Cluxton misses out as Dubs dominate All Stars, how does Joe Schmidt manage his bench?

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Willie Mullins’ Faugheen gets to grips with a pumpkin at Closutton. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Willie Mullins’ Faugheen gets to grips with a pumpkin at Closutton. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The 2018 Football All Stars have been revealed, and unsurprisingly it is All-Ireland champions Dublin who dominate after a campaign which saw them lift Sam Maguire for a fourth year on the spin. Indeed, seven members of Jim Gavin’s panel have received the award - including the midfield duo of Brian Fenton and Brian Howard, who make history as the first centrefield combination to come from the same club, Raheny. Another eye-catching recipient is Kerry’s David Clifford, who becomes the first teenage All Star since Colm Cooper 16 years ago. However, despite captaining Dublin to a record-equalling four-in-a-row, Stephen Cluxton misses out for a fifth year running - with Rory Beggan selected in goal instead. Beggan is one of three All Stars from Monaghan, but Malachy Clerkin writes this morning that despite being snubbed, Cluxton’s legacy is secure: “Cluxton would have got this corner’s vote. But it’s no outrage that Beggan ultimately prevailed. And whatever happens, Cluxton will be Strawberry Fields forever.”

In this morning’s rugby statistics column John O’Sullivan has looked at how often Ireland have emptied their bench in matches played since the 2015 World Cup, after it was revealed the All Blacks have used all eight substitutes in each of their 38 Test matches between 2016-18. He writes: “On 20 occasions in 31 matches, Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has used all eight replacements while at the other end of the scale there are five games in which two players didn’t get a minute and four of those relate to the replacement halfbacks.” Indeed, the numbers suggest if there’s two positions Ireland are less likely to change it’s at scrumhalf and outhalf - which in turn could be interpreted as an over-reliance on Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton. Meanwhile Ronan O’Gara has said that he “can’t see” Murray being fit to face New Zealand on November 17th - but that it would be “easily doable” if he returns to full contact training on Monday.

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