WHILE Kerry fans and GAA supporters in other counties rejoiced at the selection of Sean O’Shea as Young Footballer of the Year and the deserved inclusion of four Kerry players on the 2019 All-Stars, it was the shocking omission of Stephen O’Brien that sparked the most reaction, particularly given the brilliant season he enjoyed.
O’Brien was Kerry’s standout player of the year with the speed merchant Kenmare Shamrocks player brilliant throughout the National League and in magnificent form right through the championship.
The impression he had made was such that on the morning of the drawn All-Ireland final he was the almost considered a certainty for the Footballer of the Year accolade and although he was quieter than normal in both the drawn decider and the replay, he was still very solid and he certainly did enough to ensure he would be an automatic pick on the All-Star team.
In their wisdom, however, the selection panel opted for Donegal’s Micheal Murphy in the right half forward position despite the fact that his side didn’t make it out of the Super 8s.
There was a furious backlash on social media with supporters in several counties complaining that O’Brien had been robbed through his exclusion and Kerry fans were not slow to vent their anger on Twitter and other platforms.
The other Kerry nominees not to make the team were goalkeeper Shane Ryan, defenders Tadhg Morley and Paul Murphy and full forward Paul Geaney.
There were great celebrations for the Kerry contingent in the National Convention Centre, meanwhile, as they toasted Sean O’Shea’s remarkable achievement of winning an All-Star and the Young Player of the Year award not long after his 21st birthday.
The Kenmare star has all the qualities required to be one of the great footballers of his generation and he had a terrific season in the green and gold.
David Clifford, still only 20, was collecting his second All-Star as was veteran David Moran while tigerish Tom O’Sullivan, the best corner back in the game and a quality player when supporting the attack,was also deservedly honoured.
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