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17th Jul 2018

All-Star team of players knocked out of the championship

Michael Corry

The Super 8s are underway and all eyes are focused on the remaining teams poised to make a run at Sam. As is usually the case, the end of year All-Star awards will most likely be shared among players representing these so-called super 8 teams.

But what about those sides who haven’t made it this far? When selecting our All-Star awards for 2018 can we really forget the Carlow rising? What about Laois’ impressive run to the Leinster final? Or Fermanagh’s first Ulster decider in 10 years.

At SportsJOE, we have decided to compile our own mid-season All-Star select, based purely on sides not contesting the inaugural super 8 series.

So here goes…

1 Graham Brody (Laois)

Quite possibly the best keeper on show throughout the entire championship to date. Brody has re-invented the role of ‘fly-keeper’ to great effect, he even popped up in the full forward line in their dramatic LSFC comeback against Westmeath. Add to that a string of saves in the Leinster final against Dublin. Probably the easiest choice of the lot here.

Steven Attride (Laois)

The Laois captain had a fantastic year playing between corner back and wing back. The driving force behind picking the O’Moore County up after a couple of bad years and dragging the team out of the basement division of the league. Unfortunately, a horrific double skull fracture brought a premature end to his season and stopped him leading the team into a first Leinster final in 11 years. Still a great year for the Killeshin club man whose bravery alone would get him into most inter-county sides.

Che Cullen (Fermanagh)

Rock solid all year as Fermanagh gained promotion to division 2, as well storming their way into the Ulster final with underdog victories over both Armagh and Monaghan. Cullen manned the edge of the square with absolute gusto. His performance in the Ulster semi-final against Monaghan was a sight to behold as he kept Conor McManus scoreless from play for the entire 70 minutes. His finest season in the green jersey to date.

Conor Lawlor (Carlow)

The Carlow rising gripped all of us this summer. League promotion for the first time in 33 years had the whole county on a high until talisman Brendan Murphy decided to spend the summer in the states. They rallied through to get all the way to a Leinster semi-final. Conor Lawlor was possibly the pick of the bunch all year. His marauding runs from corner back saw him cover every blade of grass on the pitch. He even popped up with a goal in the dying minutes to seal the win over Kildare, the counties most famous victory to date.

Michael Quinn (Longford)

The versatile Quinn has played all over the park for Longford since his return from his stint in the AFL with Essendon. He seemed settled this year a right-half back and was the lynchpin as they took a massive scalp over Meath in the Leinster championship. Following a defeat to Dublin in the semi-final, they were drawn against Kildare as they bid to win at least one qualifier game for the tenth year running. Unfortunately, they fell to a 3 point defeat, which does not look so bad now in hindsight.

Colm Begley (Laois)

He is one of the best players in the country. Simple as that. Begley was at the heart of everything good about the beaten Leinster finalists.  There has been plenty of debate over the years about where his best position on the pitch actually is. With a string of top performances this year, we would like to think that debate can be put to bed now. His diet probably had something to do with his and Laois’ great year.

Aidan Forker (Armagh)

Forker was a constant threat as Armagh made another terrific run through the qualifiers. Has played in both the half forward and half back line throughout his inter-county career, and is probably most well known in his home county for his full-forward exploits. The Maghery man drove Armagh forward through the league and championship with a string of top performances. Question marks over his discipline at times, but you simply cannot fault his efforts.

Eoin Donnelly (Fermanagh)

The towering Fermanagh captain was the hero of the hour as his last-gasp goal helped overcome a fancied Monaghan side in the Ulster semi-final. BBC pundit Oisin McConville called it a well executed planned move, Donnelly claimed he was knackered and found himself in the right place at the right time. We believe he was just being modest.

Ryan Jones (Fermanagh)

It seems you can’t have one without the other, and we agree. The Derrygonnelly club man was a colossal at midfield alongside his buddy all year long. Quite possibly the best midfield partnership in the country, he even provided the pass that led to Donnelly’s winning goal against Monaghan.

10 Rory Grugan (Armagh)

Armagh’s best player all season. Captain Grugan came up with a string of eye-catching performances as his county marched their way to round 4 of the qualifiers. Started on the bench against Fermanagh due to injury, despite coming on and kicking 0-3 it wasn’t enough to save his team. His finest game of the season was the dramatic late win over Clare where Grugan was the best player on show kicking 0-6.

11 Geróid McKiernan (Cavan)

Another solid year for the man that many see as Cavan’s best player. Has played a lot of football at both midfield and full forward, but was found hanging around the centre-forward berth this year. His performance against Tyrone despite a six-point defeat is probably enough to see the big man make it into our team. One score in particular where he plucked a Mickey O’Neill kickout from the sky and proceeded to take off and kick a score himself was one of the scores of the championship so far.

12 Kevin McLoughlin (Mayo) 

No All-Star side is complete without the Mayo contingent. Unfortunately for them, we can only accommodate one player into our mid-season select. In what was a disappointing year for the perennial challengers, Kevin McLoughlin stood out as their star performer all year long. In may have been in the final league game, but his booming effort with the final kick of the game to relegate Donegal was a gem of a score.

13 Paul Broderick (Carlow)

The Carlow rising was built on a solid defensive foundation, but that can only take you so far. They needed someone to get the scores. Step up to the plate, Paul Broderick. His 11 points against Kildare was the key that unlocked a famous victory and tales of his 10 surgeries in 10 years gave us an insight into a man who epitomised the heart and bravery that we came to associate with Carlow this year.

14 Paul Kingston (Laois)

Probably the lesser known of the Kingston brothers. That was until his hat-trick against Westmeath seen the Midlanders overcome a 10-point deficit to advance to a Leinster semi-final. Caused problems for Dublin alongside his brother in the final. A great year for the big guy Arles-Killeen.

15 Andrew Murnin (Armagh)

Injuries curtailed the early part of his inter-county career, but the big man from St.Pauls Lurgan has rediscovered some form that has seen him become the focal point Kieran McGeeney’s attacking plan. A very strong league campaign followed by some impressive performances throughout the qualifiers see’s him squeeze into our full-forward line. Was quiet against Clare, but stood up when needed and scored a goal which proved to be the catalyst for the Armagh revival.

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