All-Stars 2015: Virtually all the Stars are the brightest

A few days before the All-Stars are announced each year, three or four of us in the Gaelic football department here in The Jes in Galway city try and see can we second-guess the selection committee.
All-Stars 2015: Virtually all the Stars are the brightest

Some years we are miles off the selected side, which proves how wrong the selection committee can be at times. However, on Thursday we got 14 of the 15 players announced last night in the Convention Centre in Dublin, which reinforces my view that this team is, in the main, a good and fair selection.

Kerry’s Brendan Kealy fully merited his first gong between the sticks by virtue of some outstanding saves during the season. However, when the pressure is on, his kick-out strategy can become extremely erratic and that is something he needs to work on for 2016.

Rory Beggan must have had a fair few supporters too, as he was a key player in Monaghan’s second Ulster title. Beggan’s long distance free-taking should also have been worth a few votes so Kealy’s nod must have been by a short head.

There can be no complaints with five of the six defenders.

Enright, O’Carroll, McMahon, O’Sullivan and Jack McCaffrey would have been automatic choices on almost everyone’s list.

They all had very fine seasons, and the four Dublin players were outstanding in annexing the county’s third title in five years.

However, Lee Keegan’s third award is questionable.

Admittedly he is, when on form, one of the absolute best wing-backs in the game.

However, it is difficult, almost impossible, to shake the image of his woeful effort for a point when Mayo were four to the good against Dublin. He, and we, know he should have popped that over.

Had he scored that point, how would that game have finished up? On such moments, games and seasons change.

Likewise, his grabbling off the ball with both Dublin’s Diarmuid Connolly and Galway’s Michael Lundy during the championship would not have been a vote-getter for me.

Lee did score a few wonderful points during the campaign and a fortuitous goal against Donegal, however I believe that he has had better years and would question his selection this season.

James McCarthy was terrific in the Dublin half-back line and had as good a season in 2015 as he had in 2014, when he got an award. Go figure.

It is reasonable to contend that the only reason McCarthy was not selected last night is that Dublin had already received four awards in the backs and seven overall.

It would be pedantic to argue with the midfield selection of Maher and Fenton. However, Colm Cavanagh did have a tremendous year for Tyrone and he has become the mainstay of their engine room over the past few years and no doubt was given serious consideration.

That said, Fenton and Maher was the right call.

Another quick point on midfield; if Mattie Donnelly played most of his football in that position during the year, should he not have been nominated there?

Had he been nominated at midfield, and subsequently been selected there ahead of perhaps Anthony Maher, then perhaps the likes of Paddy Andrews, or Diarmuid or Cillian O’Connor, might have snuck an award up front.

That trio were a tad unlucky and Cillian’s displays in the Connacht championship and his 1-9 and man-of-the-match award against Dublin in the drawn game were among the highlights of the season.

Kerry’s Donnchadh Walsh has outstanding work-rate and his link play and selflessness for the cause over the past few years has to be admired and is a great example for youngsters, and I was glad to see him get his first award for those reasons.

Finally, the 2015 awards once again reinforce how difficult it is for players from the lesser divisions, and weaker counties, to collect an All Star.

And also about how incredfar Dublin, Kerry and Mayo have strode ahead of the pack in the past few years.

In 2013, Kerry, Dublin and Mayo had 12 awards between them, in 2014 they shared 11 awards.

This year, those three counties win 13 awards. It is not easy for any player to break into that Holy Trinity of award grabbers unless they have a superb season.

Both Kieran Martin (Westmeath) and Seán Quigley (Fermanagh) added an awful lot of colour and excitement to the 2015 championship and were a breath of fresh air to watch.

However, neither player got enough exposure or were on good enough teams to maximise their abilities and push on to get an award.

Such is the reality of sporting life.

All in all though, the 2015 All Stars are a sound reflection of the season just past and it’s standout performers, and the selection committee will feel they did a good job.

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