Following the hurling selection a few weeks back, the GAA people at Pundit Arena decided to put together a selection of the top 25 footballers in Ireland.
The PA Hurling Power Rankings were heavily criticised on social media, not that it bothered us in any way. A team winning an All-Ireland can often be a collective effort as opposed to individual brilliance and this may also be reflected in the football selection. Here is who we at Pundit Arena believe are the best INDIVIDUAL footballers in Ireland at the moment, following the 2014 season.
As stated in the hurling, this is being judged by the 2014 championship. So before everyone throws the toys out of the pram, Colm Cooper was not considered for selection. Of course the selection will divide opinion. It is dominated by the bigger counties but there is a reason as to why they are the best teams in Ireland.
25. Gary Brennan (Clare)
This is probably the most obscure selection of the lot but the Clare footballer would make almost every senior team in the country. He is an excellent midfielder and possesses ball winning and football skills that would match any midfielder.
The fact that he plays with a small county leads to very little recognition but Brennan is right up there with the very best.
24. Donal Keoghan (Meath)
The Meath defender is one of the finest corner-backs playing the game. Despite being part of a Meath side that has made little impact on the championship, he has still managed to stand out in almost every game he has played.
He is a very good defender and carries out his main defensive duties very well on a consistent basis.
23. Paul Murphy (Kerry)
The Kerry man was the best newcomer of the 2014 championship and at this very moment in time deserves a place in the selection. He had what many described as an almost impossible task of replacing Tomás Ó’Sé but he filled his boots to the best of his ability and did an excellent job.
He excelled at man-marking jobs on many players and also provided many attacking options for the Kerry side. He enjoyed an excellent debut season and will be looking to replicate that in 2015
22. Stephen Cluxton (Dublin)
His impact on this year’s championship was not as heavy as usual and some might say that Monaghan’s Rory Beggan moved ahead of him in the goalkeeping position, but Cluxton remains the best overall goalkeeper in Ireland.
His kick-outs are simply incredible and are essential to creating a platform for Dublin. Despite a few hiccups this year, his shot stopping is still very good and he would be number one for any team.
21. Peter Harte (Tyrone)
The Tyrone centre-back missed a lot of the championship through injury and there is no doubt that this had an impact in Tyrone making an earlier exit than usual. He is an excellent player in both a defending and attacking sense.
He marshals the middle of the defence very well and also attacks very efficiently. He is a very good footballer.
20. Conor McManus (Monaghan)
The Monaghan marksman took what could be described as a few backward steps in 2014 following an outstanding 2013 but he does remain as one of the best forwards in the country.
He is almost the soccer equivalent of a ‘lone striker’ in the way he leads the line up front on his own at times. He can win his own ball and provide scores which is the primary role of any good inside forward.
19. Eamon McGee (Donegal)
The two McGees are both outstanding defenders. While any Donegal defender gets a lot of support as part of Donegal’s ultra-defensive system, Eamon McGee continues to stand out as a top class defender. He is a very aggressive player who lives on the edge but more often than not he gets the better of his opponent.
18. David Moran (Kerry)
Moran has finally put himself on a footballing pedestal after a horrendous battle with injury for the last five years or so. He had previously failed put a run of games together but finally managed to do so in 2014 and ended up with an All-Ireland medal and an all-star award.
He is a big presence around the middle but his skill levels are his main attributes. His long range kicking is exceptional and this was reflected in his delivery to Kieran Donaghy for James O’Donoghue’s goal in the drawn game with Mayo.
17. Colm O’Neill (Cork)
The Cork forward has been plagued by injuries throughout his relatively short career so far. He has had to undergo three anterior cruciate ligament tears resulting in three operations and even more months of rehab but he has come back strongly from each setback.
O’Neill is an excellent footballer, has a great scoring record and is capable of getting both straight forward and spectacular scores.
16. Dessie Mone (Monaghan)
The wing-back is a fine footballer who is always heavily involved in Monaghan’s games. A noticeable player, Mone gets a lot of possession and always seems to contribute positively.
Monaghan have been an improving side over the last few years and Mone has been a big part of that drive forward.
15. Michael Daragh MacAuley (Dublin)
MDMA still remains a very effective footballer. He is the prime example of a manufactured player, i.e an incredible athlete turned into a footballer.
His skill levels are still questionable but he has improved his kicking 200% over the last few years. He is strong, wins a lot of ball and has blistering pace. A real handful for any opponent and is a valuable part of Dublin’s side.
Sean Cremin, Pundit Arena.