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All-Star line up is already starting to take shape

Comment: Peter Canavan

When it comes to picking the All- Star team at the end of the season, the selectors will be much more influenced in what they see in August and September than what has happened to this point in the championship summer.

And with so much football still to be played yet this year, there's plenty of time for some of the game's big names to make their move, but these are the top 10 footballers in the country as I see it right now.


The Dingle man tops the list on the basis that he has been the most consistent forward in the country, putting in good showings across both the latter stages of the National League and in the championship so far.

There is no doubting his talent, but he is maturing into a more physical, prolific and, most importantly, consistent player for the Kingdom.

Geaney now has a little bit of all the things you need to lead the line, and the possibility of him lining up alongside both James O'Donoghue and Kieran Donaghy in the Kerry attack means he'll only get better.



Kilkenny is playing the best ­football of his career right now. If there was a criticism of him in previous seasons, it was that he played too much of his football too far from goal.

He's changed that this year, as witnessed by his first goal for the Dubs against Westmeath, with his tally standing at 1-8 from play for the championship so far.

The Castleknock man was always strong and unselfish but was too slow to take on his man at times.

In typical Dublin style, they seem to have added that to his game now and he has emerged as one of their new leaders.



The stand-out player in the Ulster Championship. He was man of the match in two of Tyrone's three games in the province, including against Donegal where he was tasked with picking up Michael Murphy, while he put in a powerful display against Down in the Ulster final.

Not only can he shut opposing players down but he can also chip in with scores. Hampsey mixes ­courage with class and is showing why he has always been highly thought of in Tyrone.


4 ENDA SMITH (Roscommon)

Smith's inclusion means the four provinces have one each in the top four, but he isn't picked ­purely on the basis of his powerful show against Galway in the ­Connacht final.

Whenever I saw Roscommon in the league, he was their go-to man, something that is so crucial to a developing a side like theirs.

Always a strong runner, footballing nous has never been a problem for him, but he is growing into a leader for Kevin McStay's men and is starting to bend games to his will, as witnessed in the Connacht final.



A devastating footballer at his best so you'd be foolish to leave him out of any list like this.

Of late, there have been some signs that he was getting back close to the kind of form that made him Footballer of the Year in 2014.

When Kerry were down to 14 men against Clare, O'Donoghue was superb, while some of the points he kicked against Cork in the Munster decider were right out of the top bracket.

He's missed a lot of football over the last couple of seasons but if he can stay fit, he will get even better for Eamonn Fitzmaurice's side.



Dublin's ability to perform to the highest level time and time again is one of their greatest strengths, and no one reflects that more than Mr. Consistent Brian Fenton.

Time and again he has delivered top-notch performances, and even though Kevin Feely outfielded him in the Leinster final, Fenton was able to make up for that with the quality of his tackling, his turnovers and the way he brings his forwards into the game.

Along with Kilkenny, he has emerged as a real leader in a new-look Dublin side.



There are no shortage of quality attacking half-backs who are in good form right now, with Down's Caolan Mooney and Conor Devaney of Roscommon worthy of honourable mentions here, but for me McCann just shades it.

His athleticism is now combined with real quality going forward.

As well as being a reliable defender, McCann has scored in each of Tyrone's three championship games to date and regularly sets up attacks for Mickey Harte's side.


8 KIERAN HUGHES (Monaghan)

Another player whose talent was never in doubt, but throughout the league I have seen a new level of consistency in his play and, with the exception of the black card he picked up against Fermanagh, he has carried that good form into the championship.

An excellent fielder to have in the middle third, Hughes carried the fight more than anyone when Monaghan were struggling against the likes of Down and Carlow.

Long-range point-taking, particularly off the outside of his left boot, is fast becoming a trademark.



I still expect Mayo to reach an All- Ireland quarter-final and if they do it will be thanks in no small part to O'Shea.

After a poor performance against Galway, they are starting to build through the back door, and no-one did more to pull them out of trouble than him when they were teetering on the brink against Derry.

He was similarly forceful when they struggled early on against Clare and, with his injuries behind him, he'll likely only get better with each passing game.

He'll be keen to deliver on the biggest days for Mayo but, on what we've seen so far this term, he's deservedly in the top 10.


10 KEVIN FEELY (Kildare)

Kildare's resurgence of late has coincided with the emergence of Feely, who is one of the best up-and-coming midfielders in the game right now.

He performed really well in Division 2 in the spring for the Lilywhites and made more people take note when he bossed the early stages of the Leinster Championship.

But it was his performance against All-Ireland champions Dublin that shows he is the real deal.

He put on an exhibition of fielding that day and kicked points off both feet.

Kildare have a top-class prospect on their hands in Feely.

Belfast Telegraph


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