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25th Jul 2022

Why James McCarthy should not have been in The Sunday game’s All-Star team

Lee Costello

Tom O’Sullivan? John Daly?

First thing is first, James McCarthy is a once in a generation type of player who has achieved things beyond the imagination of even the most ambitious and talented Gaelic footballers.

Eight All-Ireland titles in the pocket and at 32 years old, he is absolutely crucial to this Dublin team. His performance against Kerry was truly inspirational.

The Ballymun Kickhams star is genuinely in the argument to be the greatest player in the history of his county – a county which boasts the best team that the GAA has ever seen.

It’s impossible to oversell or exaggerate his contribution to the game or indeed his eternal status as an all-time great, but the simple fact is that James McCarthy should not have been on The Sunday Game’s All-Star team.

There were a few decisions that certainly raised eyebrows – such as playing Rian O’Neill in midfield just to shoehorn in more forwards – and it isn’t so much the inclusion of McCarthy that is wrong, but the omission of other players who should have been there instead.

In their wisdom, the pundits decided not to include Tom O’Sullivan, a player who has been the main man in Kerry’s defence this season.

A man of the match performance against Mayo not only saw the flying corner-back curtail Cillian O’Connor – the top scorer in championship history – but he even kicked three points from play himself.

In yesterday’s final he was tasked to mark Shane Walsh and undoubtedly struggled as the Galway star mustered up the performance of his life, but in that sort of form, no defender was going to stop him.

The Kerryman still did enough to make sure that his team won the All-Ireland, which of course is the point of it all, and his fantastic conditioning meant that in the last 10 minutes, when the game was in the melting pot, he managed to get to grips with the challenge in front of him.

If you’re going to use the argument that a poor final is the reason he wasn’t included, then Damien Comer should have been omitted from the team as well.

Of course, they both deserve to be in it, and despite putting in an inspirational shift against the eventual champions in the semi-final, McCarthy just didn’t play enough to get this All-Star.

Struggling with injury throughout this season, the Dublin defender even missed the quarter-final win against Cork and was a late inclusion to the team that played Kerry.

When you compare that with the likes of Conor Glass who helped Derry win their first Ulster title since 1998, or Paul Conroy who was sensational in the Connacht championship and right through to the final, then it’s hard to see where the RTÉ pundits managed to fit McCarthy in.

John Daly should also feel very hard done by; everything that was great about Comer’s semi-final masterclass against Derry was started off by the centre half-back, as his kick passing has been a revelation for Padraig Joyce’s team this season.

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