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Paddy Durcan’s award well deserved

Sport

STAR PERFORMER Paddy Durcan from Castlebar Mitchels is pictured with his PwC All-Star award at the Convention Centre in Dublin last Friday night. Pic: Sportsfile

Talking Tactics

Billy Joe Padden

THERE’S no doubt in my mind that Paddy Durcan deserved his All Star.
Even though he missed a few games, he was one of the best and most consistent performers in the whole championship.
What really put the stamp on Paddy’s season was that performance against Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final. He was absolutely phenomenal against Jack McCaffrey, a player who is equally as good, but Durcan won that individual battle that day.
Of course, it wouldn’t necessarily pan out like that every time that they paired off, but I think that Paddy managed to hold McCaffrey scoreless in such a big game, and score two points himself was just such a spectacular achievement.
Everyone knew going into that match that Paddy Durcan was a serious player, but after seeing him do what he did against Dublin, I think people realised they had witnessed an elite performance by an elite player. And only elite players should win All Stars when they’re performing at that level.
He was also on top of his game against Galway and Donegal.
I don’t know Paddy personally, but you can take it that anyone who goes to Croke Park and goes toe-to-toe with Jack McCaffrey doesn’t lack self-belief or confidence.
So while he may not have needed the confidence boost of being recognised nationally with an All Star, he got it.
I think it’s a good thing for Mayo that another young player has come through, gone on and developed, and has now been recognised at national elite level. Mayo are going to need more of those players to step up and prove themselves over the next few years if we’re going to continue to be an All-Ireland contender.
Paddy Durcan is already one of this team’s leaders, and Mayo people have known all about his attributes and qualities for a few years now.
So his role in the Mayo team is not going to change because he’s already one of the main men, a leader, and looks to be a future captain in the making.
The biggest compliment I can pay Paddy Durcan is that I feel he’s now at Lee Keegan’s level when Keegan was at his best. For me, when he’s been fit, Durcan has been at that level for the last 18 months. This national recognition for him will mean that people around the country say, ‘Mayo had Lee Keegan, who was a superstar.
Now they have Paddy Durcan, ‘who is a superstar’ too.
And if Keegan can get back to that level again, and stay injury free for a few seasons, then you’ve got a rock-solid half-back line, no matter who you pair them with.
Colm Boyle, the third man in that line, had another great season and a lot of people felt he was unlucky not to win a fifth All Star. I honestly don’t think that Colm needed the award to know that he played at a level in 2019 that he hadn’t hit since 2017. And that should give him encouragement for what he can do again in 2020.
He was a colossus again in the Mayo half-back line this year, and I think him not getting an All Star had more to do with the selection committee trying to get Brian Howard into the team. I’m not saying that I agree with it, but I can understand it.
The idea of the selectors picking an All Stars ‘team’ is probably starting to get a little outdated because the modern game is now so fluid, and so few teams line out with players in the positions that the numbers on their backs would suggest.

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