Dublin dominate the 2018 All-Star football team as expected – but there’s no place again for Dubs goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton.
In September Cluxton became the first man to lift the Sam Maguire on four occasions and he is credited with revolutionising the game of football with his quick, accurate restarts.
And while he has five All-Stars, the last of those came in 2013 and only two of them came in years when Dublin won the All-Ireland.
He has been overlooked in each of Dublin’s four in-a-row years – Kerry’s Brendan Kealy getting the nod in 2015, David Clarke of Mayo in ’16 and ’17, with Monaghan’s Rory Beggan selected this year.
Elsewhere, the team is along expected lines, with Dublin, the team that dominated the season from start to finish, winning League, Leinster and All-Ireland, getting seven All-Stars.
Monaghan get three, Tyrone, the team that beat them in the semi-final, get two, and there’s one apiece for Donegal, Kerry and Galway.
Goalkeeper: Rory Beggan, Monaghan (first All-Star)
The Monaghan goalkeeper had arguably the most influential season of his career as the Farney County made their first All-Ireland semi-final in 30 years. His kicking off the tee, out of his hand, and particularly from long-range dead balls was exceptional.
Right corner-back: Jonny Cooper, Dublin (second All-Star)
Jim Gavin’s general in defence had another note-perfect season, delivering a string of composed performances, most often on the opposition’s main attacking danger-man. He combines his defensive abilities with brilliant football skills.
Full-back: Colm Cavanagh, Tyrone (second All-Star)
In the season after his big brother Sean retired, Colm Cavanagh really stepped up to fill any leadership void that may have been left behind in Tyrone. The 2008 All-Ireland winner was usually named in midfield, but dropped back to defence.
Left corner-back: Padraig Hampsey, Tyrone (first All-Star)
This ball-playing defender was one of the Red Hand County’s main men as they made their first All-Ireland final appearance in ten years. He was one of Tyrone’s best performers against the Dubs on a day when most of his team mates were swamped.
Right half-back: Karl O’Connell, Monaghan (first All-Star)
The 31-year-old is by far the oldest of this season’s first-time All-Stars. This former sprinter didn’t take up Gaelic football until he was 17, but he quickly became one of Monaghan’s go-to men. His running from deep this year was eye-catching.
Centre-back: James McCarthy, Dublin (third All-Star)
This man is the engine of Dublin’s defence, breaking up attacks and then roaring forward in possession with frightening physicality. He started the All-Ireland final in midfield, but showed his versatility dropping into the half-backs when Cian O’Sullivan departed injured.
Left half-back: Jack McCaffrey, Dublin (third All-Star)
The former Footballer of the Year showed that he was back to his peak following the cruciate knee ligament injury he suffered early in last year’s All-Ireland win over Mayo. His pace breaking from the back is almost impossible to combat and he chipped in with vital scores.
Midfield: Brian Fenton, Dublin (third All-Star)
Mr Dependable has still to lose a Championship game playing for Dublin and the Footballer of the Year nominee was again the gold standard in midfield. Brilliant in the air and comfortable on the ball he showed his accuracy with two points in the final.
Midfield: Brian Howard, Dublin (first All-Star)
Dubs boss Jim Gavin eased the youngster into the team in 2017, but this season he became an ever-present and played at half-forward and midfield. He has taken over Paul Flynn’s role as the hard-working ball winner in the middle third and his football skills mean there’s plenty of end-product.
Right half-forward: Paul Mannion, Dublin (second All-Star)
There was a rare misstep when he missed a penalty in the Leinster final win over Laois, but he more than made up for that when he slotted home a spot-kick in the All-Ireland against Tyrone and finished off a perfect season with a Dublin SFC title with Kilmacud Crokes.
Centre forward: Ciaran Kilkenny, Dublin (third All-Star)
This is the player that pulls the strings for Dublin, linking defence and attack, keeping his team moving with his clever movement and passing. He can kick a score as well, as his four from play in the All-Ireland final against Tyrone displayed, as if anyone was in doubt.
Left half-forward: Ryan McHugh, Donegal (second All-Star)
This was a year of transition for Donegal under new manager Declan Bonner, but Ryan McHugh kept doing what he does – working back and carrying the forward with ruthless efficiency. One of the most dynamic players in the game.
Right corner-forward: David Clifford, Kerry (first All-Star)
It didn’t take the teenager long to find his feet at senior football and he provided one of the moments of the year when his brilliant late goal against Monaghan in the Super 8s kept Kerry’s chances alive, for one more game at least.
Full-forward: Conor McManus, Monaghan (third All-Star)
What a point! Watch this class score from Conor McManus! pic.twitter.com/UopRcS9Y9e— The GAA (@officialgaa) May 20, 2018
One of the most lethal finishers in the game was finally on a team that won an All-Ireland quarter-final game and got to play at the semi-final stage, even if Monaghan fell just short against Tyrone. Slotted one of the points of the year against the Red Hand County when they met in Ulster back in May.
Left corner-forward: Ian Burke, Galway (first All-Star)
The corner-forward was one of the key men as Galway won their first Championship game in Croke Park since 2001. He was voted the Tribesmen’s fans’ player of the year and he won an All-Ireland club title with Corofin on St Patrick’s Day. Not a bad season, all told.
Follow the PwC All-Star Awards 2018 this Friday via our live blog on RTÉ.ie/sport or the News now app, or watch live coverage on RTÉ One from 7pm