By Mark Jones
DUBLIN — As seems usual now, the selection of the 1999 GAA All-Stars in hurling and football couldn’t slip by without its share of controversy, and Clare’s manager, Ger Loughnane, was quick to hit out at the omission of Davy Fitzgerald from the hurling lineup.
Calling the decision not to pick his own county’s goalkeeper as "farcical," Loughane claimed Fitzgerald had been left out because of a five-week suspension imposed on him by the Munster Council earlier in the season.
"I think that 99 percent of the country felt that Davy was the best keeper over the year and no matter what the selectors say, the reason he didn’t get the award was over that suspension," an angry Loughnane said. "They should just come out and say he wasn’t considered because of the suspension, but that would’ve taken a bit of courage."
However, the selection committee, made up of a cross-section of
Gaelic games journalists, stressed that while Fitzgerald had been considered for the position, Cork’s Donal Cusack had performed better over the summer.
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Statistics show that Cusack conceded just one goal during Cork’s All-Ireland championship triumph, while Fitzgerald conceded four.
Fitzgerald had been coach to the Clare under 21 side and after he was involved in a brawl at the end of a championship game, he was suspended by the Munster Council.
"I feel that Davy ranks alongside Ger Cunningham as one of the greatest keepers of this era," said Loughnane, fuming. "But despite seven years of great service, he has only one All-Star award, which is a poor return."
Although both Frank Lohan and Niall Gilligan received awards, Clare’s frustration — or paranoia, depending on your point of view –was hardly eased with the midfield selections of Tipperary’s Tommy Dunne and Andy Comerford of Kilkenny ahead of Ollie Baker, who turned in several outstanding performances.
Predictably, the country’s two top hurlers, Brian Corcoran and Brian Whelahan, were included, with Whelahan the only survivor of the 1998 All Star line-up. D.J. Carey picked up his seventh award and Cork’s Corcoran was named Hurler of the Year.
The football selection passed off more peacefully, with All-Ireland
champions Meath filling seven of the places. Armagh’s Oisin McConville was arguably the most unlucky player to lose out as 10 players in all won a first award. Trevor Giles of Meath took the Football of the Year award, with Cork’s Philip Clifford winning Young Player of the Year.
1999 Hurling All-Stars
Donal Cusack (Cork); Ger Ryan (Cork), Diarmuid O’Sullivan (Cork), Brian Lohan (Clare); Brian Whelahan (Offaly), Brian Corcoran (Cork), Peter Barry (Kilkenny); Andy Comerford (Kilkenny), Tommy Dunne (Tipperary); D.J. Carey (Kilkenny), John Troy (Offaly), Brian McEvoy (Kilkenny); Seanie McGrath (Cork), Joe Deane (Cork), Nial Gilligan (Clare).
1999 Football All-Stars
Kevin O’Dwyer (Cork); Mark O’Reilly (Meath), Darren Fay (Meath), Anthony Lynch (Cork); Ciaran O’Sullivan (Cork), Kieran McGeeney (Armagh), Paddy Reynolds (Meath); John McDermott (Meath), Ciaran Whelan (Dublin); Diarmuid Marsden (Armagh), Trevor Giles (Meath), James Horan (Mayo); Philip Clifford (Cork), Graham Geraghty (Meath), Ollie Murphy (Meath).