AIB Club Football Championship Team of the Year
31 Mar 2017
Posted in: Club
It's a Dr Croke's wonderland, after 25 long years of waiting.Their March 17 win over Slaughtneil merited one-third of their line-up comprising our AIB club football team of the year.The Gooch's goal settled the decider, meaning he was always hotly-tipped to make the side. Fionn Fitzgerald, an All-Ireland winning captain with Kerry in 2014, manned the defence with the sort of patience and class that we've come to expect.
Johnny Buckley might have broken the AIB Munster Cup on the day that Crokes won the province but the captain kept them together in midfield when the going got tough. While Brian Looney at wing-forward scored 0-2 that day and tapped over a hat-trick of scores on the biggest day of all.
Without three goals from Daithi Casey in the Munster final win over The Nire, the Killarney men might never have made it so far.
Michael Savage continues to play the waiting game for Dublin as Stephen Cluxton minds the net but the 30-year-old has been a key man for the Marino side for the best part of a decade. His save from a Ruairi McNamee penalty in the Leinster final win over Rhode was a standout moment.
Kieran Fitzgerald has won 11 Galway SFC titles with Corofin and his leadership was hugely important en route to more Galway and Connacht glory.
Westport were relegated from senior football in 2014 but they had the reigning Footballer of the Year in their ranks. Lee Keegan, at just 27 years of age, was the Mayo side's oldest player in their All-Ireland IFC final win over St Colmcille's. Two goals from corner-forward Oisín McLoughlin proved to be the difference.
The Meath side had been powered by county star Graham Reilly, who scored 0-4 in the Leinster final win over Rosemount.
But for the red card to his midfield partner, perhaps Patsy Bradley would be part of an All-Ireland final winning team. He had an exceptional season leading the Slaughtneil boys to Ulster glory and another Paddy's Day appearance.
Is there a more totemic figure in club GAA than Chrissy McKaigue though? An inspiration all through, a man who speaks with a refreshing openness in the media, and whose quality was summed up in one afternoon. From centre-back, he held Diarmuid Connolly to 0-1 and scored 0-4 himself — that's unheard of.
Beside him, Frances McEldowney was a key man while Brendan Rodgers — the excellent targetman for their hurling side — held the square exceptionally well.
Finally, Darran O'Sullivan completes the line-up, partly for his wondergoal against Louisburgh, but also for 1-3 in the All-Ireland junior final win over The Rock — the final score coming despite a quad injury.
A memorable year for a memorable 15.
1. Michael Savage - St Vincents
2. Brendan Rodgers - Slaughtneil
3. Kieran Fitzgerald – Corofin
4. Fionn Fitzgerald - Dr Crokes
5. Lee Keegan - Westport
6. Chrissy McKaigue - Slaughtneil
7. Frances McEldowney - Slaughtneil
8. Johnny Buckley - Dr Crokes
9. Patsy Bradley - Slaughtneil
10. Brian Looney – Dr. Crokes
11. Colm Cooper - Dr Crokes
12. Graham Reilly – St. Colmcilles
13. Darran O'Sullivan - Glenbeigh Glencarr
14. Daithi Casey - Dr Crokes
15. Oisín McLoughlin - Westport