EWAN MACKENNA HANDS out the jerseys after another busy weekend of GAA action throughout the country.
1. Alan Quirke (Cork) - Solved his side’s only big problem on the day as Kerry when they occasionally broke at pace found a route to goal. But they didn’t find a route to the back of the net as he made some great saves. Edges out Damian Sheridan, whose kickouts for Longford were superb.
2. Eoin Cadogan (Cork) - Never let himself be drawn into the tetchiness of the game and we were left with a sublime performance by a player who has pace, power, instinct and who is quite possibly the best corner-back in football at the moment.
3. Joe McMahon (Tyrone) - One of the most versatile players in the game had a good day at midfield but it was when he switched to full-back that he really stood out. Armagh aimed a lot of ball at John Kingham towards the end but his marker broke every single ball away from him.
4. Charlie Harrison (Sligo) – In the build up to the Galway game, he spoke about how he’d never been part of a better prepared team. It was a proclamation every bit as good as his performance. Outstanding on both front foot and back. We fit him in here.
5. Finian Moriarty (Armagh) – You can say that Peter Harte didn’t have a great game and that he still managed a crucial score, but his man took him out of the game for the most part, never gave him and inch and followed him around like a shadow.
6. Michael Quinn (Longford) – He’s one of the players of the season and is turning into one of the best players in the game. Can defend like his manager used to but also can dictate play, pass well, control the tempo and score. A class act.
7. Paudie Kissane (Cork) – He’s developing into one of the best wing-backs in football. As Kerry sat deep, he showed he can score from distance but is also tireless, bringing ball forward while managing to cover his own patch as well.
8. Colm Cavanaugh (Tyrone) – The best performance from a Tyrone midfielder in an age. Physically he was imposing under kickouts but he offered another dimension when getting forward and finishing. In that regard, wasn’t dissimilar from his brother.
9. Brendan Murphy (Carlow) – They haven’t won a game this season, but already it’s another great year for his county. He has dragged this team by the scruff of the neck out of the gutter and made them competitive. That’s some achievement.
10. Redmond Barry (Wexford) – His winning point was a good enough score to end any saga but throughout the game he posed a danger and finished up with a crucial 1-2. He’s far from selfish though and instinctively knows when to lay off a ball as well.
11. Ian Ryan (Limerick) – We accommodate him here, as he was the best player on a losing team across the weekend. Only half of his 10 points were from frees and as his side battled back, he was unmark able. Looked the player we thought he would be a couple of years back.
12. Alan Costello (Sligo) – Edges out Martin Penrose because much more than scoring repeatedly from a massive distance, he was the key playmaker and his supply into Adrian Marren and David Kelly was a defender’s nightmare.
Limerick’s John Riordan and David Tubridy of Clare. Pic: INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan
13. David Tubridy (Clare) – There’s no doubting there’s an over reliance on him but the upside is he’s good enough to carry a huge burden. He’s starred beside better players in Railway Cups, but two late points on Saturday means he can now star in a Munster final.
14. Adrian Marren (Sligo) – It seeped out that his league form made him like a new-age Dessie Sloyne. Well this was even better. He tormented Finian Hanley, winning low and high ball into him, and a massive 1-4 of his 2-6 was from play.
15. Donnacha O’Connor (Cork) – The best forward on display in a game packed full of the best attacking players in the game. His movement was superb and his timing off Nicholas Murphy was sublime. Man of the Match when the top two in the land collided.