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AIB GAA Club Football Team of the Year

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03 Apr 2019

Posted in:  Club

Now in their second year, the AIB GAA Club Players Awards come after a long season of chasing #TheToughest title of all; and an All-Ireland football final that was billed as a 'unification bout' between the two heavyweights who had won the last two finals.

Corofin joined the pantheon of club football greats by completing a two in-a-row which only three clubs - Crossmaglen (1999-2000, 2011-2012), St Finbarrs (1980-81) and UCD (1974-75) – had ever previously achieved.

That feat, and the manner of their victory, earns them seven places on the 2019 AIB GAA Club Football Team of the Year which also includes three apiece from beaten finalists Dr Crokes and first-time Ulster champions, Gaoth Dobhair.

The team is rounded out by two men from Mullinalaghta, the Longford 'half-parish', whose historic Leinster title epitomised the great democracy of this competition and showed every club in the country why anything is possible if you work hard and dream big.

 

FOOTBALL TEAM OF THE YEAR

1. Bernard Power

County: Galway.

Club: Corofin

Position: Goalkeeper

Corofin are known for 'total football' and interchangeable positions but everything starts with their defensive brilliance. That means Power does not have a lot of shot-stopping to do but his kickouts into space and his ability to carry the ball upfield, especially on St Patrick's Day, showed why he is such a thoroughly modern 'keeper.

 

2. Liam Silke

County: Galway.

Position: Corner-back.

This is a second club award in-a-row for Corofin's defensive ace who is not only silken by name but also in playing style. Liam regularly gets upfield to contribute points, like his curled gem against Gaoth Dobhair. But above all he is a key cog in a brilliant defence which held Ballintubber and Dr Crokes to just 10 scores apiece and conceded just three points from play to the latter in the All-Ireland final.

 

3. Patrick Fox – Mullinalaghta.

County: Longford.

Club: Mullinalaghata

Position: Full-back

The 'giantkiller' narrative around Mullinalaghta somewhat overshadowed the great quality of their football. Many of their best players, like Fox, play senior inter-county - and his man-marking job in the Leinster final was one of the great defensive performances of the competition.

 

4. Odhran McFadden-Ferry

County: Donegal.

Club: Gaoth Dobhair

Position: Wing-back.

Is he a wing-back, a corner-back, a midfielder or a half-forward? Who knows, because Odhran's ability to cover ground and make tigerish tackles make him a standout player for Gaoth Dobhair all over the park. That's why he was chosen to mark the opposition’s danger man in their thrilling extra-time Ulster final when he did such an outstanding job.

 

5. Kieran Molloy

County: Galway

Club: Corofin

Position: Wing-back

Even if he didn't have that distinctive ponytail, it would be difficult to ignore Molloy's contribution to both the Corofin defence and attack. Molloy is often praised for his barn-storming runs and refusal to give up on any 50/50 ball, but his ability to find teammates with inch-perfect foot-passes is equally good. His instinctive volleyed pass to set up Jason Leonard's goal on St Patrick's Day drew gasps from the crowd.

 

6. Gavin White

County: Kerry

Club: Dr Crokes

Position: Centre-back

White is also only 22 but remarkably mature and the reason he was an All Star nominee last year became obvious during Dr Crokes' run to their second final in three years. Not just for his defensive prowess but his ability to bomb forward, at top speed, to contribute to attack.

7. Donal McElligott

County: Longford

Club: Mullinalaghta

Main Position: Wing-back

Donal captained his county when they reached their first Leinster semi-final in nearly 40 years last summer, so it was no surprise to see him show similar leadership when Mullinalaghta became the first Longford side to contest and win a Leinster final. McElligott was one of their tireless workers who was key to holding Kilmacud Crokes to just 1-6 that day.

 

8. Daithí Burke

County: Galway

Club: Corofin

Position: Midfield

Just 12 minutes into the All-Ireland final, Burke left five Crokes' players in his wake with a mazy run and rocket of a shot that forced a marvellous save from Shane Murphy. A quiet man who prefers to let his talent do all the talking, the midfield giant couldn't avoid interviews after scoring 0-2 and winning Man of the Match in this year's decider; All this from a four-time hurling All Star!

 

9. Odhrán Mac Niallais

County: Donegal

Club: Gaoth Dobhair

Position: Midfield

Long regarded as an exquisite finisher with his left foot, Mac Niallais kicks Gaoth Dobhair frees but is also their quarter-back at midfield, winning and directing ball and dictating pace like a veteran. He gave a real exhibition in the Ulster final, driving them forward and scoring 0-4 (3f), including the equaliser to take it into extra-time, finishing as Man of the Match.

 

10. Gary Sice

County: Galway

Club: Corofin

Position: Wing-forward

Not just Corofin's free taker but their rock up front. He notched up 1-7 (7fs) in their All-Ireland semi-final victory over Gaoth Dobhair in another dazing display. Sice went on to score 1-5 (2f) in the All-Ireland final, just as he's done in the 2015 and 2017 deciders. At 34 he is still in the form and shape of his life.

 

11. Kieran O'Leary

County: Kerry

Club: Dr Crokes

Position: Centre-forward

Given Dr Crokes’ age-profile this year, O'Leary's experience and leadership was never more important. There was plenty of examples of it, not least his opportunistic 2-2 against Moyle Rovers and his 0-4 from play in the All-Ireland semi-final.

 

12. Jason Leonard

County: Galway

Club: Corofin

Position: Wing-forward

In a fast-moving, counter-attacking team that can suddenly rip your defence apart, Leonard still manages to stand out; a beautifully elegant footballer who always plays with his head up, looking for options other than his own. He still scored 1-3 in this year's final and was on the end of a marvellous passage of passes for their steadying opening goal.

 

13. Tony Brosnan

County: Kerry

Club: Dr Crokes

Position: Corner-forward

The former Kerry minor star racked up some phenomenal scores en route to Croker and finished their provincial and All-Ireland campaign with 30 points. But it was his form in the All-Ireland semi-final, when Crokes found themselves a man down and trailing Mullinalagha by three, that really showcased his ability and leadership, notching up 0-6 with four points from play.

14. Kevin Cassidy

County: Donegal

Club: Gaoth Dobhair

Position: Full-forward

A man apparently carved out of granite, it was no surprise to see big 'Cass' in full gladiator role for Gaoth Dobhair this season. The bigger surprise and delight was to see the 37-year-old reinvented as a full-forward, terrorising full-backs everywhere with his goal-mouth leaps, clever lay-offs and his 1-2 performance in their shock demolition of Crossmaglen in the Ulster semi-final set a tone he defiantly repeated in the Ulster final.

 

15. Martin Farragher

County: Galway

Club: Corofin

Position: Full-forward

This award is two from two for Martin who was also selected at 15 last year when he was also Man of the Match in the All-Ireland final. The number on his back means little because he is constantly roving and ready to pounce. He chipped in with 0-4 from play in this year's final and is always a lethal finisher, but it’s his work-rate and fantastic angles of running that makes him every defender's nightmare.

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