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Thursday 2 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C
INPHO/James Crombie Paul Galvin: man-of-the-match performance in Killarney.
# GAA
Well played: here's your Gaelic football team of the weekend
As the dust settles on another weekend of top-class football, Ewan MacKenna hands out the jerseys.

1. Brian Scanlon (Limerick) - On the losing side but not his fault, in fact his team wouldn’t have seen extra-time had he not pulled an effort from a yard over the crossbar. Spreads himself really well for goal chances and he kicked a huge score from outside 45 which could have been a match-winner but for late drama.

2. Donal Keoghan (Meath) - Man, is he sticky. Early on in the Leinster final, Kevin McManoman went by him with ease and it looked like it could be a horrid day. But after that he shadowed his man and has a brilliant ability of getting a hand in before his opponent can take control of the ball and take off.

3. Ciarán McDonald (Tipperary) - He’s becoming a regular feature in this team, even if he’s accommodated at full-back. In fact he’s most likely already an All Star nomination thanks to his excellent man-marking, a quality that was again on show as he and his defence held Antrim to a measly eight points

4. Frank McGlynn (Donegal) - We never thought we’d say this but right now he’s Footballer of the Year. Did a great job on Conor Laverty who he held to a point, carried a huge amount of ball as always, covered huge yards as always and then topped it off with a great finish for the goal. Immense.

5. Emmet Bolton (Kildare) - The score of the summer so far. He was good anyway but to run 80 yards flat out and slot over an equalising point without slowing two minutes into injury time is remarkable. He’s having another great season and may win an All Star after his nomination a year ago.

6. Paddy McGrath (Donegal) - Yet another underrated and unsung hero on what’s becoming a juggernaut. Picked up a key play in Kevin McKernan for the most part and comfortably got the better of him. And as is expected of anyone in his side, he broke from deep and caused trouble in that regard too.

7. Cian O’Sullivan (Dublin) – Perhaps his best ever intercounty performance. He was solid in the tackle, his work rate was high but he added a new dimension with his attacking play as both Alan Forde and Cian Ward had a horrible time trying to trek his endless excursions up the field.

8. Mick Foley (Kildare) – It’s an area his side really struggle in and it’s an area where he’s by no means an expert but the All Star full-back, more than anyone else on his team, looked determined that this summer wasn’t going to end. Stopped Limerick dominating the middle third and when in possession he was direct and clever.

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9. Bryan Sheehan (Kerry) – There was nobody going to stop him. He dominated at centrefield, with some great high fielding but it was when he came down that he was even better. His runs were fast and furious, he broke a huge amount of tackles, won a lot of frees and at the end of it all, he’s the best ball striker in the country.

10. Stephen Kelly (Limerick) – He lost it at the end of the game in Portlaoise, but that was the frustration of the result getting away from him after such an effort. He ran marathon yards in linking his side’s 13-man defence with Ger Collins and Ian Ryan. He was hugely physical too and a key component in that defensive display.

11. Declan O’Sullivan (Kerry) – This season he’s been hurt by having to drop deep and cover for his defence but against Tyrone he did that, broke like a wing-back and had the composure to score and the vision to knock it about, just like he did when he was the best link man in football not so long ago. Granted, he should have been sent off.

12. Paul Galvin (Kerry)We saw the tears in the interview but even before that we knew through his performance just what it meant to him. There were signs of form in the league but nothing like this as he looked like the 2009 version. Was vital with breaking ball, was crucial in carrying ball and didn’t try to do too much thereafter.

13. Mark McHugh (Donegal) - He is evolving into just the player this side need to win an All Ireland. He drifts deep, finds great positions and can take a score from distance. He did that twice in the Ulster final and has a huge work rate when his side aren’t in possession.

14. Eoghan O’Gara (Dublin) – Bernard Brogan got man-of-the-match and we don’t get it as he did as much wrong as right. But O’Gara was the real hero, scoring 0-2, setting up a goal with a brilliant pass and his direct running was matched with good decision making. That caused havoc and made space for others, Brogan included.

15. Colm McFadden (Donegal) – Last year we criticised how one-footed he was but the slow ball and isolated role didn’t help him. This time, he’s getting possession quicker and his finishing has been spectacular. Scored 0-6 against Down but more than that, he led, making sure the game was always in their control.

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