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The 8 best footballers to grace the 2017 All-Ireland senior football championship

Five Dubs and three from Mayo on our list.

TEAM HONOURS HAVE been handed out and attention now turns to the annual PWC GAA All-Star and Footballer of the Year selections.

There are plenty of stand-out contenders for the individual player of the year honour, with All-Ireland final man-of-the-match James McCarthy favourite with the bookies.

The Sunday Game panellists have already declared McCarthy as their stand-out performer from the 2017 campaign but he has stiff competition before the official announcement is revealed.

Here, we list the 8 best players who stamped their mark all over the summer that was…

1. James McCarthy (Dublin)

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Man-of-the-match in the All-Ireland final and the favourite for the Footballer of the Year gong – it’s been some season for James McCarthy.

His switch from wing-back to midfield has worked out superbly and the Ballymun Kickhams man enjoyed a towering campaign.

Capped his final display with two huge points.

2. Andy Moran (Mayo)

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Mayo’s man for all seasons was flying in the first half of Sunday’s final, clipping over three classy points.

He was called ashore with seven minutes left, but not before setting up Lee Keegan’s goal with a typically brilliant off-load.

Moran finished with 3-24 from Mayo’s ten games – an outstanding contribution from the 33-year-old.

3. Stephen Cluxton (Dublin)

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Five All-Ireland senior medals now for Cluxton – and four as captain.

Dublin’s goalkeeper remains as vital as ever to the cause – and his switch to a shorter kick-out strategy for the second half of Sunday’s win was vital. 

Cluxton also pulled off some brilliant saves in this year’s championship – including a late penalty stop from Tyrone’s Peter Harte and a crucial block to keep out Mayo’s Jason Doherty.

4. Dean Rock (Dublin)

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Black-carded in the Leinster final victory over Kildare but Rock enjoyed a brilliant All-Ireland series.

The Ballymun Kickhams star collected 1-7 against Monaghan, five points in the Tyrone win and seven points in the Mayo win.

Four of those were from play and Rock’s late, late winning free secured three-in-a-row for Jim Gavin’s men.

5. Con O’Callaghan (Dublin)

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

‘King Con’ lit up the 2017 championship with some brilliant displays.

A 0-12 haul against Kildare in the Leinster final was followed up by superb goals in the Tyrone and Mayo games.

It’s been some calendar year for O’Callaghan, who’s picked up four All-Ireland medals in the space of 12 months. 

6. Paul Mannion (Dublin)

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

A model of consistency in Dublin’s attack this year, Mannion’s form kept some big names out of the starting line-up.

Man-of-the-match against Westmeath in the Leinster championship, Mannion also produced big displays against Monaghan, Tyrone and Mayo.

His three points were crucial to the Sky Blue cause on final day – and Mannion justified the faith shown in him by manager Gavin.

7. Keith Higgins (Mayo)

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

His 2017 championship season began on a real downer when he was sent off against Galway but Keith Higgins recovered to produce a stellar campaign.

The veteran defender was simply brilliant from July until September, as Mayo made big progress through the back door.

His goal against Roscommon in the All-Ireland quarter-final replay was one of the scores of the year.

8. Colm Boyle (Mayo)

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Whipped off again before full-time on Sunday but not before emptying the tank.

Goalscorer in the Kerry draw, man of the match in the replay, and a fine point in the final against Dublin – Colm Boyle gave everything to the cause for Mayo again this year.

Now 29, time is running out for Boyle and some of his more experienced colleagues if they’re to win that elusive All-Ireland medal.

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