The GAA/GPA All-Star nominations list was published late last night and, just like last year, we have ten players on the list. As was also the case twelve months ago the team that beat us in the All-Ireland final – this time Dublin – heads the list with twelve nominations while Ulster champions Monaghan are next on six. Then it’s Kerry with five, Tyrone four, three for Cavan (their best ever showing for sure) and one each for Cork, Donegal (how the mighty have fallen), Galway, Meath and London. It is, of course, the Exiles’ first ever time to have a player nominated for an All-Star.
The ten Mayo lads nominated are Robbie Hennelly, Ger Cafferkey, Chris Barrett, Keith Higgins, Lee Keegan, Donal Vaughan, Colm Boyle, Aidan and Seamus O’Shea and Cillian O’Connor. In addition, Lee has – along with Dublin’s Stephen Cluxton and Michael Darragh Macauley – been shortlisted for the Player of the Year award while Cillian has, once again, been nominated for the Young Player of the Year Award. The two-times winner of this gong is bracketed with Dublin’s Jack McCaffrey and Paul Mannion on this occasion.
Ten All-Star nominations is a fair enough reflection on our season but the one glaring omission from the list is Alan Freeman who had an excellent championship this year and who ahead of the final was in pole position to claim the full-forward slot on the All-Star team. How he’s ended up without even a nomination – when the likes of Colm McFadden and Michael Newman have made the cut in that line – is beyond me and it’s obvious that the inexplicable way he was subbed so early in the final has cost him a shot at an All-Star.
Aside from that, the list looks okay from our perspective. In terms of likely winners, I’d say we’re on course for five (one more than we got last year) with Keith, Lee and Cillian cast-iron certainties, Boyler not far behind (though the media love-in with Jack McCaffrey could unfairly cost him), the O’Shea brothers, Ger Caff and Donie all in the hunt while Robbie and Chris aren’t going to make it any further. I’d say it’ll be Keith, Lee, Colm, Aidan and Cillian.
In the Player of the Year category, I’d say that Lee is unlikely to win out over the two Dublin lads. It’s hard to know which of them will do it but I’ve a feeling that MDMA might get the nod there. Having finished as top scorer in this year’s championship, Cillian definitely deserves to claim the Young Player award for an incredible third year in a row but if Baby Faced Jack doesn’t get onto the All-Star team (and I don’t think he will whereas Cillian is certain to) then I’d say he’ll end up getting this award instead.
The full list of nominations is here. This year it’s the turn of the football awards to be announced on the night and that night is Friday, 8th November at the All-Star banquet in Croke Park.