Dublin equal record with nine players selected on All Stars team
Dublin have equalled the record of nine awards in this year’s PwC football All Stars selection. The six-in-a-row All-Ireland champions’ haul equals their that of their predecessors’ in 1977 and that of Kerry in 1981.
Kilkenny have achieved the same distinction in hurling on three occasions, in 1983, 2000 and 2008.
It is the 50th anniversary of the All Stars and this year’s hurling team will be named live on RTÉ television on Saturday evening when the players of the year, selected by their intercounty peers, will also be announced
The balance in the football team is made up of players from Cavan, with three, Mayo, two, and one for Tipperary. This is the first time since 2014 and only the fourth time in the history of the scheme that all award winners have come from the provincial champions.
Dublin’s total easily outstrips the county’s average of less than seven for their previous seven All-Irelands in the past 10 years. The county is also moving up onto Kerry’s shoulder in terms of total awards with 139, just six short, of their old rivals’ 145.
Among the points of contention may be All-Ireland finalists and Connacht champions Mayo’s meagre representation of two, as compared to the three, awarded to Ulster counterparts, Cavan.
That finalists should secure so few awards is not uncommon and it has been Mayo’s fate in three previous years, 2006, 2004 and 1997, in the latter year seeing defeated Leinster semi-finalists Kildare pick up three All Stars.
Other examples have been; Kerry (2002 and 1972), Armagh (2003), Tyrone (1995) and Cork (1993). On two occasions the defeated All-Ireland finalists have got just one award (Cork in 2007 and Galway in 1983).
There may also be focus on Dublin’s Robbie McDaid who, despite an excellent first season as a regular starter, sees his number seven jersey go to team-mate Eoin Murchan, whose status as the champions’ go-to man marker was enhanced this year, culminating in a strong display on Mayo’s Tommy Conroy in the All-Ireland final.
Elsewhere in the champions’ contingent, Brian Fenton becomes the clear number two all-time award winner at centrefield, with his fifth All Star – now just one behind Kerry’s legendary Jack O’Shea and one clear of Derry’s Anthony Tohill.
This means that Fenton has won an All Star in all but one season of his intercounty career, which also sees him yet to lose a single championship match since his debut in 2015.
Other multiple winners are James McCarthy, the only outfield player to start all of Dublin’s eight successful finals in the past 10 years, who wins a fourth award, this time at wing back. Also on that mark is centre forward Ciarán Kilkenny, who had another fine year, scoring 1-20 from play in five matches.
Cuala duo, Michael Fitzsimons and Con O’Callaghan each pick up a third All Star at left corner back and left wing forward, respectively.
As well as Murchan, John Small gets his first award, making it a big year for Ballymun Kickhams, three of whose players are included – along with McCarthy and Dean Rock, who gets recognised for the third time – and who won the Dublin title last September.
Cavan’s first Ulster title in 23 years is accompanied by three All Stars – the county’s first honours since that year, 1997. Goalkeeper Raymond Galligan was an unanimous choice after a season of some fine saves and the dying-seconds free that beat Monaghan in the provincial preliminary round.
He is joined by cousin, Thomas Galligan, whose heroics were central to the Ulster final win over Donegal, at centrefield and Pádraig Faulkner, the season’s outstanding full back.
It comes as a surprise to note that Mayo’s Cillian O’Connor is picking up just his second All Star and first since 2014. In the 2020 season, O’Connor who is the all-time top scorer in championship, created further history in the All-Ireland semi-final defeat of Tipperary by posting a record score in a championship match when shooting 4-9.
At the other end of the championship experience spectrum, his colleague Oisín Mullen earns recognition in his rookie year after a string of good performances, culminating in the All-Ireland final when he frequently gave as good as he got against Dublin’s Man of the Match, Con O’Callaghan.
The team is completed by Tipperary captain Conor Sweeney, who on a memorable afternoon in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, led the county to a first Munster title since 1935 and although beaten by Mayo in the All-Ireland stages, equalled the top score ever put up by losing semi-finalists.
Sweeney scored 2-27 during the four-match campaign.
PwC All-Stars Football 2020
(previous years selected in brackets)
1. Raymond Galligan (Cavan – Lacken)
2. Oisín Mullin (Mayo – Kilmaine)
3. Pádraig Faulkner (Cavan – Kingscourt Stars)
4. Michael Fitzsimons (Dublin – Cuala) – Previous winner in 2017 and 2019.
5. James McCarthy (Dublin – Ballymun Kickhams) – Previous winner in 2014, 2017 and 2018.
6. John Small (Dublin – Ballymun Kickhams)
7. Eoin Murchan (Dublin – Na Fianna)
8. Brian Fenton (Dublin – Raheny) – Previous winner in 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019.
9. Thomas Galligan (Cavan – Lacken)
10. Niall Scully (Dublin – Templeogue Synge Street)
11. Ciarán Kilkenny (Dublin – Castleknock) – Previous winner in 2015, 2016 and 2018.
12. Con O’Callaghan (Dublin – Cuala) – Previous winner in 2017 and 2019.
13. Cillian O’Connor (Mayo – Ballintubber) – Previous winner in 2014.
14. Conor Sweeney (Tipperary – Ballyporeen)
15. Dean Rock (Dublin – Ballymun Kickhams) – Previous winner in 2016 and 2017.