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Ulster players will not dominate Allstars list

By John Campbell

It's unlikely that Ulster names will be to the fore when the 2013 Allstars line-up is confirmed tonight in Dublin.

While there is a posse of players from the province among the nominees for the coveted awards, the dominance of Dublin in the All-Ireland series coupled with Mayo's sustained effort to win their first All-Ireland title since 1951 ensures that these two teams will supply the bulk of the line-up.

Yet defenders Colin Walsh (Monaghan) and Conor Gormley (Tyrone) will surely have made strong claims for recognition, while it has become something of a tradition now that Tyrone's Sean Cavanagh finds himself in contention for a berth.

But the consistency of Aidan O'Shea (Mayo) and Michael Darragh Macauley (Dublin) at midfield means that Cavanagh is forced to jostle with a tranche of half-forward talent.

And among those he is up against is Cavan dynamo Cian Mackey, who had a superb year. Tyrone's Matthew Donnelly did his reputation no harm either.

It may not have been the best year for Ulster in terms of national honours, but a further three players – Martin Dunne (Cavan), Conor McManus (Monaghan) and Colm McFadden (Donegal) – have nonetheless remained in the frame for positions in the full-forward line.

Dunne proved a revelation in the Cavan attack during the Ulster championship in particular, while McManus was the ace in Monaghan's pack as promotion in the league and the Ulster title were annexed in convincing style.

Since then, McManus has gone on to shine on the International Rules stage and showed himself to be one of the most complete forwards in the country this year.

McFadden, meanwhile, was the only Donegal player to emerge with any real degree of merit from league and championship campaigns that went badly awry.

The Letterkenny schoolteacher still managed to serve up a masterly class in finishing but his admirable single-handed efforts were insufficient to bring Donegal to any level of achievement.

There has been criticism recently that criteria for Allstar nominees tends to focus too closely on performances in the closing stages of the All-Ireland championship rather than on displays over the course of the year.

And the notion that some players are 'accommodated' has been castigated – so much so that this year's team is certain to be a true reflection of the best fifteen players in the country in their designated positions.

CAMPBELL'S CHOICE: S Cluxton (Dublin); C Walsh (Monaghan), G Cafferkey (Mayo), K Higgins (Mayo); L Keegan (Mayo), D Vaughan (Mayo), J McCaffrey (Dublin); A O'Shea (Mayo), M D Macauley (Dublin); P Flynn (Dublin), C Cooper (Kerry), S Cavanagh (Tyrone); C O'Connor (Mayo), B Brogan (Dublin), C McManus (Monaghan).

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