CORK may have struggled through much of the summer, but the All-Ireland champions have, nevertheless, been well rewarded for their efforts in claiming the Sam Maguire with 11 of Conor Counihan’s men nominated for Vodafone All Star awards yesterday.
Cork’s representation compares favourably to the dozen Kerry received 12 months ago and betters the 10 Tyrone were offered in 2008. Only 10 of the 45 nominated are previous All Stars, with Kerry duo Colm Cooper and Tomás O Sé the most decorated nominees, with five awards each.
One point of note: though the 2010 season was by common consent the most open in years, the 12 sides represented in the nominations is identical to last year’s number and actually one less than the 2008 campaign.
Only three of last year’s All Stars team are nominated – Michael Shields, Graham Canty and Tomás O Sé – with none of the 2009 All-Star midfield, half-forward line or full-forward line selection among this year’s nominees. This includes last year’s Player of the Year Paul Galvin.
Interestingly, Cork’s number includes both Canty and Nicholas Murphy, both of whom sat out large tracts of the summer through injury but who made major contributions down the stretch as part of Counihan’s second wave which served the team so well.
Beaten finalists Down have been handed seven of the 45 slots, which is three less than that garnered by the two previous runners-up, Cork in 2009 and Kerry the season before.
Of the four provincial champions – all of whom were defeated at All-Ireland quarter-final stage – Tyrone fare the best with four nominees, with Kerry and Meath on three each and Roscommon on two. Interestingly, all of Meath’s were awarded in the half-forward line.
Beaten Leinster and Connacht provincial finalists, Louth and Sligo respectively, were rewarded for their resurgent seasons with two nominees each.
For the Wee County, midfielder Paddy Keenan was joined by defender John O’Brien who did such an effective marking job on Bernard Brogan in the qualifiers. Sligo’s impressive but ultimately unsuccessful Connacht campaign has been recognised through the additions of captain and full-back Charlie Harrison and corner-forward David Kelly.
Munster’s defeated finalists Limerick fared less well with just one nominee, which is one less than last year when they were also beaten provincial finalists. However, it was no surprise that the nod there went to midfielder John Galvin.
Inevitably, there will be questions as to why certain individuals have been omitted and among those likely to have their champions this week will be Dublin goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton and the Sligo duo of Johnny Davey and Ross Donovan.
Goalkeepers: Alan Quirke (Cork), Brendan McVeigh (Down), Pascal McConnell (Tyrone).
Full-back line: Michael Shields (Cork), Rory O’Carroll (Dublin), Peter Kelly (Kildare), Charlie Harrison (Sligo), Philip McMahon (Dublin), Justin McMahon (Tyrone), Dan Gordon (Down), John O’Brien (Louth), Marc O Sé (Kerry).
Half-back line: Paudie Kissane (Cork), Kevin McKernan (Down), Philip Jordan (Tyrone), Emmet Bolton (Kildare), Noel O’Leary (Cork), Tomas O Sé (Kerry), Graham Canty (Cork), Joe McMahon (Tyrone), Eamon Callaghan (Kildare).
Midfield: Aidan Walsh (Cork), Paddy Keenan (Louth), Michael Darragh Macauley (Dublin), John Galvin (Limerick), Kalum King (Down), Nicholas Murphy (Cork).
Half-forwards: Paddy Kelly (Cork), Daniel Hughes (Down), Graham Reilly (Meath), Martin Clarke (Down), Joe Sheridan (Meath), John Doyle (Kildare), Paul Kerrigan (Cork), Seamus Kenny (Meath), Cathal Cregg (Roscommon).
Full-forwards: Daniel Goulding (Cork), Bernard Brogan (Dublin), Donie Shine (Roscommon), Colm Cooper (Kerry), Donncha O’Connor (Cork), David Kelly (Sligo), Benny Coulter (Down), James Kavanagh (Kildare), Padraic Joyce (Galway).
County by county breakdown: Cork (11); Down (7); Kildare (5); Tyrone (4); Dublin (4); Meath (3); Kerry (3); Louth (2); Roscommon (2); Sligo (2); Galway (1), Limerick (1).
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