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Gaelic football team of the year 2021: All-Star 15 for the championship season as Tyrone claim All-Ireland title
Following the conclusion of the 2021 All-Ireland Football Championship, we select our team of the year. Champions Tyrone lead the way with nine players included.
Last Updated: 14/09/21 2:24pm
And so another championship campaign is in the books, and as focus switches to the club season, end-of-year awards are not far away.
So who makes the team of the year?
Goalkeeper: Niall Morgan (Tyrone)
The Edendork shot-stopper grew as the season progressed. Having conceded six goals in the National League trip to Killarney, he only picked the ball out of his net once during the entire championship.
He played a fascinating role in the Ulster final, as part of the Red Hands' defensive efforts, and stepped up with big scores against Kerry and Mayo.
His ball over the top of the Mayo defence to create Darren McCurry's first-half goal chance was nothing short of sublime.
Full-back line: Pádraig Hampsey (Tyrone), Lee Keegan (Mayo), Ronan McNamee (Tyrone)
Pádraig Hampsey became just the third ever Tyrone man to lift the Sam Maguire Cup, and he thrived with the added responsibility of captaincy this season. He fulfilled his defensive duties impressively, and forayed forward for scores against both Kerry and Mayo.
Lee Keegan was arguably Mayo's premier performer in the decider. The experienced Westport club man is no stranger to big All-Ireland final showings, and did so again to back up a stellar season.
McNamee edges Pádraig O'Hora and Michael Fitzsimons for a final spot. Although he had his hands full with David Clifford in the semi-final, he delivered a big campaign.
Half-back line: Patrick Durcan (Mayo), Kieran McGeary (Tyrone), Peter Harte (Tyrone)
Kieran McGeary is the front-runner for Footballer of the Year, and was the first name on this team-sheet.
Durcan was his consistent self, providing an attacking outlet for Mayo with sniping runs forward and was excellent in defence.
Peter Harte was one of several players on the Tyrone panel to feature in several positions. Rising high for a mark in the second-half against Mayo summed up his year. When the Red Hands needed him, the Errigal Ciaráin club man delivered.
Midfield: Matthew Ruane (Mayo), Conn Kilpatrick (Tyrone)
Matthew Ruane was bested in the All-Ireland final, but he did more than enough across the campaign to warrant inclusion here.
Kilpatrick enjoyed a fine debut season, steadying the ship in the middle of the park for Tyrone, which was a seemingly a problem position for the team ahead of the championship. His aerial play for the second goal in the final was crucial.
Half-forward line: Niall Sludden (Tyrone), Paudie Clifford (Kerry), Conor Meyler (Tyrone)
Niall Sludden and Conor Meyler could both have been named in the half-back line, given their versatile roles.
Sludden produced his finest form since 2018, but unlike three years ago, he was able to deliver a big display in the final, kicking two points.
Meyler took on Ryan McAnespie, Ryan McHugh and Paudie Clifford, and eradicated their influences. He then kicked on in the decider, winning his duel with Durcan. He is in the conversation for the top individual honour.
Clifford was the standout performer across the four provincial championships, pulling the strings as Kerry demolished Clare, Tipperary and Cork. Even on an off-day against Tyrone, he kept battling to grow into the game and he led the line late on in extra-time. He edges teammate Seán O'Shea to take his place in this selection.
Full-forward line: Darren McCurry (Tyrone), David Clifford (Kerry), Daniel Flynn (Kildare)
Darren McCurry set the tone for the summer, kicking 0-10 against Cavan in the Ulster quarter-final. He continued with that form throughout, capping it off with a haul of 1-4 in the All-Ireland final.
David Clifford may have been subdued by Cork, but he showed flashes of brilliance with goals in the wins over Clare and Tipperary. His injury in the semi-final was a killer blow to the Kingdom, after he had scored 0-8 before his withdrawal.
Daniel Flynn produced two moments of magic for the two Kildare goals in their Leinster semi-final win over Westmeath. He then took the fight to Dublin in the provincial decider, scoring a stunning solo goal and caused the Sky Blues rearguard all kinds of problems.
Ryan O'Donoghue narrowly misses out, having enjoyed a fine year before the final, filling the void for Cillian O'Connor. Paddy Small and Ciarán Kilkenny were the top attacking threats for Dublin.