Shaun Casey has a go at naming an alternative All-Star football team looking back at some of the big performers from this season…
1 Shane Ryan (Kerry)
Ryan enjoyed an excellent season for Kerry and would have been picking up his second All-Star award this season but for the exploits of Dublin legend Stephen Cluxton. He held five clean sheets throughout the championship and is one of the best keepers around.
2 Eoin McEvoy (Derry)
What a breakout year for the Derry youngster, who took to the inter-county game like a duck to water and the step up in gear never seemed to faze him. His presence in the Derry full-back line completely changed their game, freeing up Brendan Rogers to go to midfield.
3 Jason Foley (Kerry)
Foley is widely regarded as the best full-back in the business and has another stellar year for the Kingdom as they reached the All-Ireland final. Had his hands full with Shane McGuigan in the semi-final but outside of that, he won every other duel.
4 Sean Kelly (Galway)
Kelly was extremely unlucky not to have picked up an All-Star award this season as he gave some outstanding displays for Galway. He played on one leg against Armagh and still the Orchard County found his roaming runs forward difficult to halt.
5 Aidan Forker (Armagh)
Has been leading the Armagh cause for well over a decade now and when the going got tough, that’s when Forker produced his best displays this season. The Maghery man was in unstoppable form, particularly against Galway and Monaghan in the latter stages of the championship.
6 Brian Howard (Dublin)
With James McCarthy and Brian Fenton nailed on All-Star winners, Howard was always going to find it tough to claim one but his performances this year shouldn’t be overlooked, particularly in the All-Ireland final when he single-handedly dominated the Dublin kick-out.
7 Karl O’Connell (Monaghan)
O’Connell couldn’t have done much more for Vinny Corey’s men this season and he played a huge role in getting Monaghan to the All-Ireland semi-final. It was perhaps a flip of the coin between himself and teammate Conor McCarthy for an All-Star, with the Tyholland man missing out.
8 Conor Glass (Derry)
His partnership with Player of the Year nominee Brendan Rogers is one of the best in the business and Glass keeps excelling at both club and county level. It’s no coincidence that Derry and Glen’s success has come off the back of his return from Australia.
9 Diarmuid O’Connor (Kerry)
O’Connor really stepped up this season in place of the retired David Moran and was one of the main players in the green and gold throughout the 2023 campaign, helping Jack O’Connor’s side get a foothold in midfield.
10 Ronan O’Toole (Westmeath)
While Westmeath didn’t reach the knockout stages of the All-Ireland series, O’Toole had a year to be proud of and caused plenty of defences serious issues as Dessie Dolan’s men were a kick of a ball away from reaching the last 12.
11 Paul Mannion (Dublin)
Of all the players on the alternative All-Star list, Mannion is perhaps the most hard done by. He was the Man of the Match in the All-Ireland final and top scored for Dessie Farrell’s side with 0-5 (0-4 from play) as the Dubs saw off old rivals Kerry.
12 Cormac Costello (Dublin)
Another Dub who put in some mighty displays throughout the 2023 campaign, Costello sacrificed his own game in the final to blot out Tom O’Sullivan’s darting runs forward but also chipped in with a point from a free.
13 Darragh Canavan (Tyrone)
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Canavan was superb for Tyrone this season and really stepped up in terms of the scoring stakes up front. Even when things were going against them in the All-Ireland quarter-final against Kerry, the Errigal Ciaran sharpshooter still enjoyed some decent spells.
14 Andrew Murnin (Armagh)
This was perhaps Murnin’s first real year without any injuries, and it told. The St Paul’s man was a joy to watch on the edge of the square for Kieran McGeeney’s Armagh but put in a lot of hard yards around the middle of the field as well. The 2009 All-Ireland winning minor enjoyed his best season in the orange and white.
15 Conor McManus (Monaghan)
There’s life in the old dog yet. Even though McManus spent a lot of time on the Monaghan subs bench, he sprang into life whenever called upon and always delivered the goods, particularly in their All-Ireland quarter-final victory over Armagh with his last-minute free earning Monaghan passage to a penalty shootout victory.