The Connacht Football Final takes place this week, and with Leinster and Ulster the following Sunday, all thoughts will begin to turn to the serious business.
Round two of the qualifiers kicks in this Saturday and Sunday and before we know it, the number of teams will eventually be whittle down to the final eight. To think, August 6th really isn’t that far away.

What eight teams will be still standing for this year’s All Ireland Senior Football Quarter Finals? And of those teams, what strengths will they all bring?
This week, the Irish Examiner put together a panel of columnists to look at the forwards in the current game, choose their three favourites and their reasons why.

From this panel, three of Dublin’s powerful forward line emerged. Ciaran Kilkenny, Bernard Brogan, and of course Diarmuid Connolly.

The panel was made up of Kerry’s Dara Ó Cinnéide, Former Tipp forward Declan Browne, Armagh All Ireland winner Oisín McConville, and of course Dublin legend Tomás Quinn.

Three of the four writers chose on form Monaghan forward Conor McManus in their selection and rightly so. There’s no denying McManus’ capabilities, accuracy, and adaptability. Dublin fans will remember the forward scoring 0-12 of Monaghan’s 0-16 tally in Croke Park back in February in their Allianz League tie. Tomás Quinn even labelled him “the complete inside forward”.

But Dublin’s three stars spread the selection with an array of compliments.

Ciaran Kilkenny:

Chosen by Dara Ó Cinnéide, saying there’s none to rival Kilkenny for his temperament and imperturbability. An excellent mover of the ball, never phased by much. Doesn’t rise to a bang or a knock, and should a shot not go in his favour it’s back to position and go again.

Bernard Brogan:

Again chosen by Ó Cinnéide, and also by Oisin McConville, the now veteran forward Brogan gets due praise not only for his scoring ability but for how he has over the years adapted and become such an integral part of Dublin’s plan.

“Five years ago, it may have been all about Bernard but he’s changed his game to become more of an asset to the team other than just scoring” Says McConville. Ó Cinnéide still sees Bernard as the “out and out outstanding forward in the game. He is economical in both his running and shooting. Every run has a purpose, every run carries effect.”

Diarmuid Connolly:

McConville, joined by Tomás Quinn, choose Dublin’s jewel in the crown. Describing Connolly as the most natural footballer playing the game today, Quinn admits Diarmuid “could be picked anywhere from 10-15 and perform at an elite level.” But it’s Oisin McConville who probably puts it best into words…

“People often say Diarmuid Connolly is like a Rolls Royce but it’s true,” he explains “the way he glides across the ground. He plays at a different level to other and at times it’s a different game he plays to everyone else. The majority of the time he’s able to play on his own terms without opponents getting so much as their fingers on him. He has that raw ability still.”

The Irish Examiner’s Forwards Selection:

Dara Ó Cinnéide:
Bernard Brogan (Dublin)
Michael Murphy (Donegal)
Ciarán kilkenny (Dublin)

Declan Browne:
Conor McManus (Monaghan)
Paul Geaney (Kerry)
Peter Harte (Tyrone)

Oisin McConville:
Conor McManus (Monaghan)
Bernard Brogan (Dublin)
Diarmuid Connolly (Dublin)

Tomás Quinn:
Conor McManus (Monaghan)
Diarmuid Connolly (Dublin)
Michael Murphy (Donegal)