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Karl O'Kane

Thirteen Ulster men make All Stars nomination list as Kerry lead way once again

A whopping 11 counties are represented in this year’s PwC GAA/GPA All Star football nominations.

All-Ireland champions Kerry lead the way with 12 nominations, including all six defenders in a season where they conceded just three goals in 16 games and only one in five Championship ties.

Jason Foley, Tadhg Morley, Graham O’Sullivan, Tom O’Sullivan, Gavin White and Brian Ó Beaglaoich all got the nod from the selectors.

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The only Kerry regulars to miss out on a nomination were Diarmuid O’Connor and Paul Geaney, while David Moran wasn’t nominated either.

All-Ireland finalists Galway had the second highest number of nominations with eight, including both midfielders - Paul Conroy and Cillian McDaid.

The other Tribe men to make the list were defenders Sean Kelly, Liam Silke and John Daly, and forwards Shane Walsh, Damien Comer and Robert Finnerty.

Derry were next with seven nominees their reward for a first Ulster title victory since 1998, one more than the other beaten All-Ireland semi-finalists Dublin, who have six.

Derry celebrate their Ulster Final victory over Donegal. Rory Gallagher's men now face Clare in the All-Ireland quarter-final. (©INPHO/Ryan Byrne)

Dublin’s Cormac Costello and Eoin Murchan were notable omissions as Evan Comerford, James McCarthy, Lee Gannon, Brian Fenton, Con O’Callaghan and Ciaran Kilkenny were all nominated.

Defender Gannon is also nominated for Young Footballer of the Year in what was a stand out debut season.

David Clifford will go up against Galway duo Cillian McDaid and Shane Walsh for the PwC GAA/GPA Footballer of the Year award.

Clifford (23) is the favourite to land the highest individual accolade in the game for the first time after a stellar season in which he claimed his first senior All-Ireland medal.

But the Fossa sensation faces stiff competition from McDaid, who shot four points from midfield in the All-Ireland decider and Walsh, who fired nine points in a real final tour de force.

Among those who missed out on a nomination were Derry’s Chrissy McKaigue and Kerry’s Sean O’Shea.

The GPA’s inter-county membership will vote for the winner, which will be revealed at a gala banquet at the end of October.

The Young Footballer of the Year award promises to be a close affair and will be contested between Derry’s Ethan Doherty, Dublin’s Gannon and Galway’s Jack Glynn,

The All Star goalkeeper position appears to be a straight shootout between Armagh’s Ethan Rafferty and Kerry’s Shane Ryan.

All-Ireland quarter-finalists Armagh gained five nominations in total with three of them up front: Stefan Campbell, Rian O’Neill and Ruairi Grugan.

The others were wing back Jarlath Og Burns and goalkeeper Rafferty.

Campbell was unfortunate to miss out on a nomination in 2014 when Armagh made the All-Ireland quarter-finals, while Grugan earns his first and O’Neill backs it up after making last year’s list.

Armagh’s Rian O'Neill in action against Donegal (©INPHO/James Crombie)

The other counties honoured were Cork (2), Limerick (1), Mayo (1), Monaghan (1), Kildare (1) and Clare (1).

Cork sweeper Sean Powter got the nod for strong showings against Kerry in the Munster Championship, the qualifier win over Limerick and in the All-Ireland quarter-final defeat by Dublin.

Stephen Sherlock was the other Rebel rewarded after hitting 0-25 in four Championship games.

Limerick have a nominee for the second time in three years, with wing back Cian Sheehan getting the nod after Iain Corbett made the list in 2020.

Sheehan was prominent in the Championship wins over Clare and Tipperary, and hit three points from play as Limerick went down to a heavy defeat in the Munster final against Kerry.

His nomination comes off the back of Limerick winning promotion to Division 2.

The wing back is just the seventh Limerick footballer to be nominated since the turn of the millennium.

He follows in the footsteps of John Quane, Muiris Gavin, John Galvin, Conor Mullane, Johnny McCarthy and Corbett.

Mayo’s sole representative is Lee Keegan, who enjoyed yet another top drawer campaign as his county exited both the Connacht Championship and All-Ireland race at the quarter final stage.

Clare’s advance to the All-Ireland quarter-finals is marked by Eoin Cleary’s second successive nomination.

Cleary was their best performer as they crashed out to Derry, scoring 1-5, including 1-3 from play of the Banner’s 2-8.

Kildare’s Ben McCormack earned his first nomination after a season to remember.

McCormack has turned himself into a workhorse and playmaker at number 11 having started out as an inside forward, but has kept his scoring touch.

In the Leinster Championship McCormack hit four points from play against Louth, five from play in the win over Westmeath and five points (four from play and a mark) against Dublin in the provincial decider.

Monaghan’s sole nominee is Jack McCarron who hit 2-5, including 1-3 from play and the winning score, which relegated Dublin.

Monaghan's Jack McCarron comes under pressure from Derry's Chrissy McKaigue and Niall Loughlin during the Ulster SFC semi-final at the Athletic Grounds. (©INPHO/John McVitty)

His form wasn’t as red hot against Derry and Mayo, but he was man of the match in the Ulster Championship win over Down with a seven point haul, including four from play and a mark.

Derry’s Shane McGuigan, the second top scorer in the Championship with 2-25 from five games was nominated alongside team mate, Ethan Doherty.

The nature of football’s changing tides means that just 12 players nominated last year made the 45-strong shortlist this time around.

They were Keegan, Ó Beaglaoich, White, Tom O’Sullivan, Fenton, Rian O’Neill, Cleary, the two Cliffords, McCarron, Sean O’Shea, Shane Walsh and Kilkenny.

Only five of last year’s All Star team received nominations this year - the two Cliffords, Tom O’Sullivan, Kilkenny and Keegan.

For the first time in the 51 year history of the scheme, half the counties weren’t included.

Only players from Division 1 and 2 sides at the end of this year’s league were eligible.

The 16 counties were Kerry, Mayo, Dublin, Kildare, Donegal, Monaghan, Galway, Armagh, Tyrone, Roscommon, Derry, Clare, Louth, Limerick, Meath, Cork.

Players who took part in the Tailteann Cup are to be considered for their own All Star awards scheme.

The selection committe have the freedom to move players between defence, midfield and attack.

This year’s All-Star banquet will take place on October 28 at Dublin’s Convention Centre.

GOALKEEPER: Ethan Rafferty (Armagh), Evan Comerford (Dublin), Shane Ryan (Kerry)

DEFENDERS: Jason Foley, Tadhg Morley, Graham O’Sullivan, Tom O’Sullivan, Gavin White, Brian O Beaglaoich (all Kerry), John Daly, Sean Kelly, Liam Silke (all Galway), Chrissy McKaigue, Brendan Rogers, Conor McCluskey (all Derry), Lee Gannon, James McCarthy (both Dublin), Jarlath Og Burns (Armagh), Cian Sheehan (Limerick), Sean Powter (Cork), Lee Keegan (Mayo).

MIDFIELDERS: Cillian McDaid, Paul Conory (both Galway), Jack Barry (Kerry), Conor Glass, Gareth McKinless (both Derry), Brian Fenton (Dublin).

FORWARDS: Paudie Clifford, David Clifford, Stephen O’Brien, Sean O’Shea (all Kerry), Shane Walsh, Damien Comer, Robert Finnerty (all Galway), Rian O’Neill, Stefan Campbell, Ruairi Grugan (all Armagh), Ciaran Kilkenny, Con O’Callaghan (both Dublin), Shane McGuigan, Ethan Doherty (both Derry), Eoin Cleary (Clare), Ben McCormack (Kildare), Stephen Sherlock (Cork), Jack McCarron (Monaghan).


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