Fans stunned as Captain Fantastic is excluded

Paul O’Shea receiving the man-of-the-match award after the All-Ireland semi-final

KERRY fans – and many neutral observers – have been left stunned by the exclusion of Kingdom skipper Paul O’Shea from the Electric Ireland Minor Football Team of the Year which features just four of the side that clinched the country’s five-in-a-row.

The stylish Kilcummin centre forward was one of the stand-out performers in this year’s championship – culminating with a man-of-the-match performance in the All-Ireland semi-final and a power-packed display in the final –  and his absence from the All-Star team has left fans and commentators puzzled. He orchestrated the Kerry attack throughout the campaign and his great distribution, his reading of the game and ability to pick off vital scores were key factors in Kerry’s success.

The 2018 Minor Team of the Year

A number of the Kerry players chosen are playing out of position. Full back Owen Fitzgerald from Gneeveguilla, wing back Colm Moriarty from Annascaul, midfielder Darragh Rahilly from Rathmore and wing forward Paul Walsh from Brosna were the only Kingdom players to make the first 15 despite a super string of victories by Peter Keane’s side throughout the campaign.

O’Shea’s exclusion sparked a storm of protest on social media and even Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney, whose side Kerry beat in the semi-final, expressed his amazement.

“How Paul O’Shea didn’t make the team of the year is unbelievable. He was player of the year, never mind making the team of the year. Very unfair on this young man,” McEnaney tweeted.

Former Kerry defender Barry O’Shea said: “That team is picked by committee? They did not see most of the games? He has the medal. That’s the most important thing”.

Kerry’s 2017 Minor All-Stars, seated in front, from left, Niall Donohue, David Clifford and Cian Gammell with, at back from left, Donal O’Sullivan, Michael Potts, Barry Mahony, Fiachra Clifford and Deividas Uosis

The judging panel, which included Cork player Daniel Goulding and former Tyrone star and Sunday Game analyst Sean Cavanagh, said the players selected had proven themselves as top player, after experiencing the highs and lows of a tough championship season through wins, losses, setbacks and success.

Goulding remarked: “Over the past several months, these players have shown dedication and perseverance in facing challenges both on and off the pitch. They are a talented group and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for these Minor stars.”

The players will be honoured at an awards ceremony in Croke Park on September 29.

Last year’s Minor All-Stars side feature eight Kerry players who had eased to the four-in-a-row playing spellbinding football.

They were Deividas Uosis, Cian Gammell, Michael Potts, Niall Donohue, Barry Mahony, David Clifford, Donal O’Sullivan and Fiachra Clifford.

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