The best 15 footballers of the National Football League 1 year ago

The best 15 footballers of the National Football League

Football isn't dead.

Just look at Cavan and Roscommon's eight goal thriller to decide the destination of the Division Two title. While the narrative still very much revolves around defensive tactics in the gaelic football sphere, these two showed that attacking football can still exist.

The League treated us to some enthralling entertainment over the last three months. From Kevin McLoughlin's last minute clutch point to keep Mayo up to Cavan and Fermanagh sealing promotion with the last kick of the ball in their games.

Dublin's dominance continues at the top tier but Galway are a coming force. Monaghan are still hanging around while Kerry and Tyrone have room to improve.

Tipperary aren't far off and neither are Roscommon. Kildare are struggling and so are Cork.

Amidst all the chaos of the postponements, re fixtures and weather delays, some individuals rose above it all with their performances.

Here were the best of them.

1. Goalkeeper - Rory Beggan (Monaghan)

It says a lot when a goalkeeper is being used as one of his county's most important attackers. Rory 'Torpedo' Beggan is exactly that, with the Scotstown man's heat-seeking missiles the launchpad for attack after attack for the Farney army.

His isn't a one-dimensional game, though. The man who's versatility knows no bounds is comfortable on the ball and will be seen roaming forward often.

Oh, and he's a decent shot stopper too.

2. Right corner back - Jonny Cooper (Dublin)

You want your defenders to be mean, to be tigerish and to be fiery, the Na Fianna man is every one of those and more. He'll nag, vex and torment forwards to desperation station.

Plays the game on the edge and whether you like it or not, he's Dublin's most important defender and one of the best in the country at his job.

3. Full back - Sean Andy O'Ceallaigh (Galway)

The rock at the heart of the hardest defence in the competition.

4. Left corner back - David Murray (Roscommon)

The Rossies' vice captain was solid throughout. Not afraid to get forward either and his goal in the decider against Cavan showed he's well able for it.

5. Right half back - Bill Maher (Tipperary)

In one of the most aesthetically pleasing teams in the country, Tipperary's rampaging half back is the pick of the lot. The Kilsheelan Kilcash man will run all day long and into the night without getting tired.

So much so that wing forwards end up marking him. Always good for a score too.

6. Centre back - Ciaran Brady (Cavan)

Cavan's normally foolproof defensive structure may have been exposed on Sunday, but that was just a strange game shouldn't take away from Brady's dominant displays up to that point. Some man to hold the centre and dictate a game.

7. Left half back - Paul Murphy (Kerry)

Mr consistent for the Kingdom. At times you just think this man should be playing at half forward such is his calmness and threat when on the ball but he makes Eamon Fitzmaurice's side tick and his displays were crucial to them staying up in a mediocre campaign.

8. Midfield - Brian Fenton (Dublin)

So untouchable in the engine room. When the Raheny man gets on the ball you just know he'll make the right choice. Set the Dubs in motion with a machine like display against Kildare in their first game out, he kept that momentum going the whole way through.

9. Midfield - Mattie Donnelly (Tyrone)

A man at home in the middle of the park. There's little his game is lacking with another solid campaign put down.

10. Right half forward - Andrew Murnin (Armagh)

Stood up when it mattered most with a late goal to tip the Division 3 final in the Orchard county's favour but that green flag, and a man-of-the-match performance, was only the culmination of a dazzling League campaign for Murnin.

11. Centre forward - Ciaran Kilkenny (Dublin)

Ran the show for Dublin game after game enroute to Division One glory. So calm in possession, so explosive when he needs to be. Notched 2-18 from play in a sensational campaign that surely saw him shed his previous label as a sideways footballer.

The Player of the League.

12. Left half forward - John Heslin (Westmeath)

The Lake County will be disappointed not to have budged from Division Three but John Heslin gets a free pass for that. The St Loman's club man has been one of this country's most consistent footballers for so long now and this League was no different.

13. Right corner forward - Paddy McBrearty (Donegal)

For periods during the League, Donegal's corner forward appeared to be at one with Gaelic Football. His left foot made the ball talk, his speed off the mark and bullock-like strength made defenders stand off him. Some of his points were from a different planet. Donegal may have been relegated but don't blame their Kilcare danger man for that.

Did things like this.

14. Full forward - Damien Comer (Galway)

This man re-defines the word beast. Like a bull amongst calves, an over-fed toddler, like a man against boys, Galway's giant at number 14 makes every battle he faces appear to be a physical mis-match. So aggressive and hungry, but he also has plenty of class about him.

The most destructive inside man in the game right now.

15. Left corner forward - Lee Brennan (Tyrone)

Brennan will lull you into a false sense of security with his lackadaisical ways and then pounce when he has you wrapped around his finger. So comfortable on the ball and a natural born finisher too. It was about time he got his shot and he's more than taken it.


Ruairi Lavelle (Galway)

Daniel Flynn (Kildare)

Seamus Quigley (Fermanagh)

Dara McVeety (Cavan)

Conor Sweeney (Tipperary)

Michael Quinlivan (Tipperary)

Brian Howard (Dublin)

Diarmuid Murtagh (Roscommon)

Eoin O'Donoghue (Mayo)

Daniel St Ledger (Carlow)

Karl O'Connell (Monaghan)