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James McCarthy's inclusion and 4 other talking points from the Allstars

Paul Flynn joins the greats and the provincial champions dominate again.

Darach OÕConnor with Paul Murphy Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

The lowest total for All-Ireland champions since 2010

ONE THIRD OF THE victorious Kerry team claimed Allstars and they had one player on every line apart from the half-forward line, but it was still the lowest total for All-Ireland champions since Cork’s four in 2010.

Kieran Donaghy’s selection at 14 always looked a likely bet after Michael Murphy was nominated further out the field. The Austin Stacks man started just two championship games in 2014, but it can’t be denied he turned the course of the season from when he was introduced in the drawn game against Mayo.

Peter Crowley’s excellent form towards the end of the season sees him claim the centre back slot. In the full-forward line, Footballer of the Year front runner James O’Donoghue won his second successive Allstar after a barnstorming season in Colm Cooper’s absence.

Paul Flynn and Graeme Molloy Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Flynn joins the greats

Paul Flynn becomes the first footballer outside of Kerry to win four Allstars in-a-row – a remarkable achievement, especially in the modern game. Pat Spillane (1976 – 1981), Jack O’Shea (1980-85) and Paidi Ó’Sé (1981-85) are the only other three players to claim at least four awards in succession, as Flynn joins an illustrious group.

It’s a testament to the Fingallians forward’s remarkable consistency since he established himself in the Dublin attack and all four of his awards have come in the same position – right-half forward. His championship debut for Dublin, when he was whipped off at half-time against Westmeath in 2008 as a 21-year-old, seems like light years away.

Keith Higgins won his third Allstar in-a-row, becoming the first Mayo player to do so and only the third player, after Flynn and Tyrone’s Sean Cavanagh, to win three on the trot in the qualifier era (since 2001).

Ryan McHugh celebrates after scoring his side's first goal Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Ryan McHugh misses out

For the fourth consecutive year, the Young Footballer of the Year won’t win an Allstar. Ryan McHugh is the favourite to succeed Jack McCaffrey as the best young player in the game, but he was ousted by Paul Flynn, Diarmuid Connolly and team-mate Michael Murphy for an award on an extremely competitive half-forward line.

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McHugh was a stand-out performer on Donegal’s run to the All-Ireland final, with man-of-the-match displays in the Ulster final and All-Ireland semi-final, although a quiet display in the decider hampered his chances of joining his brother Mark and dad Martin with an Allstar.

Cillian O’Connor, who picked up his first award this year, was named Young Footballer of the Year in 2011 and 2012. Aidan Walsh in 2010 was the last footballer to win the award and claim an Allstar, back in 2010.

James McCarthy Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

James McCarthy’s inclusion

James McCarthy’s inclusion on the half-back line was the most controversial selection by the Allstar committee. The Dubs may have been outclassed in the semi-final by Donegal, but up until then McCarthy’s power and pace singled him out as one of their best performers in 2014

That said, Aidan O’Mahony was a model of defensive consistency for Kerry this year and was the unluckliest player to miss out, while Frank McGlynn and Dessie Mone might also be aggrieved with the Ballymun wing-back being selected ahead of them.

Andy Moran lifts the trophy Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Provincial champions dominate again

For the second time in three years, the Allstars are limited to the four All-Ireland semi-finalists, mirroring the 2012 selection when the four provincial winners dominated the team.

Only players from Mayo, Dublin, Kerry and Donegal made the team and the same applied in 2012 when Mayo, Donegal, Cork and Dublin were the only representatives in the 15.

It begs the question – should the earlier rounds of the championship matter or, as showcased by the Donaghy selection and plenty of omissions, is it rightly all about the business end of the season?

Here’s the 2014 Allstar football team – 5 for Kerry, 4 for Donegal, 3 each for Dublin and Mayo

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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