PwC All Star football nominations announced as Cathal McShane matches Maurice Fitzgerald feat

By Pat Nolan

Cathal McShane has emulated Maurice Fitzgerald’s achievement in 2000 as the PwC All Star football nominations are revealed.

By earning a nomination without having started a single game in an All-Ireland winning campaign, McShane becomes the first player to do so since the Kerry great began to popularise the impact sub role 21 years ago.

In 2011, Dublin’s Kevin McManamon was nominated largely on the back of his heroics off the bench but he started the opening game against Laois that particular year.

Coincidentally, Fitzgerald was part of Kerry’s management team this year as McShane made a critical impact for Tyrone when introduced in the All-Ireland semi-final between the counties, hitting 1-3 in a one-point victory.

His second half goal against Mayo, scored with his first touch after being introduced, helped to swing the All-Ireland final in his side’s favour too.

But while players earning All Star nominations despite not being regular starters has occurred in both codes before, never before has one won an award without starting a single game and McShane will have his work cut out in that regard amid stiff competition up front.

He is one of 15 Tyrone players nominated, matching Limerick hurlers’ tally, though Michael O’Neill misses out, the only player from their starting line-up against Mayo that didn’t make the cut.

For the first time, a county has earned more than six nominations in defence as Tyrone carry off seven with Kieran McGeary and Conor Meyler joining Frank Burns, Padraig Hampsey, Peter Harte, Michael McKernan and Ronan McNamee, despite the fact that they were often listed as attackers.

However, it’s a recognition of the fact that they did their most effective work in their own half of the field as Tyrone clinched their fourth ever All-Ireland.

Tyrone’s highest number of All Stars in a single season is eight they won in 2005, while they claimed seven following each of their other two All-Ireland winning campaigns in 2003 and ‘08.

Eoin Cleary (INPHO/Ryan Byrne)

In all, there are 11 counties represented on the list of 45 with Mayo following Tyrone on eight, Kerry on seven, Dublin on five, Monaghan on three and Armagh on two while Clare, Cork, Donegal, Galway and Kildare have one each.

Having endured their first Championship defeat since 2014 this year, Dublin have their lowest number of nominations since 2010, when they had four.

With Eoin Cleary getting his first nomination, it means that Clare join Dublin as the only counties to have an All Star nominee in both codes this year.

McGeary and Meyler appear to be frontrunners for the Footballer of the Year though they are joined on the shortlist by Mayo’s Lee Keegan, who won the award in 2016.

A Tyrone player hasn’t won the Footballer of the Year award since Sean Cavanagh in 2008 though should Keegan get the nod, he would be the third Mayo winner in six seasons, with his former teammate Andy Moran also having claimed the honour in 2017.

There is Tyrone interest in the Young Footballer of the Year award (drawn from players who turn 21, or younger, this calendar year) too as Darragh Canavan is shortlisted alongside Oisin Mullin (Mayo) and Matthew Tierney (Galway) though as Canavan, like McShane, was used more in an impact sub role, he is likely the outsider among the three.

The football team will be revealed live at the All Stars banquet on Friday, December 10 while along with the various player of the year award winners.

Both the football and hurling All Star teams are chosen by panels of journalists though the player of the year awards are determined by a vote among inter-county hurlers and footballers.

2021 PwC All Star Football Nominees

Goalkeepers : Niall Morgan (Tyrone), Robert Hennelly (Mayo), Rory Beggan (Monaghan).

Defenders: Padraig Hampsey (Tyrone), Peter Harte (Tyrone), Michael McKernan (Tyrone), Frank Burns (Tyrone), Ronan McNamee (Tyrone), Kieran McGeary (Tyrone), Conor Meyler (Tyrone), Stephen Coen (Mayo), Patrick Durcan (Mayo), Lee Keegan (Mayo), Padraig O’Hora (Mayo), Brian O Beaglaoich (Kerry), Tom O’Sullivan (Kerry), Gavin White (Kerry), Michael Fitzsimons (Dublin), Brian Howard (Dublin), Sean Meehan (Cork), Ryan McAnespie (Monaghan).

Midfielders: Brian Kennedy (Tyrone), Conn Kilpatrick (Tyrone), Matthew Ruane (Mayo), David Moran (Kerry), Oisin O’Neill (Armagh), Brian Fenton (Dublin).

Forwards: Mattie Donnelly (Tyrone), Conor McKenna (Tyrone), Niall Sludden (Tyrone), Darren McCurry (Tyrone), Cathal McShane (Tyrone), Tommy Conroy (Mayo), Ryan O’Donoghue (Mayo), David Clifford (Kerry), Paudie Clifford (Kerry), Sean O’Shea (Kerry), Cormac Costello (Dublin), Ciaran Kilkenny (Dublin), Jack McCarron (Monaghan), Daniel Flynn (Kildare), Michael Langan (Donegal), Rian O’Neill (Armagh), Eoin Cleary (Clare), Shane Walsh (Galway).

PwC Footballer of the Year nominees:

Conor Meyler (Tyrone), Kieran McGeary (Tyrone), Lee Keegan (Mayo).

PwC Young Footballer of the Year nominees:

Matthew Tierney (Galway), Oisin Mullin (Mayo), Darragh Canavan (Tyrone).

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