2016 GAA/GPA Opel Football All-Stars
Sam Maguire holders Dublin have been honoured with the selection of six players on this year’s GAA/GPA All-Star Football team, in association with Opel.
In a year that saw the Dubs win the Allianz Football League, and then the Leinster and All-Ireland Senior Championships, Jim Gavin’s all-conquering side have the largest representation in a team that features players from six different counties.
Beaten All-Ireland finalists Mayo have been honoured with four All-Stars – all of whom were defenders in Championship 2016 - including a first ever All-Star for goalkeeper David Clarke and a fourth award for wing back Lee Keegan.
Tyrone’s Mattie Donnelly and Peter Harte have been included while Ryan McHugh (Donegal), Michael Quinlivan (Tipperary) and Paul Geaney (Kerry) complete the final list of winners.
Donegal’s versatile Ryan McHugh and Dublin forward Dean Rock are among a list of eight players picking up their first ever awards. As well as joining an exclusive club they also make it a real family affair.
Ryan’s father Martin McHugh was an All-Star winner in 1983 and 1992 and his older brother Mark won an award in 2012. Dean Rock is following in the footsteps of his iconic father Barney who won three All-Stars in a row in 1983, 1984 and 1985.
The selection of Tipperary full forward Michael Quinlivan makes him the first footballer from the Premier County to be honoured with an All-Star since Declan Browne, who was Tipp’s first ever Football All-Star in 1998 and won a second award in 2003.
Uachtarán CLG Aogán Ó Fearghail chaired the selection committee meeting and congratulated the 2016 winners.
He said: “Gaelic football and hurling are team sports - but the GAA/GPA All-Stars offer us a chance to recognise and honour the warrior spirit of the players who, through their individual brilliance, helped ignite our season.
“Enjoying a proud history that stretches back to 1971, the All-Stars award scheme continues to occupy a special place in the hearts and minds of the GAA public and I want to warmly congratulate the chosen players and know that it will be a massive honour for not only them and their families, but also for the Clubs who started them out on the road to being inter county heroes and now GAA/GPAQ All-Stars. I also want to thank Opel for their continuing support.”
Dessie Farrell, Gaelic Players Association Chief Executive, added: "As always the annual selection of the All-Star teams will be a source of great debate over the winter but the announcement of the first All-Star 15 is an appropriate time to celebrate the contribution of all county players during a dramatic 2016 season. Thanks to the selection panel of journalists from the print and broadcast media who had the difficult task of picking the final 15. Good luck to the 45 hurling nominees tomorrow night and we look forward to seeing who will be unveiled as Players of the Year and Young Players of the Year. Thanks to Aogán Ó Fearghaíl and the GAA and GPA teams who helped organise this year's awards scheme and to our long-time supporters, Dave Sheeran and Opel Ireland for their outstanding sponsorship of the GAA/GPA All-Stars."
Commenting on the announcement, Dave Sheeran, Managing Director Opel Ireland said: "To be shortlisted for an Opel All-Star is an incredible achievement in itself, so I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all 45 players who were recognised as part of this group. Firstly as fans, but also in our capacity as the official car partner of the GAA and GPA, it gives me great pleasure to congratulate the 2016 GAA / GPA Opel All-Stars Football Team.”
A selection meeting in Croke Park on Wednesday whittled a star-studded list of 45 nominees down to the final 15 with the distinguished winners receiving their awards at a black tie gala event in Dublin’s Convention centre this Friday.
The announcement of the 2016 GAA/GPA All-Star Hurling team in association with Opel will be made live on Friday night - as will the announcement of the Footballer and Hurler of the Year - which is voted on exclusively by the players. The award ceremony will be broadcast live on RTE 1 from 7.00
GAA/GPA ALL-STARS, in association with Opel
1 David Clarke (Mayo) First time winner
*2 *Brendan Harrison (Mayo) First time winner
3 Jonny Cooper (Dublin) First time winner
4 Philly McMahon (Dublin) Second time winner
5 Lee Keegan (Mayo) Fourth time winner
6 Colm Boyle (Mayo) Third time winner
7 Ryan McHugh (Donegal) First time winner
8 Brian Fenton (Dublin) Second time winner
9 Mattie Donnelly (Tyrone) Second time winner
10 Peter Harte (Tyrone) First time winner
11 Diarmuid Connolly (Dublin) Second time winner
12 Ciaran Kilkenny (Dublin) Second time winner
13 Dean Rock (Dublin) First time winner
14 Michael Quinlivan (Tipperary) First time winner
15 Paul Geaney (Kerry) First time winner