No debate over Brogan award
Dublin assassin's stellar season rewarded in Citywest
PICKING an All Star football team may have carried a government health warning but there was no such room for discussion -- furiously debated or otherwise -- when it came to selecting Footballer of the Year.
That man is Bernard Brogan, and he was duly confirmed as the recipient of this standout honour at the Vodafone All Stars banquet in Citywest last night. Any other result, of course, would have alerted Amnesty International to his case: the Birmingham Six, the Guildford Four, and now the Navan Road One!
It was never going to happen, though, because Brogan's prolific achievements right through this season are simply impossible to ignore. He was top scorer in this year's NFL Division One, scoring 3-31 (16 frees) -- and this despite coming off the bench for Dublin's first three outings before starting their last four games.
He was second top scorer in this year's senior championship, scoring 3-42 (17 frees), edged out by Kildare's Johnny Doyle by one point although a greater percentage of Brogan's return came from open play.
The quality of his performances -- be it against Tyrone up in Omagh last April, or Wexford, Tipp, Armagh, Tyrone and especially Cork this summer -- proved his credentials beyond a shred of reasonable doubt.
At last night's function, the Dublin assassin saw off fellow nominees Michael Shields of the champions, Cork, and Danny Hughes of the vanquished finalists, Down.
The irony is that Shields was switched onto an already rampant Brogan during their All-Ireland semi-final clash and -- even though the Cork full-back leaked another five points from play -- was deemed to have played reasonably well on his direct opponent. That tells you everything about the Dubliner's stellar season.
Cork won't complain too loudly at Shields being overlooked and, besides, they had the consolation of seeing Aidan Walsh named Young Footballer of the Year. The All Stars' Footballer of the Year version has been in existence since 1995, and this is the first time that someone who didn't even reach the final has been recognised as top of the class. Only twice before (Peter Canavan in 1995, Steven McDonnell in 2003) has a beaten finalist been named.
However, there are two small ball precedents where a losing semi-finalist is named Hurler of the Year -- Tony Browne for Waterford in 1998 and his county colleague, Dan Shanahan, in 2007.
The latest Hurler of the Year is Lar Corbett, a deserving accolade for the long-serving Tipperary forward after an excellent campaign capped by his All-Ireland final hat-trick. The Young Hurler bauble went to Tipp midfielder Brendan Maher, who had also been nominated for the main award.
The All Stars hurling team, unveiled on RTé television last night, will prove a lot less contentious than its football counterpart -- albeit it was a far easier team to pick. There are six Tipp men and five from Kilkenny, including wing-back Tommy Walsh who becomes the first hurler to win eight All Stars in consecutive years. The team is completed by two Waterford players and Galway's sole representative, Damien Hayes. First-time winners include Waterford's Noel Connors, Tipp duo Paul Curran and Brendan Maher, along with Michael Fennelly and Richie Power for the Cats.
2010 VODAFONE HURLING ALL STARS
1 Brendan Cummins (Tipperary)
2 Noel Connors (Waterford)
3 Paul Curran (Tipperary)
4 Jackie Tyrrell (Kilkenny)
5 Tommy Walsh (Kilkenny)
6 Michael 'Brick' Walsh (Waterford)
7 JJ Delaney (Kilkenny)
8 Brendan Maher (Tipperary)
9 Michael Fennelly (Kilkenny)
10 Damien Hayes (Galway)
11 Noel McGrath (Tipperary)
12 Lar Corbett (Tipperary)
13 John Mullane (Waterford)
14 Richie Power (Kilkenny)
15 Eoin Kelly (Tipperary)
HURLER OF THE YEAR: Lar Corbett (Tipperary). YOUNG HURLER OF THE YEAR: Brendan Maher (Tipperary). FOOTBALLER OF THE YEAR: Bernard Brogan (Dublin). YOUNG FOOTBALLER OF THE YEAR: Aidan Walsh (Cork).