The Vodafone football All-Stars are due to be announced tonight (Friday ), live on RTÉ with the hurling All-Stars having been announced earlier on this afternoon. As is the norm, the All-Ireland final winners will get the bulk of the statuettes, with the defeated finalists also collecting a few baubles as consolation for their year.
Normally the winning team collects a minimum of six awards, or perhaps seven, if they had a really good year and go through the championship undefeated. Tyrone garnered seven in 2008, whereas Kerry only collected six in 2007 and 2006. Tonight we can expect much the same scenario, with Kerry practically guaranteed that men such as Diarmuid Murphy, Tom O’Sullivan, Tomás Ó Sé, Paul Galvin and Declan O’Sullivan will collect. Others like Marc Ó Sé and Tommie Walsh will also be very close to getting the call up to the red stage for the All-Star team photograph. Cork will probably see the likes of team captain Graham Canty, John Miskella and Pearse O’Neill also get a gong and you’ll have a few stragglers then from the provincial champions or perhaps an individual who fought the good fight with honour and valour on a defeated team. Kildare’s Dermot Earley, for example, is a definite recipient tonight for his performances in the Leinster championship, and the qualifiers against the likes of Tyrone. If I was picking the All-Stars I’d go with the following:
1. Diarmuid Murphy (Kerry ). The Dingle man had a very fine season and, to be honest there, was not that much competition for the spot. He also collected All-Stars in 2004 and 2005 and his penalty save against Sligo will see him being the first name called out tonight.
2. Marc Ó Sé (Kerry ). It took him a long time to get into his stride but once he found his Croke Park feet he was in his element. I’d expect him to collect his third award tonight after also doing the business in 2006 and 2007.
3. Tom O’Sullivan (Kerry ). When you get man-of-the-match in the All-Ireland final you are a long way towards collecting a statuette. Had a very fine season with Kerry and was exceptionally consistent.
4. Karl Lacey (Donegal ). He put in two terrific performances on Derry’s Paddy Bradley and Galway’s Michael Meehan. He has pace to burn and is a very accomplished defender. If he was from Tyrone or Kerry he’d have a few All-Ireland medals in the treasure chest. Faces stiff competition from Anthony Lynch.
5. Tomás Ó Sé (Kerry ). Superb player. Hit some superb points against Dublin and Cork in the stadium of dreams. Will collect his fifth All-Star tonight.
6. Graham Canty (Cork ). Did everything right except nullify Tadhg Kennelly and win the final. Some consolation expected with his second award.
7. John Miskella (Cork ). Was terrific in the Munster championship. He had a very find season and put the shackles on Declan O’Sullivan, which is not easily done.
8. Seamus Scanlon (Kerry ). Does a lot of unseen and vital work for Kerry. Fully deserves an All-Star and was crucial to Kerry turning around their season.
9. Dermot Earley (Kildare ). Won his first All-Star back in 1998. It has taken eleven years, however he will collect his second tonight.
10. Paul Galvin (Kerry ). Probable player of the year. What a difference 12 months makes.
11. Pearse O’Neill (Cork ). Kept his worst performance of the year until the biggest day of the year. He had done enough before that, though, to have his name on one of the awards.
12.Leighton Glynn (Wicklow ). Wicklow had their best year ever and Glynn was the main man in making that happen. He is a bundle of energy and in their win over Down and almost beating Kildare in the qualifiers he showed why he is one of the best half-forwards in the country. Has played with Ireland too in the past. Dublin’s Bernard Brogan won’t be too far away either and may sneak into this position tonight. There are a lot of full-time journalists based in Dublin and they did win another Leinster title.
13. Stephen O’Neill (Tyrone ). O’Neill had a very fine year and he is a beautiful finisher. Capable of making and taking majestic points.
14. Declan O’Sullivan (Kerry ). Pound for pound the best Gaelic footballer in Ireland. No full back in Ireland would fancy their chances on him. O’Sullivan is a class act.
15. David Kelly (Sligo ). I know he won’t get one. But I’d give one to him. He was terrific against Galway, Tipperary and Kerry. I know he missed a penalty, but he is a great little forward and it would be great to see him in Croke Park on a big day. Tommy Walsh (Kerry ) will probably be the one to collect, not Kelly.