For the first time in the history of the PwC All-Stars, there are four candidates for the footballer of the year including two goalkeepers, David Clarke and Stephen Cluxton, writes John Fogarty.
The Mayo and Dublin men have been shortlisted along with James McCarthy and Andy Moran for the award, which will be announced on Friday, November 3. Cluxton was a nominee along with Darran O’Sullivan in 2011 when Alan Brogan was selected. Clarke was All Star goalkeeper last year and Moran won his only All Star award in 2011.
Only one goalkeeper can be selected for the All Stars team meaning this will be the first time that a footballer of the year candidate will lose out on one of the 15 awards. Since 2011, journalists have chosen the nominees for the individual awards with inter-county footballers selecting the winner.
Only two of the Dublin team that started last Sunday’s All-Ireland final win over Mayo are omitted from the nominees – Paddy Andrews and Eoghan O’Gara.
Their entire defensive unit is selected. Cruciate victim and 2015 footballer of the year Jack McCaffrey, Cluxton and McCarthy are joined by Jonny Cooper, Michael Fitzsimons, Philly McMahon, Cian O’Sullivan, John Small, Brian Fenton, Ciarán Kilkenny, Con O’Callaghan, Dean Rock and Paul Mannion. O’Callaghan is favourite to scoop the young footballer of the year gong where he will compete against Cork’s prodigious Seán Powter and Galway starlet Michael Daly.
As well as having picked up a third consecutive All-Ireland title last weekend, McMahon, Fenton and Kilkenny are aiming for their third All-Star awards in a row.
Cluxton is in the mix for his sixth All-Star, his first since 2013.
Just three of the Mayo team that began against Dublin four days ago fail to make the 45 – Patrick Durcan, Seamus O’Shea and Donal Vaughan. Clarke and Moran have been honoured as well as Chris Barrett, Brendan Harrison, Keith Higgins, Colm Boyle, Lee Keegan, Tom Parsons, Kevin McLoughlin, Aidan O’Shea, Jason Doherty and Cillian O’Connor.
Boyle was a three-time All-Star recipient last year as Higgins was in ’14. Aidan O’Shea claimed All-Stars in 2013 and ’14, O’Connor his first in ’15 and Harrison in ’16.
Munster champions Kerry are represented by 2014 All-Star Paul Murphy, first-time nominee Tadhg Morley, Paul Geaney (’16), Kieran Donaghy (’06, ’08 and ’14) and James O’Donoghue (’13 and ’14).
It is one more than their total last year when they also reached the All-Ireland semi-final stage.
Ulster winners Tyrone have six nominations – goalkeeper Niall Morgan, Pádraig Hampsey, Tiernan McCann in defence, Colm Cavanagh in midfield and among the 18 forwards are Peter Harte and Niall Sludden.
Ten counties have All-Star nominations, two more than last year.
Conor Devanney and Enda Smith are Roscommon’s pair, Kildare have a couple in midfielder Kevin Feeley and forward Daniel Flynn as do Ulster runners-up Down in the shape of Caolan Mooney and Connaire Harrison.
Armagh and Donegal have selections in attack with Jamie Clarke and Paddy McBrearty respectively while Monaghan’s Fintan Kelly, who scored a goal in three consecutive championship games this summer, is a nominee in defence.
The football team as well as the footballer and young footballer of the year award winners will be revealed on the night of the awards gala.
The All-Star breakdown ...
The nominations for the 2017 PwC Football All-Stars have been announced. https://t.co/t4V32iKcOI— The GAA (@officialgaa) September 21, 2017
David Clarke (Mayo); Stephen Cluxton (Dublin); Niall Morgan (Tyrone).
Caolan Mooney (Down); Jonny Cooper, Michael Fitzsimons, Jack McCaffrey, Philly McMahon, Cian O’Sullivan, John Small (Dublin); Tadhg Morley, Paul Murphy (Kerry); Chris Barrett, Colm Boyle, Brendan Harrison, Keith Higgins, Lee Keegan (Mayo); Fintan Kelly (Monaghan); Conor Devanney (Roscommon); Pádraig Hampsey, Tiernan McCann (Tyrone).
Brian Fenton, James McCarthy (Dublin); Kevin Feely (Kildare); Tom Parsons (Mayo); Enda Smith (Roscommon); Colm Cavanagh (Tyrone).
Jamie Clarke (Armagh); Paddy McBrearty (Donegal); Connaire Harrison (Down); Ciarán Kilkenny, Paul Mannion, Con O’Callaghan, Dean Rock (Dublin); Kieran Donaghy, Paul Geaney, James O’Donoghue (Kerry); Daniel Flynn (Kildare); Jason Doherty, Kevin McLoughlin, Andy Moran, Cillian O’Connor, Aidan O’Shea (Mayo); Peter Harte, Niall Sludden (Tyrone).
Footballer of the Year nominees:
David Clarke (Mayo); Stephen Cluxton (Dublin); James McCarthy (Dublin); Andy Moran (Mayo).
Young footballer of the year nominees:
Michael Daly (Galway); Con O’Callaghan (Dublin); Seán Powter (Cork).
Dublin 13; Mayo 12; Tyrone 6; Kerry 5; Down 2; Kildare 2; Roscommon 2; Armagh 1, Donegal 1, Monaghan 1.