on to claim Sam.
Could have been pretty much anywhere from midfield up, but we have given him the number 14 shirt.
Alan Brogan (Dublin)
The St Oliver Plunketts/Eoghan Ruadh club-man claimed his third winner’s medal in his final game in a blue jersey after he retired in 2015 after a Dublin career of 14 seasons.
Brogan retired with three All-Ireland medals, eleven Leinster titles, three All Stars and the 2011 Player of the Year award where he succeeded his brother Bernard.
A few hard calls to be made, a few players can feel aggrieved to miss out and must make do with a place on the bench. David Clarke, Johnny Cooper, Donal Vaughan, Jack McCaffery, James Carthy, Kevin McManamon, Alan Dillon, Andy Moran, Eoghan O’Gara, Jason Doherty.
Read More About: aidan o se, alan brogan, bernard brogan, cian o sullivan, ciaran mc donald, ciaran whelan, colm boyle, dermot connolly, keith higgins, lee keegan, michael darragh macauley, paul flynn, philly mcmahon, rory, rory o caroll, Stephen cluxton