Team of the All-Ireland Championship: Standout performers in 2019

After Dublin completed the ‘drive for five’, we select our team of the championship for 2019.

1. Stephen Cluxton (Dublin)

Despite being the standout goalkeeper of the decade, the Parnells man hasn’t received an All-Star since 2013. That’s certainly going to change this season. His kick-outs were characteristically on point all seasons, while he made some stunning saves in both games against Kerry.

2. Tom O’Sullivan (Kerry)

The Kingdom’s go-to defender, O’Sullivan has been impressive across the balance of the season. The Dingle man has kept numerous opponents scoreless, and was key as Kerry reached the All-Ireland final.

3. Ronan McNamee (Tyrone)

A string of understated yet thoroughly efficient defensive performances from McNamee should see him pick up a first All-Star award.

4. Michael Fitzsimons (Dublin)

The Cuala man saved his best to last – putting in two massive performances against Kerry. Fitzsimons did a job nullifying David Clifford in the second-half of the drawn game, while he was watertight throughout the replay.

5. Donal Keogan (Meath)

Keogan was key in what was a hugely successful 2019 season for Meath. The Royals backed up their Division 1 promotion with a Super 8s berth, and didn’t look out of their depth at any point. He was industrious in both defence and attack, and his showing against Clare in the qualifiers was perhaps his standout display.

6. Paddy Durcan (Mayo)

Durcan was tasked with nullifying some of the country’s best players this season, and carried out a thorough job for James Horan. He limited the influence of Shane Walsh, Ryan McHugh and Jack McCaffrey in big games, and scored 0-8 from play throughout the summer.

7. Jack McCaffrey (Dublin)

In the drawn final, he was simply immense as he bagged 1-3. The former Footballer of the Year was instrumental as the Dubs sealed five in a row. The Clontarf man was his usual, lively self up and down the wing, and is deserving of another All-Star.

8. Brian Fenton (Dublin)

Fenton had a bad day at the office in the first game against Kerry, but bounced back in style. The reigning Footballer of the Year delivered some powerful performances throughout the year, spearheading the wins over Cork, Roscommon and Mayo.

9. David Moran (Kerry)

Moran’s contributions in the Killarney win over Mayo were perhaps enough to seal an All-Star just by itself. His aerial prowess was key for the Kingdom, and the Kerins O’Rahilly’s man’s supply into the inside forwards was top notch. He led the Kerry charge in both games against Dublin.

10. Con O’Callaghan (Dublin)

O’Callaghan took another step up in 2019, adding new elements to his game. He was a real target in the Dublin inside forward line, showing the damage he can do in the wins over Roscommon and Mayo in particular. The Cuala man is in the mix for the Footballer of the Year award.

11. Seán O’Shea (Kerry)

The young Kenmare star came of age in 2019. Kicking 0-15 across two All-Ireland finals is no mean feat, and he looks like a player who’s only going to get better. He just shades it ahead of Michael Murphy of Donegal.

12. Stephen O’Brien (Kerry)

Coming into the final, he was a candidate for Footballer of the Year, such was his consistency throughout the year for the Kingdom. He dug Peter Keane’s side out of a hole in the Munster final, and continued to put in telling performances. His interjection in the second-half against Tyrone swung the game in Kerry’s favour. He didn’t manage to bring that level into the final, but is nonetheless deserving of an All-Star. He shades it ahead of Brian Howard.

13. David Clifford (Kerry)

In what was just his second season at senior intercounty football, the Fossa star continued his remarkable form. The 20-year-old stood up when he was needed all summer, with some truly special performances.

14. Cathal McShane (Tyrone)

The top scorer in the championship, McShane scored 3-48 in nine games for the Red Hands. For large parts of the season, he was unplayable, and is one of the first names on this team sheet.

15. Paul Mannion (Dublin)

The Kilmacud Crokes man found himself in more offensive positions this season, and was hugely effective as a result. Perhaps the front-runner for Footballer of the Year.

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