Cork's absentees a major talking point


2010 GAA ALL STARS:NOT SINCE the GAA All Stars were first dreamed up in 1971 will a football selection generate more debate over the players that didn’t make it as opposed to those that did.

With 11 first-time winners, there was bound to be some notable omissions.

So no player from either Leinster champions Meath or Connacht champions Roscommon. No forwards at all from All-Ireland champions Cork. No end either to Limerick’s wait for a first All Star.

Indeed no room for such obviously strong contenders as Cork’s Daniel Goulding, Donncha O’Connor, and Noel O’Leary, nor Dublin’s Rory O’Carroll and Michael Dara Macauley, nor Limerick’s great servant John Galvin.

None of which is to suggest that the 15 players that did make it aren’t fully deserving of their award. Rather, the 2010 Vodafone All Star football selection announced yesterday evening merely reflects what turned out to be an unexpectedly fresh and open football championship.

There was always going to be some big-time omissions to make way for the less conventional.

In a definite break from tradition, All-Ireland champions Cork aren’t even best represented but instead share that honour with beaten All-Ireland finalists Down – with both counties getting four players onto the team.

Amazingly, Cork’s return is actually one less than last year, when they claimed five All Stars, despite losing the All-Ireland final to Kerry.

Three of the Cork players are defenders – full back Michael Shields, and half backs Paudie Kissane and Graham Canty – and the fourth is midfielder Aidan Walsh, who did his chances of selection a huge favour with a massive performance in the All-Ireland final.

And yet Goulding, man of the match that day, and O’Connor, who was equally pivotal in scoring terms, both miss out.

Down’s four players were more or less as expected: goalkeeper Brendan McVeigh, half forwards Martin Clarke and Daniel Hughes, and corner forward Benny Coulter – who all claimed their first awards, and indeed the county’s first All Star of any kind since 1994, when they last won the All-Ireland.

On top of all that, history was made on two counts: Dublin’s Bernard Brogan set a family record as he joined his brother Alan and father Bernard as All Stars – the first time a father and two sons have entered the honours list in football.

And there was also cause for worthy celebration for Louth, with midfielder Paddy Keenan picking up his county’s first All Star – and perhaps bringing some further consolation to their desperately unfair Leinster final defeat to Meath.

Louth’s first award also reduces to five the number of counties yet to win a football All Star: Carlow, Limerick, Longford, Waterford, and Kilkenny.

What else? Sligo corner back Charlie Harrison claimed his county’s first award since Eamonn O’Hara in 2002.

Kildare were also rewarded for their strong run to the All-Ireland semi-final, with corner back Peter Kelly and half forward John Doyle both claiming their first awards.

Kerry’s sole representative this year went to corner forward Colm “Gooch” Cooper, who will collect his sixth award.

Completing the team was the Ulster champions Tyrone’s sole representation – Philip Jordan at half back.

Significantly only two members of last year’s All Star team regain their positions; Cork’s Michael Shields and Graham Canty.

And only four of this year’s selection – Shields, Canty, Jordan and Cooper – are previous winners.

In all then, eight of the 12 counties nominated were represented: Down (4), Cork (4), Kildare (2), Louth, Sligo, Tyrone, Dublin and Kerry (one each).

Clearly, the selection committee of esteemed GAA journalists from print, radio and television had an interesting afternoon.

“I’m sure it’s a team that will cause a lot of debate, and a lot of discussion, over the next number of days,” said GAA president Christy Cooney.

“But after a long discussion, and many strong felt views on the selection, this is what was decided by the journalists, and the team they considered the best players in these positions for 2010.

“This was my second year chairing the selection committee, and certainly there was a lot more discussion, debate and strong views over who should and shouldn’t be on the team. It would be fair to say it took us the full two and a half hours to make the final selection, and it was very, very strongly debated.”

Cooney also announced the three nominations for footballer of the year: Bernard Brogan of Dublin, Michael Shields from Cork, and Danny Hughes from Down.

The young footballer of the year nominees are Aidan Walsh of Cork, Peter Kelly of Kildare, and Graham Reilly of Meath.

Those winners will be announced at tomorrow evening’s All Star banquet in Dublin, live on RTÉ1 from 7pm, where the hurling All Stars will be unveiled live, plus the hurler and young hurler of the year.

2010 Football All Stars

1 Brendan McVeigh

(Down, 1st award)

2 Peter Kelly

(Kildare, 1st award)

3 Michael Shields

(Cork, 2nd award)

4 Charlie Harrison

(Sligo, 1st award)

5 Paudie Kissane

(Cork, 1st award)

6 Graham Canty

(Cork, 3rd award)

7 Philip Jordan

(Tyrone, 4th award)

8 Paddy Keenan

(Louth, 1st award)

9 Aidan Walsh

(Cork, 1st award)

10 Daniel Hughes

(Down, 1st award)

11 Marty Clarke

(Down, 1st award)

12 John Doyle

(Kildare, 1st award)

13 Colm Cooper

(Kerry, 6th award)

14 Bernard Brogan

(Dublin, 1st award)

15 Benny Coulter

(Down, 1st award)