Tyrone trio lead Ulster's hopes of scooping All Star honours
No fewer than 12 Ulster players are in the frame for coveted PwC GAA/GPA Football All-Star awards, a fitting testimony to the current rich raft of talent within the province.
It goes without saying, of course, that when the All-Star team is eventually announced it will be peppered with Dublin names following the team's historic achievement in landing a fifth All-Ireland title on the trot.
Nonetheless, while Ulster names figure in every team line from goalkeeper to left-full-forward, it is thought that Tyrone duo Ronan McNamee and Cathal McShane in particular can have reasonable expectations of making the final cut. They are joined in the nominees list by Red Hands skipper Mattie Donnelly.
McNamee was in majestic form in both league and Championship, the proverbial defensive rock who personified the Red Hands' resistance, particularly on those occasions when their backs were to the wall.
McShane, on the other hand, produced a stunning scoring blitz that yielded 3-48 and helped him into joint top scorers spot in the Championship which he shared with Kerry's Sean O'Shea.
Donnelly's inspirational leadership, meanwhile, had much to do with guiding the Red Hands into the All-Ireland semi-final where they fell short to losing finalists Kerry.
The achievement of Armagh duo Jarlath Og Burns and Rian O'Neill in securing nominations after what was their first full season of inter-county action reflects huge credit on both players.
Burns has been a stellar figure at midfield, and while it will be a big surprise if Brian Fenton and David Moran are not the confirmed partnership on the All-Stars team, nonetheless Burns proved that he has arrived as a formidable force on the inter-county stage.
O'Neill's artistry and finishing power lent a fresh dimension to the Armagh attack, as did his willingness to drop deep and win vital possession.
He is also one of three candidates for the Young Player of the Year award along with Kerry duo David Clifford and Sean O'Shea.
In providing six All-Star nominees - Shaun Patton, Ryan McHugh, Stephen McMenamin, Michael Murphy, Jamie Brennan and Patrick McBrearty - Donegal have underlined their vast reservoir of talent.
• GAVIN Devlin, who is Mickey Harte's right hand man in the Tyrone football management set-up, has been hit with a 24-week suspension by the Central Competitions Control Committee.
It is understood that the lengthy ban emanates from an alleged breach of a Rule 7.2 (d) T.O. 2019 - 'Disruptive conduct by a supporter (not causing the premature termination of a game)' - relating to a National Under-15 Academy Tournament fixture between Tyrone and Down at Garvaghey during the summer.
Devlin had requested a hearing at which the infraction was found to be proven resulting in the imposition of the lengthy ban. He now has the option of taking his case to the Central Appeals Committee.
PwC GAA/GPA Football All Star Nominees: Goalkeepers: S Cluxton (Dublin), S Patton (Donegal), S Ryan (Kerry).
Defenders: D Byrne, J Small, J McCaffrey, J McCarthy, M Fitzsimons (all Dublin); T Morley, T O'Sullivan, P Murphy (all Kerry); R McNamee (Tyrone); C Moynagh (Cavan); S McMenamin, R McHugh (Donegal); C Boyle,C Barrett,P Durcan (all Mayo);N Daly (Roscommon);D Keogan,C McGill (Meath).
Midfielders: B Fenton, M D Macualey (both Dublin), D Moran (Kerry), A O'Shea (Mayo), B Menton (Meath), J Óg Burns (Armagh).
Forwards: C Kilkenny,B Howard, P Mannion, D Rock, C O'Callaghan (all Dublin); D Clifford, P Geaney, S O'Brien, S O'Shea (all Kerry); M Murphy,J Brennan, P McBrearty (all Donegal); C McShane, M Donnelly (Tyrone); J Malone (Clare), C Cox (Roscommon), R O'Neill (Armagh), B Hurley (Cork).
Player Of The Year Candidates: S Cluxton, C O'Callaghan, J McCaffrey (all Dublin).
Young Player Of The Year Candidates: D Clifford, S O'Shea (both Kerry); R O'Neill (Armagh).