Shining lights of 2023

Teams of the Year are always up for debate with those that are close to selection. Michael McMullan makes his stab at it.

1 – Shane Ryan


BEATEN by a deflected goal in the final, but had another solid season between the posts.

Make the game-winning save against Derry in the semi-final and kicked a fine score in a game of fine margins.

His display against Mayo was simply awesome, preventing Kerry from taking a tanking.


2 – Graham O’Sullivan


ANOTHER sail in Kerry’s steady defensive ship and gets forward to stretch teams on the attack.

He pulled Tyrone out of shape in the quarter-final and put in a strong performance against Derry in the last four.


3 – Michael Fitzsimons


CAME to party late after an early season dominated by exams and study. But it was worth it to pick up a staggering ninth All-Ireland medal.

An old-fashioned defender and he made the spot his own very quickly. Rock solid performances earned him the top ticket for the final – David Clifford. And he made the Kerry star kick from unfavourable angles.


4 – Conor McCluskey


CAN count himself unlucky not to be vying for a second successive All-Star. After taking a while to convince the management of his worth, he has been their attacking outlet coming from defence.

His attacking role was missed when he was forced to defender only in the league final and his goal against Monaghan in the Ulster Championship forced Vinny Corey into a change that turned their season.

5 – James McCarthy


ANOTHER of the nine-time winners club. While he can count himself lucky not to pick up a second booking in the final, his sheer determination pulled Dublin up another level.

The run he made at the start of the second half against Mayo was totally inspirational.

Leaving Karl O’Connell out here was extremely difficult and tells everything about McCarthy’s input.

6 – Gareth McKinless


THE ultimate centre back. Can man mark. Has positional sense to play as a sweeper. And can attack at will.

He tore teams to shreds last season and was again pivotal in everything Derry did through the middle.

Was wrestling with Brendan Rogers for Player of the Match in the semi-final.


7 – Conor McCarthy


WHAT a season. Of his 3-24, 2-15 came from play and none more important that his winning point against Kildare to put the final gloss on the Oriel comeback.

Time and time again he pulled Monaghan forward and when they transformed themselves after their Ulster exit, McCarthy was to the fore. A career-changing move from corner forward.


8 – Brian Fenton


WHEN Dublin’s season was bogged down in the second half of their three knock-out All-Ireland season, Fenton was there when need the most.

He chipped in with scores and always seemed to be in the right place. When Kerry began to go long in the latter stages of the final, he made a fine interception.


9 – Brendan Rogers


PLAY in a new position this year Brendan? No problem. Only Brian Fenton in the first half at Celtic Park, James McCarthy (league final) and Karl O’Connell (group stages) with tagging roles broke even with him. For the rest of the 17 and half games, he tortured teams.

Didn’t grow up a natural shooter but his 1-14 from plat this season capped of a Player of the Year standard of consistency.


10 – Paudie Clifford


HAD Kerry won the All-Ireland, he was a clear winner of the Player of the Match against Dublin with three points. And he had a hand in plenty more.

The fact Conor McCluskey matched him every step of the way showed the level of influence he has. It was half way to Derry nearly chinning the Kingdom. Edges out Sean O’Shea.


11 – Paul Mannion


DOES Sam reside in Dublin without Paul Mannion? No chance. His display in the final was what eventually tipped the scales.

Since coming in for the last league game, he played a part all the way through the championship.

In an attack where someone was always held on a given day, Mannion stood tallest on the biggest Sunday with five impressive points.


12 – Shane McGuigan


PLAYED like a man determined not be overlooked by the All-Star selectors for a second successive year.

He has more Player of the Match awards than anybody can count and finished as top scorer in the championship with 5-110 in total.

His display in Ulster final was immense. He simply dragged Derry from the jaws of defeat.


13 – Cormac Costello


A FIRST All-Ireland medal as a starter and he thoroughly deserved it. He kicked well in their win over Mayo when all the questions were asked. At the end of a consistent season, he edged Con O’Callaghan away from the Dublin top scorer spot with 1-41 to his name.


14 – David Clifford


WITH more composure and a few inches here and there, he could’ve tagged on the other couple of points that could’ve had him lifting Sam. To anyone else, 0-3 of scores and 1-2 assists would be a mighty return for an All-Ireland final. Still the best forward in the country and will be a marked man again next season.


15 – Colm Basquel


WHAT a story. From being the man on the outside, barring the Roscommon game, Colm Basquel played in every single game of Dublin’s season.

His 2-2 helped sink Mayo and all but two points of his 5-17 season tally came from play.

He also had an important role to play in the final to cap off a fine season.

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