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Comment & Analysis | Sport

Highlights & heroes of GAA football Championship 2013

Colm Cooper
Colm Cooper in action

Player of the year

1 Colm Cooper (Kerry): Not nominated for the actual award, but we defy you to argue that there was a better pure GAA footballer in the game. He delivered a peach of a goal against Cork and a masterclass when it was most required, against Dublin.

2 Michael Darragh Macauley (Dublin): Strange to have a footballer of the year contender whose disposal of the ball close to the opposition’s goal is so often, well, brutal. But that he can be held in such high esteem despite that weakness tells us that Macauley’s energy and positioning and agility are perhaps without equal.

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3 Stephen Cluxton (Dublin): His team’s best player when it counted most.

Dublin's Jack McCaffrey
Dublin’s Jack McCaffrey is a rising star

Young player of the year

1 Jack McCaffrey (Dublin): Being outplayed by Kevin McLoughlin in the final should not detract from his goal against Cork or brilliance against Kildare.

2 Cillian O’Connor (Mayo): Assessments of his All-Ireland final performance have been too harsh.

3 Paul Mannion (Dublin): A stellar debut season; the challenge next year is to stamp his authority on the very biggest games.

mickey harte-n
Tyrone’s manager Mickey Harte impressed this season

Manager of the year

1 Mickey Harte (Tyrone): Perhaps a controversial choice. But Tyrone were superb against Dublin in the league final, then rose from a desperately disappointing loss to Donegal to win three hard-core championship matches in rapid succession before giving Mayo their fill for half of the All-Ireland semi. Those victories over Kildare, Meath and Monaghan were a testament to their manager’s resilience and tactical nous.

2 Jim Gavin (Dublin): Job done, as the man himself put it.

3 Paul Coggins (London): Taking London to two championship victories and two honourable defeats despite the inherent difficulties that come with managing a football team in the English capital is a wonderful achievement.

Game of the year

1 Dublin 3-18 Kerry 3-11: Some observers lost the run of themselves in evaluating this game in the immediate aftermath. It was well short of being the best game ever but it was a hell of an entertaining contest.

2 Dublin 0-18 Tyrone 0-17: The Dubs’ first league title in 20 years, remember, and it was a pulsating game, the Red Hands playing like men possessed and the champions-in-waiting finding a response.

3 Down 2-17 Derry 1-15: More high-scoring mayhem, Eoin Bradley taking charge of the first half, the victors running the second in typically fluent style.


Stephen Cluxton lifts the Sam Maguire
Stephen Cluxton lifts the Sam Maguire

Team of the year

1 Stephen Cluxton (Dublin): Phenomenal belief in his own accuracy.

2 Colin Walshe (Monaghan): Brilliant against Cavan and Donegal. An honourable mention here for Cavan’s Killian Clarke.

3 Rory O’Carroll (Dublin): A better player than Ger Cafferkey, for our money.

4 Keith Higgins (Mayo): One of those rare footballers who could probably play all 13 outfield positions.

5 Lee Keegan (Mayo): Our All-Ireland final man of the match.

6 Conor Gormley (Tyrone): Who knew the old warrior had another great season in him?

7 James McCarthy (Dublin): Others might have stood out more in some games but McCarthy was consistently and quietly excellent.

Mayo's Aidan O'Shea.
Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea.

8 Aidan O’Shea (Mayo): He had a bad final, but let us not forget his incredible dominance against Donegal.

9 Michael Darragh Macauley (Dublin): Along with Cluxton, the player most central to Dublin’s gameplan.

10 Cian Mackey (Cavan): Good enough to edge out Paul Flynn, and there are few higher compliments for a number 10.

11 Colm Cooper (Kerry): Further cemented his place among the very best that have played the game.

12 Sean Cavanagh (Tyrone): Looked a potential footballer of the year up to the semi-final.

13 Cillian O’Connor (Mayo): The championship’s top scorer.

14 Diarmuid Connolly (Dublin): Way out of position but this was the season when Connolly cashed in his potential, so he must be accommodated.

15 Bernard Brogan (Dublin): We’d normally frown on one outstanding game earning a player a place on the best 15 of the season, but there were signs of improvement before his crucial interventions in late September.


Eamonn O Molloy

Eamonn O'Molloy is Gaelic Football columnist withThe Irish Post. Follow him on Twitter @EamonnOMolloy

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