Sean Cremin gives us his Gaelic Football Team of the Week for 3/4th August, there were some super performances especially by some Mayo players.
1. Stephen Cluxton – Dublin
His value to Dublin’s victory was very high indeed. He scored six long range frees, including three of Dublin’s first four points that they needed to score in order to cope with a strong start from Cork. He wasn’t really troubled in terms of shots at goal but his kick-out strategy was as effective as usual and he was Dublin’s top scorer on the night. He played a captain’s role.
2. Marc O’Sé – Kerry
I felt O’Sé continued is ever impressively high level of performance against Cavan and fully justifies a place in the full-back line. He dealt with the threat of the championship’s top scorer, Martin Dunne, very well. Other than the first score of the game, O’Sé completely dominated Dunne, who was eventually substituted. He is not getting any younger but he is still amongst the top defenders in the game.
3. Rory Dunne – Cavan
He was awarded the ‘man of the match’ award and in a game where there were a lot of ‘bit part’ performances I felt Dunne probably was the game’s most consistent performer. He dealt very well with the threat of Kerry’s Kieran Donaghy and defended well throughout. He also popped up quite a lot further out the field and was very prominent throughout the game.
4. Keith Higgins – Mayo
He is close to being the veteran of this Mayo side and he had a very good outing in what was almost a complete performance against Donegal. He has that pace that allows him to carry ball out of his defence in a manner that lifts players around him. He was deployed in a few different roles during today’s game and he impacted the game positively in each respective role.
5. Lee Keegan – Mayo
Keegan performed very well in Mayo’s victory. He was a deserved all-star last season and he has continued his good run of form into 2013. In attack and defence he was very efficient. He scored one point but he found himself in front of goal quite regularly. The modern day wing-back must cover enough ground to attack and defend and Keegan performs both of these roles very well.
6. Donal Vaughan – Mayo
This is a player who is growing into a very good centre-back. He is a good leader of the defence and can also be very effective in attack. He possesses a very good engine with an eye for goal and he can also do his primary duties as a defender. The timing of his attacks are very effective. Like the game against Galway, his goal came at a vital time and opponents will need to keep a close eye on him in future games.
7. Jack McCaffrey – Dublin
This man is probably the favourite for the ‘Young Footballer of the Year’ award at the moment. He has had an outstanding season. He received ‘man of the match’ against Cork and deservedly so. He showed his counterparts in the forward line how to finish, with a fine goal but there was a lot more to his performance. His pace is a huge threat but it allows him to get back and defend very quickly if he makes a break forward. He is the template for the modern day wing-back and young players will now try to model themselves on McCaffrey.
8. Aidan O’Shea – Mayo
O’Shea was a colossus against Donegal. He was their most important player on the day and his dominance at midfield really set the tone for Mayo’s phenomenal victory. He has been a developing player for a number of years and he now looks like he is up there with the best midfielder’s in the game. He has a big physical presence, great ball winning ability and he also has the skill and intelligence to use the ball effectively. The Donegal game could be the making of O’Shea and Mayo need this form to continue if they are to lift Sam Maguire.
9. Sean Cavanagh – Tyrone
It was a tough call between Cavanagh and Dublin’s Michael Daragh MacAuley. MacAuley had an important role in Dublin’s win but in reality Cavanagh was Tyrone’s match winner so he gets the nod. He received bad publicity for his cynical play but any player would have done the same thing in Cavanagh’s situation. Until the rules change, Cavanagh’s actions cannot be criticised. I thought his moment of cynicism in the first-half was more significant. His simulation that saw Darren Hughes receive a yellow card really halted Hughes’s performance and as a result Cavanagh thundered into the game. He was their leader and match winner again, and Tyrone will need more then Cavanagh to perform if they are to go further.
10. Diarmuid Connelly – Dublin
He did not get on the score sheet so therefore his finishing may be criticised but other than that I thought he was outstanding against Cork. He got on a world of ball and carried and used it relatively well. It was the best performance I have seen from Connolly in a while and I felt it was the performance of a team player. He was a vital cog in the Dublin side with an attack that malfunctioned at times. If he had taken his chances it would have been a great performance by Connolly but I still thought he was very good.
11. Alan Dillon – Mayo
He remains a very important part of Mayo’s side. He is the playmaker. He links well with midfield and half-back’s to get on the ball. He can carry the ball well and also has very good distribution skills. He can bring other players into the game and he also poses a scoring threat. He has had injury worries so far so he was called ashore early against Donegal but he played his part while on the field and will remain a vital leader of the Mayo attack if they are to go further.
12. Donnchadh Walsh – Kerry
He was in the press during the week insisting that he didn’t want to be known as a defensive half-forward and he responded by scoring three points from play today. He is generally renowned for his work rate and bringing balance to an attack filled with scoring forwards. He was very good against Cavan in an attack that didn’t fire as a unit. He really stepped up to the plate and showed that he can ‘walk the walk’ and not just ‘talk the talk’.
13. Cillian O’Connor – Mayo
This is a player who really has proved me wrong. He has been named ‘Young Footballer of the Year’ for the last two seasons but I felt he had done little other than free taking and didn’t deserve those sort of accolades but this season he has looked like an excellent footballer worthy of the winning both awards. He now looks a complete forward. He can play in the half-forward line and be creative or he can play close to goal and score. It looked like his season may have been over due to a shoulder injury but he has returned to score consecutive hat-tricks and he will be key to Mayo’s chances of success.
14. Andy Moran – Mayo
There must have been a great sense of redemption for Mayo but particularly for Andy Moran in their victory over Donegal. He missed last year’s All-Ireland final through injury and he has made a return from that serious cruciate knee injury this year. Mayo got revenge over Donegal but it’s still only a quarter-final. Moran played very well. Similar to Dillon he was taken off when the game appeared to be won. His match fitness seems to be improving with every game. His honesty and leadership seems to be making this Mayo forward click that extra bit this season and it may be what sees them go that extra step this September.
15. Conor McManus – Monaghan
While Monaghan were defeated I thought McManus hade a very good game. He was excellent in the first-half, providing huge problems for the Tyrone defence. He showed great forward instinct in the second-half to create a goal chance and if it wasn’t for Sean Cavanagh’s intervention he could have put Monghan in a winning position. It wasn’t to be for Monaghan but McManus showed against Tyrone and all through the season that he is a top class attacker.