The PA Gaelic Football Power Rankings have finally reached the business end of the countdown. Who will come out on top and be crowned Ireland’s best footballer?
5. Aidan O’Shea (Mayo)
If it wasn’t for Aidan O’Shea this year, Mayo could have been beaten by Cork and fulfilled their ‘bottlers’ tag once again for the full winter.
If it wasn’t for O’Shea Mayo would not have gotten anywhere near a draw against Kerry in Croke Park.
And finally, if Aidan O’Shea had not received a concussion in the replay with Kerry, they may have won the game, qualified for the final and finally ended years of heartbreak.
Aidan O’Shea is a class act. His performance against Donegal in the 2013 All-Ireland quarter-final was one of the best individual performances ever seen. Consistency has been a bit of a problem but a move to centre-forward this year saw O’Shea look right at home. He is great physical player and a very skilful footballer.
He may be the spearhead of the Mayo attack going forward.
4. Michael Murphy (Donegal)
If there’s anything Michael Murphy could be a victim o, it’s his versatility. If played in one position Murphy could build an even better reputation that could put him further up the list but the other players ahead of him are more prominent in games due to their situ in one spot.
Murphy is a complete footballer. He has all the attributes but this results in him being moved around numerous positions within a game. Murphy tends to wear fourteen but spends as much time at midfield as he does at full-forward. If he was left at full-forward he could easily rack up insanely high scoring tallies on a regular basis.
But his quality and versatility lead to him moving away from goal very frequently to use his ball winning and creativity further out the field. Nonetheless he is a top class player who has everything in his locker.
3. Diarmuid Connolly (Dublin)
Potential was never the question for Diarmuid Connolly but consistency of performance was. When he began his Dublin career he was in and out of the team and failed to establish a starting position. A 0-7 point haul against Tyrone in 2011 was a first indication of his ability to be one of the best and he has kicked on from there.
Over the last two seasons Diarmuid Connolly has really demonstrated his ability as one of the best footballers in the country. He was head and shoulders above any other player in the 2014 All-Ireland club final and he has brought this form to the table regularly on the intercounty scene.
He is an excellent athlete who glides when carrying the ball. His creativity and scoring ability is as good as anybody playing the game.
2. James O’Donoghue (Kerry)
James O’Donoghue has now had three full seasons as a senior intercounty footballer and he is definitely the best inside forward playing the game at the moment. The men who get the scores are the most important in winning games for any team and O’Donoghue has been excellent on that front for Kerry.
He is the type of player who torments defences. His pace and movement keeps any defender on their toes and his finishing is second to none. At the business end of the season he also showed great footballing intelligence as teams started to pinpoint him as Kerry’s main threat.
His battle with Keith Higgins was great viewing. While it looked like Higggins may have got the better of O’Donoghue he still managed to finish both All-Ireland semi-finals with 1-3 and 2-6. The rest of his performances speak for themselves and he would be the first name on many teams sheets.
1. Paul Flynn (Dublin)
The Dublin man is the most complete footballer in the country at this moment in time. The difference between Paul Flynn and others is that he could play anywhere on the field and still carry out his skill set to the highest quality.
As a half-forward, he is exceptional. He can win his own ball from primary possession and from breaks. His work rate around the middle third is excellent as he always makes himself available to win or receive possession. His creativity is excellent and he has also added more of a scoring threat over the last season or two.
Flynn has everything and he is the type of player that could easily move to midfield or half-back and still carry out his attributes to a very high standard. Four all-stars in a row can be deceiving in some cases but not in the case of Flynn.
Each one of his accolades has been fully deserved and due to his quality and the extra bit of versatility that he has on others, he tops the pile as the best footballer in Ireland at the moment.
So off ye go, criticise away as ye please. Before the ‘biased Dub’ phrase gets mentioned, this was written by somebody who is not from Dublin and actually has a rather strong disliking for the Dubs.
Is there a lack of Kerry players? This writer believes that Kerry won an All-Ireland down to a collective effort more so than individual brilliance hence why they may not have as many players on the list as people feel they should as All-Ireland champions.
This was a look at individual players. A lot of 2014 performances were taken into account as current form usually dictates where players go. And lastly, Colm Cooper was not considered as it is hard to know exactly where he is at or how he will come back after serious injury.
Feel free to comment away on the selection online, on Facebook or on Twitter.
Sean Cremin, Pundit Arena.