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Tipperary football All-Star watch - who are the leading contenders?

Who’s in line to join Declan Browne as football All-Star winners for the Premier County?

ALL GOOD THINGS must come to an end.

Evan Comerford at the end of the game Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The curtains closed yesterday on Tipperary’s fairy tale run in the 2016 championship. Despite a valiant effort, Liam Kearns’s men hadn’t the experience or guile to keep pace with Mayo. But on reflection, reaching a first All-Ireland semi-final since 1935 is a remarkable achievement for these players.

What it all means is that quite a few Tipp players stand a great chance of picking up their first All-Star awards at the end of the year. For a county that has only won two football All-Stars in its entire history (Declan Browne in 1998 and 2003), securing multiple awards would cap off a scarcely believable season.

Here’s a look at the six front-runners to bring an All-Star back to the Premier County:

Evan Comerford

One of the real stars to emerge this year thanks to Tipp’s rise. He has all the attributes required by a goalkeeper at the top level.

You could sum up Comerford’s season in his performance yesterday. The Kilsheelan-Kilcash stopper used his body well to save a goal-bound shot from Andy Moran when the game was in the melting pot in the second-half.

His handling was sound but the most impressive part about Comerford’s game is his distribution. His kick-outs were phenomenal yesterday and provided Tipp with a real platform around the middle third. The finest left peg on a goalkeeper not named Stephen Cluxton.

Bill Maher

Maher will hope his late red card yesterday won’t harm his chances of landing an All-Star. The half-back line has plenty of stiff competition for the award, but he has enjoyed an outstanding year.

A club mate of Comerford’s at Kilsheelan-Kilcash, Maher captained the county’s minor hurlers to All-Ireland glory in 2012. His strong running from deep and boundless energy was a feature of Tipp’s run to the last four.

Paul Murphy and Robbie Kiely Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Robbie Kiely

Tipperary missed Kiely’s defensive know-how yesterday, particularly when Keith Higgins sliced open the heart of the Premier defence with a darting run. His black-card after seven minutes caused panic on the Tipp sideline with Shane Leahy introduced, only to be whipped off before half-time.

The Carbery Rangers defender was a ball of energy level at centre-back throughout the championship and he was immense in his defensive duties. Kiely’s point off the outside of his right boot against Galway exuded class and confidence.

Peter Acheson

One of the driving forces behind the change in Tipp’s football fortunes. Acheson stands at the front of the queue to take an All-Star, and it’s no more than he deserves. A commanding influence at midfield all year, the 26-year-old showed us just how badly he wanted to be out there by playing through the pain barrier.

“I actually broke my hand during the week, playing with a heavy enough injection,” he told Newstalk after the game. While he wasn’t at his best against Mayo, the fact he was even out on the field said enough.

Acheson has decided to opt out of the panel for 2017 in favour of a move to Dubai with his girlfriend. He’d be well advised to leave a bit of room in the suitcase for a special guest.

Michael Quinlivan

The Clonmel Commercials sharpshooter has become a household name over the last 12 months. Leading his club to a Munster championship and All-Ireland semi-final was one thing, but Quinlivan backed that up by spearheading Tipp’s run to the last four of the All-Ireland series.

He filled his boots with 2-27 in five games and alongside Conor Sweeney formed a uniquely formidable full-forward line. Both players are tall and dominant in the air, but also deceptively quick on the ground and capable of scoring off either foot.

A player who wouldn’t look out of place on any side in the country.

Diarmuid O'Connor and Conor Sweeney Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Conor Sweeney

Tipp player improved more as the season went on than Conor Sweeney. He scored just 1-0 in the Munster championship, before embodying their growing belief by posting 2-10 across three do-or-die games against Derry, Galway and Mayo.

The Ballyporeen native’s ball winning ability and accuracy in front of the posts solidified his presence as one of the most consistent and reliable players Kearns had to call on.

Honourable mentions: Ciaran McDonald, Josh Keane and Brian Fox.

What Tipperary players do you think will win a football All-Star?

Poll Results:

 Michael Quinlivan (1619)
 Peter Acheson (669)
 Conor Sweeney (377)
Evan Comerford (170)
 Bill Maher (136)
Brian Fox (87)
 Robbie Kiely (70)
 Ciaran McDonald (55)
Josh Keane (20)

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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