Three All Star awards a realistic aim for Ulster
Ten Ulster players are in the frame for coveted Opel All Star football awards tonight — but only three are likely to return home with trophies.
The 45-strong nominations list is peppered with players from Dublin, Kerry and Cork which in essence means that very few places on the All Stars team will be up for grabs.
Donegal backs Neil McGee and Karl Lacey look to have a good chance of lifting awards but Tyrone’s Joe McMahon may miss out simply because of the preponderance of top-class defenders.
And another Tyrone man, Sean Cavanagh, will find himself pitted against too many skilful players to derive any joy from his midfield nomination.
The National League may have long since been consigned to the memory bank but Cavanagh played well in that competition, a fact that the judges might well take on board.
Donegal duo Michael Murphy and Colm McFadden will vie for awards up front and the latter could get the nod from the judges.
One player who thoroughly deserves to be among the nominees is Derry’s Eoin Bradley.
He missed the greater part of the season through a combination of suspension and injury but the lithe sharpshooter was hugely impressive during the National League, often single-handedly carrying the Derry attack while his brother Paddy was an absentee through injury.
Eoin’s wizardry illuminated the start of the season but more often than not it’s players who step up to the mark in August and September who can find themselves very much in vogue when it comes to the All Stars.
It is unlikely to be any different tonight especially as Dublin lead the way with 12 nominees while Kerry have nine and Cork seven.
All star nominees
Goalkeepers: Brendan Kealy (Kerry), Stephen Cluxton (Dublin), Paul Durkan (Donegal).
Full Backs: Michael Foley (Kildare), Neil McGee (Donegal), Frank McGlynn (Donegal), Marc Ó Sé (Kerry), Rory O'Carroll (Dublin), Tom O'Sullivan (Kerry), Joe McMahon (Tyrone), Hugh McGrillen (Kildare), Cian O'Sullivan (Dublin).
Half backs: Karl Lacey (Donegal), Donal Vaughan (Mayo), Trevor Mortimer (Mayo), Kevin Nolan (Dublin), Kevin Cassidy (Donegal), Emmet Bolton (Kildare), Tomás Ó Sé (Kerry), Killian Young (Kerry), Ger Brennan (Dublin).
Midfielders: Bryan Sheehan (Kerry), Michael Darragh Macauley (Dublin), Alan O’Connor (Cork), Seán Cavanagh (Tyrone), John Doyle (Kildare), Denis Bastick (Dublin).
Half Forwards: Ben Brosnan (Wexford), Alan Brogan (Dublin), Darran O’Sullivan (Kerry), Declan O’Sullivan (Kerry), Paul Flynn (Dublin), Alan Dillon (Mayo), Kevin McManamon (Dublin), Paddy Kelly (Cork), Eamonn Callaghan (Kildare).
Full forwards: Donnacha O’Connor (Cork), Michael Murphy (Donegal), Bernard Brogan (Dublin), Colm Cooper (Kerry), Andy Moran (Mayo), Colm McFadden (Donegal), Eoin Bradley (Derry), Diarmuid Connolly (Dublin), Cillian O’Connor (Mayo).
The 2011 GPA/GAA Opel Allstars hurling side has been confirmed with Henry Shefflin winning a record 10th award.
Allstars team: Gary Maguire (Dublin); Paul Murphy (Kilkenny), Paul Curran (Tipperary), Michael Cahill (Tipperary);Tommy Walsh (Kilkenny), Brian Hogan (Kilkenny), Pádraic Maher (Tipperary); Liam Rushe (Dublin), Michael Fennelly (Kilkenny); Michael Rice (Kilkenny), Richie Power (Kilkenny), Henry Shefflin (Kilkenny); John Mullane (Waterford), Lar Corbett (Tipperary), Richie Hogan (Kilkenny).