The annual All-Star committees will convene in Croke Park today (Wed) to chose the 2013 selections in hurling and football as the Opel sponsored scheme reaches its annual climax.
While the committees of journalists will be busy arguing over the many hotly-contested positions, the players will have finalized their choices for Players of the Year – both of whom will be in New York on Thursday, November 14, for the GPA’s second annual Ireland-US Gaelic Heritage Awards Gala in the NY Athletic Club.
The battle for footballer of the year is likely to see a shoot-out between Dublin’s pioneering goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton and his midfield team-mate Michael Darragh Macauley with Mayo’s outstanding wing-back Lee Keegan with an outside shot of upsetting the odds.
In hurling, Clare’s Tony Kelly is the favourite to land the accolade, chosen by the inter-county playing body, with his Banner colleagues Podge Collins and David McInerney in contention.
The 2013 Players of the Year, along with the Sam Maguire and Liam McCarthy Cups, will be among a group of special guests who will be present as the GPA honors Irish Voice founder Niall O’Dowd and ICON Chief Executive Ciaran Murray.
The players will be joined in New York by a group of GAA legends including Dublin’s three-time All-Ireland medal winner Tony Hanahoe, who was player manager in 1977 when Dublin won their third title of the decade.
The All-Ireland semi-final in 1977 between Dublin and Kerry was regarded as the greatest game of football ever played until this summer when the same pairing may have surpassed the earlier encounter in terms of drama and excitement.
Hanahoe, considered a pioneering force in football, is also chairman of the GPA’s Past Players Advisory Group which this year held its inaugural networking event for former players when over 250 stars of yesteryear gathered on the eve of the All-Ireland Football Final.
Speaking about that event, Hanahoe commented: “The Past Players Group was established with the aim of developing a network of former players under the umbrella of the GPA, which already supports past players through its various programs.
“We believe that a strong network can provide support to former players who may be in personal difficulty for whatever reasons. We will be encouraging those interested in being part of a network to join with us subsequently so that we can form a support structure for those who contributed so much to our games in the past.”
Hanahoe will be joined by his 1970s teammate, the iconic midfielder Brian Mullins while fellow Dubs Mick Galvin of 1990s fame and, of course, GPA chief Dessie Farrell will also be in the NY Athletic Club for what promises to be a very exciting evening.