Pat Spillane selects his best Gaelic Football XV this century
This is just my team, my opinion, but I make no apologies for the fact that there are many Kerrymen in the line-up, as the Kingdom have starred in 11 of the 16 Finals played so far this century.
Mayo, with four appearances in Sam Maguire deciders, are next in that list, but I have no Mayo men on my XV. Then again, Mayo lost every final.
There’s only one Dubin player in the team, but if I were to do this list again in 2020, then I suspect that would change.
The Dubs have the possibility of winning two or three of the next five All-Irelands and that would bring lads like Rory O’Carroll, James McCarthy, Jack McCaffrey, Paul Flynn and Diarmuid Connolly right into contention for the team.
So here goes with Spillane’s best team from 2000 to 2015...
Stephen Cluxton (Dublin)
Quite simply the Dublin captain has redefined the position of goalkeeper on Gaelic football teams. Honourable mentions go to Diarmuid Murphy of Kerry and Armagh’s Paul Hearty.
Marc Ó Sé (Kerry) Seamus Moynihan (Kerry) and Sean Marty Lockhart (Derry)
That gives me two superb man-markers in the corner and the most intelligent player to play the game between them. Unlucky to miss out were Ryan McMenamin (Tyrone) and Keith Higgins (Mayo).
Tomás Ó Sé (Kerry) Kieran McGeeney (Armagh) and Philip Jordan (Tyrone)
They got in ahead of Glenn Ryan (Kildare), Graham Canty of Cork, Mayo’s Lee Keegan, Conor Gormley of Tyrone and Dublin’s Cian O’Sullivan.
Sean Cavanagh (Tyrone) and Darragh Ó Sé (Kerry)
This was straightforward enough for me, even though Paul McGrane (Armagh), Kildare’s Dermot Earley, Dublin hero Ciaran Whelan and lately Kerry’s David Moran were all excellent players.
Brian Dooher (Tyrone), Michael Murphy (Donegal) and Declan O’Sullivan (Kerry).
I’m very happy with my choice, even if it means leaving out Connolly and Flynn, Paul Galvin (Kerry), Ciaran McDonald of Mayo and Westmeath star Dessie Dolan.
Colm Cooper (Kerry), Peter Canavan (Tyrone) and Stevie McDonnell (Armagh).
This was, by a distance, the toughest line of the team to pick.
I know, I’m leaving out Dublin’s Brogan brothers, two wonderful players from ‘lesser’ counties in Matty Forde (Wexford) and Tipperary’s Declan Browne, and three heroes of Ulster football in Stephen O’Neill (Tyrone), Benny Coulter (Down) and Oisín McConville (Armagh).