As many as eight Dublin players have been selected in the Team Of The Year by the RTE Sunday Game panel
The capital is still celebrating after Jim Gavin’s men became the first Dublin team in history to win four All Ireland Football Championships back to back. And as the sun went down on Dublin city last night Des Cahill held court in the RTE studio as the panel selected their Team Of The Year.
Colm Cooper, Sean Cavanagh, Tomas O’Se, Ciaran Whelan, Owen Mulligan, Michael Murphy, and Lee Keegan deliberated and chose their best 15 in the championship.
Dublin lead the line with eight players chosen. Monaghan and Tyrone received two spots each, with the remainder being shared among Donegal, Galway and Kerry.
Dublin’s Ciaran Kilkenny was chosen as The Sunday Game’s Player Of the Year, and credit must also be given to Tomas O’Se on the panel for highlighting Stephen Cluxton for being continuously overlooked for the big awards, purely because he’s consistently good.
So here are the selected 15 players that the RTE panel have chosen as their 2018 Team Of The Year.
Stephen Cluxton (Dublin) – Goalkeeper
The first team captain to ever lift the Sam Maguire five times really explains just how good Stephen has been and continues to be. As Colm Cooper admits, Cluxton seems to get better with age. 26 of 28 kickouts in yesterday’s final went to Dublin possession. Stephen is the backbone of the Dublin team and a fantastic leader. In two weeks time Stephen turns 37, but hopefully the Parnells man will stick around to help Dublin compete for a fifth consecutive All Ireland.
Jonny Cooper (Dublin) – Full Back Line
Sean Cavanagh described Jonny as Dublin’s top defensive player. Whether it’s inside, out on the half back line, or as a sweeper, Cooper is an all rounder. And this year Jonny has been immense for his county. The Na Fianna man had some tough encounters, and regularly receive some rough treatment on the field. But he now seems to let it roll off his back. Cooper is definitely one player deserving of his 2018 Celtic Cross.
Padraig Hampsey (Tyrone) – Full Back Line
One of two selection for the All Ireland Finalists, Hampsey was certainly on form yesterday for Tyrone. A true warrior who’s put out so many fires for his side this year and last year. Cavanagh openly admits his side could have done with two or three of him yesterday.
Eoghan Ban Gallagher (Donegal) – Full Back Line
Killybegs star Gallagher really was instrumental in Donegal regaining the Ulster Championship this year. A player well know for his darting runs out of defence, and they quote often prove fruitful. And he definitely wasn’t just chosen because Michael Murphy wanted a Donegal player in the final selection.
Karl O’Connell (Monaghan) – Half Back Line
O’Connells decision to switch his focus from athletics to Gaelic Football has again reaped the benefits for Monaghan. The wing-back has gotten vital scores for the men from the Farney county and has become Mr. Dependable. Monaghan would have got out of Croke Park against Kildare this year without him.
James McCarthy (Dublin) – Half Back Line
The Leader. The Bossman. McCarthy again had a stellar year in blue. And no one is more deserving of six All Ireland medals. His goal against Tyrone in their Super 8 clash in Omagh was the difference between the sides at full time. Dogged to the end, James certainly didn’t let losing out on the Player of the Year last year affect his game.
Jack McCaffrey (Dublin) – Half Back Line
Twelve months is a long time in Football, and Jack McCaffrey proved that yesterday on the grandest stage. From being taken off with a cruciate injury the 2017 final to being named Man Of The Match yesterday, James has come full circle and seems as fast and as powerful as ever. He was the one Dublin player who took the fight to Tyrone during that crucial first-half period yesterday.
Brian Fenton (Dublin) – Midfield
Physically imposing and still unbeaten in his Championship career, Brian Fenton once again gets the nod in midfield. Ciaran Whelan described Brian as Dublin’s Madra Mór in the centre of the park. And again Fenton has had an unbelievable year, adding a bit more scoring to his arsenal.
Colm Cavanagh (Tyrone) – Midfield
Not at his best in the final and against the Dubs in Omagh, but Cavanagh still played in large part in getting Tyrone to a first All-Ireland final appearance in ten years. Colm was certainly a driving force behind Tyrone this year. Ciaran Whelan believes Cavanagh was the main man for the red hand county.
Shane Walsh (Galway) – Half Forward Line
Galway made huge strides in 2018, finishing as table toppers in the Allianz League Division 1, and reaching an All Ireland Semi Final. Walsh has always shown a lot of promise but definitely came through 2018 with flying colours.
Ciaran Kilkenny (Dublin) – Half Forward Line
Genuinely think if Ciaran Kilkenny doesn’t receive the GAA/GPA Award this year, there’s something categorically wrong in the selection process. From play Ciaran scored more than anyone in the Championship, and remains the orchestrator of Dublin’s attack. Improves and becomes even more vital with every passing year.
Brian Howard (Dublin) – Half Forward Line
Every year Jim Gavin finds a player to blood into the panel that has that extra something. In 2018 it was definitely Brian Howard. The Raheny man put in some amazing shift this year and was one of the stand out player for Dublin in the Championship. He’s sure to challenge David Clifford for the 2018 Young Player Of The Year.
Paul Mannion (Dublin) – Full Forward Line
The Kilmacud man has probably had his best year since he became a member of Jim Gavin’s side. And Paul was outstanding yesterday. It’s as if Tyrone bring out the best in him as he was superb in Omagh last month. To get up after a serious challenge and convert your own penalty just speaks volumes and capped off a great year for Mannion
Conor McManus (Monaghan) – Full Forward Line
You really couldn’t look past McManus as he’s still one of the best forwards in the country. His performances against Tyrone in the Ulster Championship and Kerry in the Super 8’s helped guide Monaghan to a valuable semi final outing, only to fall just short of an All Ireland Final spot.
David Clifford (Kerry) – Full Forward Line
Clifford seamlessly made the transition to senior level. The 19-year-old saved Kerry’s bacon against Monaghan – the standout performer in a mixed summer for the Kingdom. Clifford should get the nod as Young Player Of the Year, but he’ll get stiff competition from Brian Howard.