WITH Ballylanders crowned Limerick senior football champions, Jerome O’Connell picks his Limerick SFC team of the season and outlines the reasons for his selections.
County champions Ballylanders lead the team with six of the players, while a total of six different clubs are represented. Just two members remain from the 2013 LeaderSport Limerick SFC Team of the Year - Gearoid Hegarty and Killian Phair.
1. Ricky Slattery (Ballylanders)
The county champions goalkeeper conceded just three goals in their eight game run to the title. As well as standing form between the posts his kickouts were spot on. Especially in the county final he went short with kickouts to find a spare man in defence. James O’Mara (Fr Caseys) and Danny Fitzgerald (Ballysteen) had some memorable outings during the season.
2. Keelan Stephenson (St Patricks)
The St Patricks defender really came to prominence at wing back but did start earlier round games in the corner. Showed great pace to bring from defence and scored some memorable goals. Maurice Kelly (Ballylanders) and Wayne McCarthy (Pallasgreen) were fellow defenders worthy of mention.
3. Wayne Cronin (St Patricks)
The city man dominated at the edge of the square and looked classy in possession. Just pips Ballylanders’ Shane Fox, who did admirably against Eoin Hanrahan in the county final. Shane Gallagher (Ballysteen) is another that rarely put a foot wrong in a No3 shirt.
4. Stephen Fox (Ballylanders)
The Ballylanders man was mostly selected in attack but played the sweeper role brilliantly in defence under Ephie Fitzgerald’s gameplan. Always positioned himself in the right space and used possession intelligently. Mark Phelan (St Patrick), Colm Moran (Monaleen) and Shaun Browne (Newcastle West) all had some decent outings.
5. Brian O’Connell (Ballylanders)
Filled a number of roles for the county champions throughout the year and epitomised the gameplan that the manager asked of his players. In the county final surged forward for a point late in the first half. Fr Casey’s Jake Quirke, Brian Noonan of Dromcollogher-Broadfod and Sean McAuliffe (Newcastle West) also did well.
6. Paudie Browne (Fr Caseys)
The inter-county man was Mr Consistency at the heart of the Abbeyfeale defence holding off the challenges of county finallists Donal Kelly (Ballylanders) and Pa Mullins (St Patricks) as well as Ballysteen’s Pa Ranahan.
7. Johnny McCarthy (St Kierans)
The west Limerick men positioned their star man at wing back and he tormented oppositions. He popped up with a number of scores as well as performing defensive duties. Stephen Walsh (Ballylanders), Darren Jones (St Marys Sean Finns), Robert Browne (Fr Caseys) and Padraig Quinn (Monaleen) were key for their clubs.
8. Gearoid Hegarty (St Patricks)
The U-21 player was immense for the city side all season. With ball in hand he strikes fear into the opposition as he strides forward with purpose. The county final could have been so different if his third minute goalbound shot hadn’t crashed off the upright.
9. Iain Corbett (Newcastle West)
The county player gets the nod ahead of fine players but Corbett was instrumental in most that was good about Newcastle West this season. Worked from back to front and kicked some fine scores. Ballylanders pair Tom Lee and Johnny Murphy, David Ward (Fr Caseys), Paudie Vaughaun (Ballysteen) and James Ryan (Galbally) were all prominent for their clubs.
10. Kieran O’Callaghan (Ballylanders)
Especially in the group stages, O’Callaghan’s frees were the backbone of the Ballylanders surge. Not to mention his double of goals in the quarter-final. Spent much time at full forward but was wing forward in the final and remarkably didn’t score but did his bit for the gameplan as proved by catch and clearance in the full back line midway through the second half. Others like Eoghan O’Connor (St Marys Sean Finns) and Sean McSweeney (St Kierans) were also vital to their clubs.
11. Jimmy Barry Murphy (Ballylanders)
The winning captain was brilliant for Bally all season as he linked between defence and attack. Kicked some fine points also at crucial stages. Padraig McEnery (Fr Caseys) and Stephen Kelly (Newcastle West) were also prominent in leading their respective attacks.
12. Eoin Hanrahan (St Patricks)
Hanrahan burst onto the inter-county scene this season and continued to sparkle for St Patricks from midfield to corner forward. From frees, penalties and from play he led the charge for the Saints. Mikey Lyons (Adare), Thomas Quilligan (Newcastle West) and Kevin Barry (Pallasgreen) chipped in with crucial scores.
13. Killian Phair (Dromcollogher-Broadford)
Phair was the leading light in attack for the hat-trick chasing Drom-Broadford. Landed some fine scores for a side that topped their group and reached a semi-final. Ger Collins (Monaleen) and Eoin Walsh (Ballylanders) are others of note.
14. Danny Frewen (Ballylanders)
Every team needs an out-and-out finisher and that’s what Frewen brings to Bally. In the system this season he also had to work across the full forward line at times but came up trumps with some telling scores. St Patricks’ Jason Mullins and Danny Neville of Ballysteen were other options.
15. Jamie Lee (Newcastle West)
Lee returned a number of big tallies for Newcastle West - many from play - as he built on his first season as part of the inter-county senior scene. Eoin O’Donnell (St Marys Sean Finns) and Billy Quirke (Fr Caseys) were also dangermen for their clubs.