The 15 best footballers of the National Football League 2 years ago

The 15 best footballers of the National Football League

Well, that league campaign was pretty alright, wasn't it?

It turns out football isn't dead but, in fact, it's very damn enjoyable.

After a helter-skelter 10 weeks that saw Kildare and Galway reclaim seats at the top table, Tipperary win silverware and Dublin finally beaten, it's all systems go for the championship where new heroes will emerge and the plot will only thicken.

Let's be honest, come the summer, nobody will give a shit about what's just past in the league there but there were some outstanding performances across all four divisions that deserve recognition and here is the SportsJOE team of the league.

Three Kerry men, three Dubliners, two Monaghan players and two Donegal natives make the line-up with a spread of nine counties represented.

Stephen Cluxton (Dublin)

Still by far and away the best 'keeper in Ireland. His kicking expertise doesn't need going over again but he offered a refreshing reminder of his cat-like reflexes in the final too.

Philly McMahon (Dublin)

There was no job too big for him. The Ballymun man has been utterly commanding in the Dublin full back line - tough, uncompromising and relentless. His raids forward have been a key aspect for the capital too.

Mark Griffin (Kerry)

Swallowed up Dean Rock in the decider like he did to many a forward that stepped into his den. He's a tough man to get around if he gets a hand anywhere near you.

Drew Wylie (Monaghan)

A bull at the back. Hounding attackers with the smell of blood in his nostrils and comes steaming out of defence at the first glance of grass. Sometimes he doesn't even need that glance - if you're in his way, you'll probably be flattened.

Ryan McHugh (Donegal)

This does not need explaining.

Robbie Kiely (Tipperary)

It is unbelievable how many times this man gets on the ball and how many areas of the field he pops up in. A playmaking centre back, Kiely has his head up the whole time but by God he will run straight if he has to. Never seems to tire.

Tiernan McCann (Tyrone)

He's been striding up the pitch for Tyrone like a freight train but he doesn't even look like he's hitting third gear at times. The energy and power McCann injects into the Red Hand set up is frightening and he's kicked scores freely from half back.

David Moran (Kerry)

Perhaps the closest thing to Anthony Tohill this game has right now.

Brian Fenton (Dublin)

It's hard to believe this is just his third season with Dublin. Although he's finally lost a game, his effect is still monstrous. He's a scary runner going in both directions like his life depended on it and only Kerry could come close to suppressing him throughout the league.

Ciaran Thompson (Donegal)

The best left foot Brendan Devenney has seen, Thompson has been operating at midfield for Donegal but kicking scores from all sort of angles and distances that'd have you disbelieving it was real life. A real find who will make big noises in the championship.

Shane Walsh (Galway)

A playmaker, a runner, a worker, a finisher. Shane Walsh and his versatility, Shane Walsh and his deadly accuracy has been Galway's most important player as they stormed to the Division Two title.

Niall Kelly (Kildare)

Pacy, skillful and oh so electrifying. If one man didn't deserve to finish the season without silverware, this is the very man.

Paul Geaney (Kerry)

He owns Croke Park. He owns most defenders who have the audacity to try and stop him. Absolutely rampant throughout the league as Kerry tried new faces and coped with different injuries - he was the constant, the beautiful constant. Culminated with eight against Dublin in the final, half of which were from open play.

John Heslin (Westmeath)

The league's top scorer across all four divisions, Heslin proved with consummate ease that he was far, far too good for the bottom tier and there was simply no way the Westmeath attacker was ever going to be stopped.

Jack McCarron (Monaghan)

Conor McManus is not alone. Jack McCarron has recovered from a mountain of injuries and he's in the form of his life. His dismantling of poor Davy Byrne of Dublin announced to the rest of the country just exactly what this man is about. He has two feet, two excellent hands and an eye for the target like you wouldn't believe.


Niall Sludden (Tyrone)
Paddy Durcan (Mayo)
Ronan Shanahan (Kerry)
Paul Conroy (Galway)
Ger Egan (Westmeath)
Donnchadh Walsh (Kerry)
Donie Kingston (Laois)
Cillian O'Sullivan (Meath)
Conor Sweeney (Tipperary)

Bring on the summer.