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no joys in blue All-Star football nominations revealed: Dublin with lowest haul since 2010 as Tyrone get ‘full house’

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Lee Keegan of Mayo and Conor Meyler of Tyrone have been nominated for PwC GAA/GPA Footballer of the Year. Credit: Sportsfile

Lee Keegan of Mayo and Conor Meyler of Tyrone have been nominated for PwC GAA/GPA Footballer of the Year. Credit: Sportsfile

Lee Keegan of Mayo and Conor Meyler of Tyrone have been nominated for PwC GAA/GPA Footballer of the Year. Credit: Sportsfile

Fallen All-Ireland champions Dublin have received their lowest number of All-Star nominations for 11 years.

Just five members of Dessie Farrell’s Sky Blue squad have been included in the 45-man shortlist from which the 2021 PwC football All-Stars will be chosen in December.

Tyrone lead the way with 15 nominees including goal-scoring super-sub Cathal McShane – proof that All-Star history is invariably written by the winners.

Dublin have dominated football’s official ‘team of the year’ in eight of the last ten seasons but, after their underwhelming Leinster title defence was followed by a spectacular semi-final crash to Mayo, their haul of five nominees is the smallest since four Sky Blues were shortlisted in 2010.

The handful of Dubs left vying for an award are Mick Fitzsimons and Brian Howard, both listed in defence; midfielder Brian Fenton and attacking duo Ciarán Kilkenny and Cormac Costello.

Costello has never received an All Star whereas the other four are multiple winners. Kilkenny is viewed as the most likely Dub to make the final cut – but this year’s team is sure to be on radically different lines after Tyrone banished their Covid-19 blues to topple Kerry and then Mayo.

The three nominees for Footballer of the Year are ultra-flexible Tyrone duo Kieran McGeary and Conor Meyler along with decorated Mayo veteran Lee Keegan.

Keegan previously won the award in 2016, again as an All-Ireland runner-up, pipping Dublin duo Brian Fenton and Ciarán Kilkenny for the ultimate individual accolade.

This year’s winner will be chosen in a vote by their playing peers – as will the Young Footballer of the Year, from a shortlist of Mayo’s Oisín Mullin (who won the award last year), Galway’s Matthew Tierney and Tyrone impact sub Darragh Canavan, son of the legendary Peter.

Tyrone’s spectacular rise to the summit at the business end of a drama-filled season is reflected in the inclusion of 15 of their players.

The odd Tyrone man out from their All-Ireland line-up is Michael O’Neill, who fails to make the 45-strong shortlist revealed today.

Seven Red Hand performers are nominated in defence – a measure of their flexibility.

The freshly-minted champions are almost certain to lead the way in the final All-Stars selection when it is chosen by a panel of GAA journalists and announced on December 10, and not just because they dominate the nominations list.

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Beaten finalists Mayo have eight nominees, one more than Munster kingpins Kerry, while vanquished six-in-a-row champions Dublin have just five - their lowest representation since 2010.

Eleven counties are represented in a relatively healthy spread – given the constraints of a truncated league and straight knockout championship – with three from Monaghan, two from Armagh, and one apiece from Cork, Clare, Donegal, Galway and Kildare.

Intriguingly, two sets of brothers are included – Kerry forwards David and Paudie Clifford, along with Armagh’s Oisín and Rian O’Neill.

The Cork nominee is defender Seán Meehan, who kept David Clifford scoreless from play even in the midst of a Munster final rout, while there is reward for the eye-catching forward contributions of Clare’s Eoin Cleary, Donegal’s Michael Langan, Galway’s Shane Walsh and Kildare’s Daniel Flynn.

PWC ALL-STARS FOOTBALL NOMINATIONS 2021

Goalkeepers – Niall Morgan (Tyrone), Rob Hennelly (Mayo), Rory Beggan (Monaghan)

Defenders – Pádraig Hampsey, Peter Harte, Michael McKernan, Ronan McNamee, Conor Meyler, Kieran McGeary, Frank Burns (all Tyrone); Lee Keegan, Patrick Durcan, Pádraig O’Hora, Stephen Coen (all Mayo); Tom O’Sullivan, Gavin White, Brian Ó Beaglaoich (all Kerry); Mick Fitzsimons, Brian Howard (both Dublin); Seán Meehan (Cork), Ryan McAnespie (Monaghan)

Midfielders – Brian Kennedy, Conn Kilpatrick (both Tyrone); Matthew Ruane (Mayo), David Moran (Kerry), Oisín O’Neill (Armagh), Brian Fenton (Dublin)

Forwards – Niall Sludden, Conor McKenna, Darren McCurry, Mattie Donnelly, Cathal McShane (all Tyrone); Seán O’Shea, Paudie Clifford, David Clifford (all Kerry); Ryan O’Donoghue, Tommy Conroy (both Mayo); Ciarán Kilkenny, Cormac Costello (both Dublin); Rian O’Neill (Armagh), Eoin Cleary (Clare), Michael Langan (Donegal), Jack McCarron (Monaghan), Shane Walsh (Galway), Daniel Flynn (Kildare)

PWC GAA/GPA FOOTBALLER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES Conor Meyler, Kieran McGeary (both Tyrone); Lee Keegan (Mayo)

PWC GAA/GPA YOUNG FOOTBALLER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES – Matthew Tierney (Galway), Oisín Mullin (Mayo), Darragh Canavan (Tyrone)

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