Which Munster county outperformed heavyweights Kerry in the GAA All-Star nominations?
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Which Munster county outperformed heavyweights Kerry in the GAA All-Star nominations?

FOR ONCE, neither Cork nor Kerry are the best representatives of Munster in the annual GAA/GPA Football All-Star Award nominations.

With a record 37 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship titles to their name, Kerry are Gaelic football kingpins, while their whopping 78 Munster titles – including the 2016 trophy – makes them by far the biggest force in their province.

However, there appears to be some new kids on the block.

In a sporting sense, the county of Tipperary is traditionally known for its high-class hurlers, emphasised by their defeat of Kilkenny in this year’s All-Ireland Senior Hurling final.

But the Premier County are well on their way to becoming a dual-county, like their fallen Munster rivals Cork, and that progress has been highlighted in this year’s Football All-Star nominations, which were announced on Thursday.

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With five representatives (Evan Comerford, Robbie Kiely, Peter Acheson, Michael Quinlivan and Conor Sweeney), All-Ireland semi-finalists Tipperary are flying the flag for Munster, despite having lost the provincial final to Kerry.

But how have Tipperary emerged as a genuine force in Gaelic football?

Well, aside from the Munster final defeat, Tipp have been moving forward all year, making history along the way; a first championship win against Cork since 1944; a first All-Ireland semi-final appearance since 1935; a first win against Galway in 114 years.

In fact, they stuffed Galway by 10 points, but it could have been 20. Tipp scored three goals though it could have had seven or eight. In total, they created a colossal 23 more scoring chances than Galway.

Football’s status within the county is increasing all the time and there is a clear correlation to Tipp’s progress with the underage crusade they have undertaken in the last decade.

In that time, Tipp have contested seven Munster minor finals and seven Munster U21 finals, winning four titles from those 14 appearances.

That record is even more impressive considering they only contested 15 provincial underage finals at minor and U21 in the preceding 77 years.

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Some of those were breakthrough successes, with Tipp’s first U21 title arriving in 2010.

It would seem as though Tipperary is a football county once again and, who knows, perhaps a first All-Ireland Football title since 1920 is just around the corner.

GAA/GPA Opel Football All-Stars nominations for 2016

Goalkeepers

1. Evan Comerford (Tipperary)
2. Stephen Cluxton (Dublin)
3. David Clarke (Mayo)

Defenders

1. Jonny Cooper (Dublin)
2. Brendan Harrison (Mayo)
3. Keith Higgins (Mayo)
4. Cian O’Sullivan (Dublin)
5. Lee Keegan (Mayo)
6. Colm Boyle (Mayo)
7. Philly McMahon (Dublin)
8. Ryan McHugh (Donegal)
9. Cathal McCarron (Tyrone)
10. John Small (Dublin)
11. Patrick Durcan (Mayo)
12. Shane Enright (Kerry)
13. Declan Kyne (Galway)
14. James McCarthy (Dublin)
15. Kevin McLoughlin (Mayo)
16. Paddy McGrath (Donegal)
17. Robbie Kiely (Tipperary)
18. Killian Young (Kerry)

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Midfielders

1. Brian Fenton (Dublin)
2. Peter Acheson (Tipperary)
3. Matthew Donnelly (Tyrone)
4. Gary Brennan (Clare)
5. Paul Conroy (Galway)
6. Colm Cavanagh (Tyrone)

Forwards

1. Ciarán Kilkenny (Dublin)
2. Diarmuid Connolly (Dublin)
3. Dean Rock (Dublin)
4. Kevin McManamon (Dublin)
5. Paul Geaney (Kerry)
6. Michael Quinlivan (Tipperary)
7. Andy Moran (Mayo)
8. Conor Sweeney (Tipperary)
9. Aidan O’Shea (Mayo)
10. Paul Murphy (Kerry)
11. Cillian O’Connor (Mayo)
12. Damien Comer (Galway)
13. Diarmuid O’Connor (Mayo)
14. Peter Harte (Tyrone)
15. Danny Cummins (Galway)
16. Patrick McBrearty (Donegal)
17. Seán Cavanagh (Tyrone)
18. Niall Sludden (Tyrone)

Player of the Year Nominees

1. Brian Fenton (Dublin) 2. Lee Keegan (Mayo) 3. Ciarán Kilkenny (Dublin)

Young Player of the Year Nominees

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1. Diarmuid O’Connor (Mayo) 2. Josh Keane (Tipperary) 3. Jimmy Feehan (Tipperary)