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A breakdown of the greatest hotshots

NIALL Gartland took time to delve into the world of the sharpshooter and here are his findings…

1 Cillian O’Connor
(30-337 – 427 points)
Cillian O’Connor sometimes gets labelled with the ‘overrated’ tag, but whatever way you look at it, it’s remarkable that he tops the all-time scoring list in the history of the All-Ireland Championship. Not only that, but his scoring average of just over seven points a game is the highest on this list. The Mayo forward is known for his reliability from frees, but he’s also a dab hand from play. He scored an excellent equalising point in the 2016 All-Ireland final against Dublin, and has also scored a mountain of goals in his career, bagging four majors in the 2020 All-Ireland semi-final against a shell-shocked Tipperary. He scored an incredible 4-9 in total that day, and he’d be further ahead on this list only he was injured last year.

2 Colm Cooper
(23-282: 352 points)
Ah the Gooch, what a bloody player. Here’s a remarkable statistic for you – Cooper only hit two wides in the 2005 championship, which is proof alone of his accuracy in front of the posts. He had an incredible career for Kerry, and it’s surprising that he never managed to win a Footballer of the Year award for his troubles. He had many great days out, running riot in All-Ireland finals in 2004 and 2006, as well as reinventing himself as a play-maker supreme later on in his career.

3 Mikey Sheehy
(29-205 – 292 points)

Sheehy may have been overtaken on this list by his compatriot Colm Cooper, but he’s still regarded as one of the most breathtakingly brilliant forwards of all time. We’ve all seen the footage of his audacious chip against Dublin in the All-Ireland final in 1978, and by the time he called it a day, he’d won eight All-Ireland medals, 11 Munster medals, three National League titles and seven All-Stars. Tyrone fans will also recall that he scored a cracking goal in the ’86 decider, hitting it low and hard into the corner.

4 Dean Rock
(11-252: 285)
Son of Dublin great Barney Rock, Dean Rock didn’t immediately stand out as potentially one of the greatest players of his generation. But over the course of a decade playing for the Dubs, he established himself as one of the most accurate forwards in Ireland. His free-taking has always been exemplary, kicking the winner in the 2017 All-Ireland final most memorably, despite some interference from Lee Keegan and a GPS Tracker. Excellent at coming round on the loop and hitting points from play as well.

5 Johnny Doyle
(8-260: 284 points)
A bona fide Kildare legend, it may still surprise some people out there that Johnny Doyle is fifth on the all-time scorers list. He was an excellent forward with an array of attacking skills, but possibly his best trait of all was his consistency as he rarely produced an under-par display for the Lilywhites. Lined out for his county at senior level between 1999 and 2014 and his form never really dipped even in the twilight of his career. A likeable fella to boot.

6 Conor McManus
(9-245: 272 points)
What a career Conor McManus has had for Monaghan, and he isn’t finished yet as he’s committed for another season. Not only is he a great point-taker, but he’s a taker of great points – remember when he kicked a remarkable insurance point against Tyrone in Healy Park back in the 2018 Ulster Championship (words alone don’t really do it justice but it was a tricky angle, he was under pressure, and he was way out the pitch). He’s a brilliant free-taker as well, and it’s a rare day indeed when he’s kept quiet by opposition defenders. Integral to Monaghan’s success over the last decade.

7 Padraic Joyce
(12-229: 265 points)
The stylish attacker won the admiration of GAA fans across Ireland during a glittering career with Galway. He pocketed an All-Ireland medal early in his career, scoring a goal against Kildare in the 1998 final. But his defining performance came a few years later against Meath in the All-Ireland final, helping to slay the Royals with a 10-point contribution. What people forget is that he had a quiet first half, missing a few chances, but he sprang to life after the break and Meath had no answer. Continued to shine in an intercounty career spanning the years 1997 to 2012.

8 Bernard Brogan
(21-197: 260 points)
Brogan spent most of his final years in a Dublin jersey watching on from the subs’ bench, but when he was a nailed-on starter, he was renowned for his scoring ability above all else. He was a bit of a late bloomer, relatively speaking, but won the Footballer of the Year award in 2010 even though Dublin bowed out at the semi-final stages with Cork. Had some great battles with the likes of Marc O’Se over the years, and the Kerry man himself has admitted that Brogan got the better of him in that famous All-Ireland semi-final back in 2013.

9 Paddy Bradley
(17-202: 253 points)
Just the secod representative from Ulster, which says a lot about just how good Bradley was as a footballer. Major success eluded him in the county jersey, but he scored an awesome 2-44 during the 2004 championship to cite just one example of his scoring prowess. He also won an All-Star the very same year. Bradley was incredibly strong in possession, had great vision and movement, and could pretty much score from anywhere. A special player.

10 Steven McDonnell
(18-197: 251 points).
‘Stevie from Killeavy’ had an exceptional Armagh career right from the start. Kicked the winning point in the All-Ireland final against Kerry in 2002, and had possibly his finest ever season the following season. Even the tenacious Tyrone defence struggled to get the better of him as he scored two phenomenal points in the first half. McDonnell also had a keen eye for goal and got the decisive score in the 2008 Ulster final replay against Fermanagh. Also did brilliantly on the many occasions he represented Ireland in the International Rules series.

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