Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Joe Kernan: Plenty of Ulster stars missing from elite line-up

Not so long ago Ulster names tended to dominate the Allstars nominees list.

Of course, that was when Tyrone and to a lesser extent Armagh were winning All-Ireland titles.

It’s a rather different story now. Out of the 45 players who are in the running for the coveted honour, only ten are from Ulster — and this is perhaps a reflection on the current state of the game in the province.

And yet I cannot help feeling that there are a number of players from this part of the world whose claims for Allstar accolades have been overlooked.

I have no problem with the fact that seven Donegal players are in the mix — they deserve to be because they played in a side that were winners in both the National League and the Ulster Championship.

But the eight other Ulster counties could only muster three between them — and two of these were from Tyrone.

Derry provided Ulster’s only other nominee and it is to Eoin Bradley’s credit that despite missing segments of the season through suspension and injury he still managed to find himself among the elite.

Yet players like Jamie Clarke (Armagh), Darren Hughes (Monaghan) and Philip Jordan (Tyrone) were ignored while I am rather surprised that people like Aaron Kernan and Paul Hearty were not in the mix because of their exploits with Crossmaglen Rangers and Armagh.

It is understandable that Dublin and Donegal should provide almost half of the nominees (21) and if you lob in the nine from Kerry this means that three counties offer exactly two-thirds of the total of 45.

This clearly underlines the fact that Allstar awards are fast becoming the preserve of championship winners and while there is merit in that, it is a pity that other individuals who perform to a consistently high level over the course of the season tend to be forgotten about.

Incidentally, it is most encouraging to note that the GAA and GPA are now bonded in relation to the Allstars under the banner of the sponsorship of Opel.

Times are certainly changing!

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