At the end of the Gaelic Football season, Sean Cremin gave the Pundit Arena football all-star selection. The nominations have since been announced and the day is drawing closer to the final fifteen being named. Here we give what we think will be the GAA GPA all-star selection for 2014.
- Paul Durcan – Donegal
No nomination for Kerry’s Brian Kelly makes me even more likely that the Donegal net-minder will receive the number-one short despite his high profile error in the All-Ireland final. Stephen Cluxton definitely did not do enough this year to receive the award and while Rory Beggan’s free taking was immaculate, he did not have a big enough influence in what was a poor season for Monaghan. So it looks certain that Durcan will be in goal.
- Paul Murphy – Kerry
The Kerry newcomer wore number five for most of the season and played most of his football at wing-back but he has been nominated for the full-back line. His performances were so good that it seems very likely that he will receive an all-star to cap off a perfect debut season and corner-back now seems his most likely position if nominations are anything to go by.
- Neil McGee – Donegal
The Donegal man and Footballer of the Year nominee appears to be a certainty for the number three jersey. He was a rock at the back for Donegal and the fact that he outscored James O’Donoghue from play in the All-Ireland final should definitely help his cause. He is the leading number three in the game at the moment and should get his individual recognition with an all-star award.
- Keith Higgins – Mayo
The Mayo man would still seem like a worthy winner of an all-star in the full-back line as he put in a number of excellent performances again this year. He was back in the corner-back position and his battles with James O’Donoghue in both All-Ireland semi-final’s were the best man-on-man contests witnessed all year. While O’Donoghue still managed to get a lot of scores, he would have scored a lot more if it was not for Higgins and he should get the number four shirt.
- Frank McGlynn – Donegal
The way the positional nominations have worked out seem to tip the vote in favour of Frank McGlynn. He had another good year in the Donegal side. Initially it would have been thought that the three wing-back positions would be divided between McGlynn, Paul Murphy and Colm Boyle but the nominations seem to suggest otherwise. McGlynn had a good year and was a big part of Donegal’s counter-attacking system.
- Peter Crowley – Kerry
The Kerry defence looked open and vulnerable on a few occasions early in the year and the introduction of Peter Crowley to centre-back appeared to do a lot to help this become less of a problem. He really tightened up the Kingdom defence and while he may not have been a permanent fixture for the full season, he definitely had a say in the destination of Sam Maguire.
- Colm Boyle – Mayo
The Mayo man had a great year and looks set to secure back-to-back all-star awards. The competition is fairly high for the half-back line with a lot of people also voicing their reasons for Dublin’s James McCarthy to be included. But Boyle was outstanding in both games against Kerry, particularly as the main part of their second-half fight-back in the drawn game. His inclusion seems likely.
- Neil Gallagher – Donegal
The Donegal man had a good season at midfield and unless the people in charge of selection decide to move Michael Murphy at to midfield, it would almost be certain that Gallagher will be the recipient of a midfield position. We did not have him in our original Pundit Arena selection but the reality is that the midfield berths will probably be divided between Kerry and Donegal.
- David Moran – Kerry
David Moran appears to be a certainty for the team at midfield. He finally had an injury free season and finally secured a permanent position in the Kerry side and his performances were very good. His point scoring in the drawn game with Mayo and his overall performance in the replay were his main highlights. He had a very good year and everybody would be shocked if he was to miss out.
10. Paul Flynn – Dublin
The half-forward line is the most competitive of all with a number of high quality candidates putting their hands up for selection. It will be interesting to see if they give one or two positions to Dublin in this line. It is hard to see Paul Flynn missing out. We left him out of the Pundit Arena selection based on Dublin’s performances. Going by individual performances there can be no argument against Flynn getting in. He is the best wing-forward in Ireland.
11. Diarmuid Connolly – Dublin
The way these selections have gone in recent times makes it hard to know if Dublin will receive a second player in the half-forward line but it is almost impossible for an all-star team to be selected for this year without Diarmuid Connolly. This means no place for Aidan O’Shea or Johnny Bucckley, but Connolly oozed class all season and should definitely get recognition.
12. Michael Murphy – Donegal
The nomination of Michael Murphy in the half-forward line obviously points to him being picked for a place in this line. While he wore fourteen on his back, he rarely played on the edge of the square and was deployed further out the field. He will get an all-star but it is one of the more questionable inclusions. He was by no means exceptional this year and the likes of Johnny Buckley, Aidan O’Shea and Ryan McHugh could count themselves unlucky, but Murphy’s profile and Donegal’s run to the final will probably see him get in.
13. Cillian O’Connor – Mayo
It should be a first time all-star for Cillian O’Connor and it will be deserved. His non-inclusion has been criticised before but he did not do enough from open play to justify inclusion on previous years but this year saw him improve a lot. He had a very good year and put in two very good displays against Kerry. He showed that he can be more than a free taker and maybe that he does have the potential to be a top class forward over the next few years.
14. Kieran Donaghy – Kerry
The Sunday Game left him out their selection on the basis that he did not play in enough games but for the influence he had in the destination of the All-Ireland title, Kieran Donaghy probably will, and should, get an all-star. The nominations certainly suggest so and his late catch against Mayo in the drawn game, followed by his full performance in the replay and then his goal in the final show how big a role he ended up playing. It may have been only two and quarter games out of six but Kerry would not have won the All-Ireland without him.
15. James O’Donoghue – Kerry
James O’Donoghue is a certainty for selection following an outstanding year. He may not have been at his best in the All-Ireland final but the role he played in getting Kerry there in the first place was vital. He scored a massive 4-24 in the championship with the majority of the tally coming from play and he also missed their first game of the championship against Clare. His pace and finishing was of the highest quality.
Footballer of the Year – James O’Donoghue
James O’Donoghue was the best footballer in Ireland this year. He scored 4-24, with 2-20 of that coming from play and he won both penalties that he converted in the replay against Mayo. He terrorised defences and also showed great intelligence when being double or tightly marked in order to link up with Kieran Donaghy. People may say he failed to perform in the All-Ireland final but it seemed to be a tactic from Eamon Fitzmaurice to sacrifice O’Donoghue for other players. Overall, he was simply outstanding this year.
Young Footballer of the Year – Ryan McHugh
The Donegal man will probably miss out on an all-star award but it does seem certain that he will be crowned the Young Footballer of the Year. He pretty much replaced to void left empty by his brother, Mark McHugh, and was constantly up and down the field and was a key part of the Donegal system. His two goals agaisnt Dublin were vital in getting Donegal to the final and he had a good year overall.
So while it may not be the same as our own selection, this is what we think will be the final GAA GPA All Star selection for 2014, going by the nominations. Some players could count themselves unlucky. Aidan O’Shea, Johnny Buckley, Anthony Maher, Marc Ó’Sé and Aidan O’Mahony are names that stand out. Five Kerry players is a relatively small number for All-Ireland champions, but anyway that is the prediction.
Feel free to comment below.
Sean Cremin, Pundit Arena.
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