All-Star ballers

1 Shane Ryan (Kerry)

IN our book, Ryan has been the outstanding goalkeeper in this year’s championship. His kick-outs have been superb, he’s made some smart saves and he even scored a point from play against Derry (a controversial point, granted). A very assured goalkeeper indeed.


2 Tom O’Sullivan (Kerry)

TOM O’Sullivan missed out when the awards were handed out last year but if he gets a good final he could get the nod this time around. Not only is he a quintessentially sticky corner-back but he’s more than happy to link in with the Kerry attack. Could face stiff competition for an award from his teammate Graeme O’Sullivan (no relation).


3 Jason Foley (Kerry)

OLD-SCHOOL full-back Jason Foley is in line for a second All-Star after another excellent season in the green and gold. Foley, who attributes Paddy Tally with his improved performances in recent years, is a very steady defender and is deceptively pacey.


4 Michael Fitzsimons (Dublin)

ONE of the Dublin players bidding for a ninth All-Ireland medal, the understated Fitz may be in the twilight of his career but he’s still an assured performer. Had a memorable battle with Conor McManus in the semi-final and if he does reasonably well on David Clifford in the final, he’ll likely pocket a fourth All-Star. Derry’s Conor McCluskey is another great shout for an award.


5 Gavin White (Kerry)

KERRY’S Gavin White has overcome a knee problem to play a big part in his county’s surge to the All-Ireland final. He has pace to burn and played a big part in Kerry’s second-half comeback against Derry. An underrated player.


6 Gareth McKinless (Derry)

MCKINLESS won the BBC’s Man of the Match award for a stunning performance against Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final. He exemplified everything that was good about Derry’s adventurous showing on the day and is playing some of the best football of his career.


7 Conor McCarthy (Monaghan)

VINNEY Corey’s decision to repackage the Scotstown forward as a raiding wing-back proved to be a masterstroke. McCarthy was consistency personified in a memorable season for the Farney County, his dramatic late winner against Kildare in the All-Ireland group stages the highlight on a personal level.


8 Brendan Rogers (Derry)

ROGERS was fierce unlucky to miss out on an All-Star award last year and it seems like it would only be just if he makes the cut on this occasion. Rogers produced some big, big displays in the midfield berth this season, particularly against Armagh in the Ulster final and in their ill-fated clash against Kerry a fortnight ago. A Herculean performer.


9 James McCarthy (Dublin)

MCCARTHY is an icon of Dublin football and he has lost none of this competitive spirit despite having won eight All-Ireland medals. His swashbuckling and competitive style has been in evidence throughout their run to a first All-Ireland final since 2020. Captain of a star-studded Dublin team and you can see why.


10 Brian Fenton (Dublin)

THE midfield sector has some prime candidates for selection so it’ll be interesting to see whether the selectors find a spot somewhere for Brian Fenton, who has lost only two championship matches in a Dublin jersey. His two late points against Monaghan were absolutely crucial in quelling the spirited Farney men.


11 Sean O’Shea (Kerry)

O’SHEA has sometimes been characterised as a decent free-taker and not much more but he’s shown he has more than one string to his bow this year. His tackling alone has been key to the cause, while he’s also hit important scores from play in their Croke Park wins over Tyrone and Derry.


12 Cormac Costello (Dublin)

PERHAPS the award selectors will go for Colm Basquel, who was a revelation until a flat display against Monaghan, but our hunch is that Cormac Costello will get the nod. His six points were crucial against Monaghan and he could be in for a big final against Kerry as well.


13 Shane McGuigan (Derry)

MCGUIGAN has developed into Derry’s talisman in attack and he was simply inspirational in their Ulster final win over Armagh. The ‘attention’ visited upon him by the Kerry defence shows just what other teams make of the Sleacht Néill man’s importance, and he still weighed in with three points from play in that particular game.


14 David Clifford (Kerry)

A NO brainer this one. David Clifford is the most sensational player in the game and is having another fantastic season. If he pulls it out of the bag this Sunday en route to a Kerry victory, it’s likely he’ll be named Footballer of the Year.


15 Conor McManus (Monaghan)

CONOR McManus would be full value for an All-Star award this year. Yes, he was a sub for Monaghan’s earlier championship matches, but he’s the ultimate clutch player and produced some massive plays in their big Croke Park games against Armagh and Dublin. He’s 36 but he still has it in spades.

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