BY CHRIS MCNULTY
PAUL Durcan, Neil McGee, Neil Gallagher and Michael Murphy have been confirmed as 2014 All-Stars.
The Donegal quartet are included on an All-Star team that contains no major surprises.
Kerry, who defeated Donegal in last month’s All-Ireland final. lead the way with five awards, but Donegal’s superb season is recognised with their four awards.
Beaten semi-finalists Dublin and Mayo each get three, meaning that this year’s All-Star team comprises only players from the four provincial winners.
Full-back McGee receives his third All-Star award and is now only the second Donegal man ever, after Karl Lacey – who has won four – to get more than two of the prized gongs.
Durcan, Gallagher and Murphy are All-Stars for the second time having earned previous acclaim in Donegal’s All-Ireland winning campaign in 2012.
Durcan is in following a magnificent season in goal that was blighted by a mistake which led to Kieran Donaghy scoring Kerry’s second goal in the final.
But Durcan had a superb season and a wonderful save, to deny Diarmuid Connolly of Dublin in the semi-final was seen as a key moment in the campaign.
McGee has stood tall all year and even in the final kept James O’Donoghue scoreless. The Gaoth Dobhair even got forward to score a point. The list of top forwards he’s kept a lid on seems endless and McGee also finds himself nominated – along with O’Donoghue and Connolly – for the Player of the Year award.
The winner of that prize will be announced on Friday night at the All-Star banquet.
Donegal duo Ryan McHugh and Patrick McBrearty have been nominated for the Young Player of the Year award, as has Galway’s Shane Walsh. McHugh has been favourite for that award for some time now and he Kilcar lad was one of the unlucky ones not to make the All-Star team.
Donegal captain Murphy makes it in the half-forward line, with Donaghy’s stellar contribution to the latter part of Kerry’s campaign recognised by his inclusion, while Gallagher is in a midfield beside Kerry’s David Moran.
One of the big disappointments in Donegal is the absence of Eamon McGee.
Unlucky not to make it in 2012, McGee rose the bar again this year and had what is perhaps his best campaign for the county. McGee had been nominated in the full-backs, where brother Neil has been selected.
In all there are six first-time recipients with Paul Murphy joined by James McCarthy, Peter Crowley, David Moran, Diarmuid Connolly and Cillian O’Connor, who adds an All-Star to the underage awards he has previously collected.
“It was another superb year for our championships and the 15 footballers named on this team played their part in that, producing superb performances that powered their respective counties’ challenges,” GAA President Liam O’Neill said.
“After an All-Ireland medal All-Star awards are cherished and the tradition and significance attached to them remind us of legacy that previous winners have left behind.
“I congratulate and laud all of the winners and those who featured on the nominees’ list. I’d also like to thank the GPA and Opel for their ongoing support of these awards.”
The Hurling selection will be announced live on RTÉ television on Friday evening as will the Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year winners in both codes.
Meanwhile, Donegal hurlers Justin McGee and Paul Sheridan have been named on the Nicky Rackard Team of the Year. Those awards will also be presented at the All-Stars banquet.
2014 GAA GPA Football All-Stars sponsored by Opel
1. Paul Durcan (Donegal)
2. Paul Murphy (Kerry)
3. Neil McGee (Donegal)
4. Keith Higgins (Mayo)
5. James McCarthy (Dublin)
6. Peter Crowley (Kerry)
7. Colm Boyle (Mayo)
8. Neil Gallagher (Donegal)
9. David Moran (Kerry)
10. Paul Flynn (Dublin)
11. Michael Murphy (Donegal)
12. Diarmuid Connolly (Dublin)
13. Cillian O’ Connor (Mayo)
14. Kieran Donaghy (Kerry)
15. James O’ Donoghue (Kerry)