Picking a team of the year is, as George Hook would say, the stuff of our barstools, and, even worse, the stuff of FIFA bureaucrats. Most of these mickey mouse, back of the envelope teams attract little attention when set alongside the major individual awards. Not so the Balls.ie Alternative Team of the Year.
For our alternative team of the year we have decided to go with the patented 'Mark Lawrenson Christmas Tree', the 4-3-1-2. (Lawrenson once told Trevor Welch, or was it Aidan Cooney, on TV3 that a certain team were playing a 4-3-1-2 or a "kind of a Christmas tree formation" as the then moustaschioed Lawrenson dubbed it on TV3). It's not for us to comment on the odd Christmas trees that appear in the Lawrenson household each year).
Obviously my reputation as a cutting edge commentator on sport (you said it not me) would be dirt if I did something so mundane as to pick a 4-4-2.
There was no other contender for the goalkeeper position. The Balls.ie man of the Year blew everyone else out of the water. From landing an emotional screen kiss on Frankie Dolan after the All-Ireland club final to his typically bold sally up the field in the Connacht club final last month, the ex-Sligo Rovers man is our man between the sticks. What a day for Roscommon.
Neville remains flavour of the month. Throughout his career he always managed to end up at right back, no matter who the competition was. Frequently is on the receiving end of the highest possible compliment. Praise from anonymous Youtube commenters. A typical contribution reads "I never thought I'd say this but Gary Neville is talking a lot of sense here, and that's coming from a Liverpool fan."
Phil Bardsley was always going to walk onto our team of the year ever since he chose to celebrate Wigan's demise by going out for a few quiet ones and then onto a casino where he lay under a blanket of cash. Paolo Di Canio, a man who got annoyed when his players said "thank you" to the catering staff, was not likely to welcome such shenanigans.
An expert of the last ditch tackle. Nothing gets by this man. He makes sure of that.
A doughty, tigerish battler with great presence of mind, the glasses tosser in Pearse Park would be able to put some stick about from the full back position.
Like Shane Curran, there would have been uproar had this man not been selected and rightly so. The flick in Cardiff was good, the rap with his compadre Paddy Jackson was even better
The deep-lying playmaker, the Andrea Pirlo-esque figure in our side is the over-sleeping wild boy Johnny 'Football' Manziel.
The notorious Ashley Young is the bad boy of our team. His tourettes like propensity for diving has shocked and appalled everyone and made one of the more reviled footballers in the world today.
Attacking midfielder/Withdrawn striker
This position needs a man with flair, imagination, guile, a man of passion, a creative character, a man who can play Chopin, a man who's always questioning societies ills, a man who takes the long view...
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been more him than he's ever been this past year.. He has scored a bewildering array of spectacular goals and his bold pronouncements grew progressively bolder as the year progressed. As ever, the fact that his stint at charm school was clearly cut short has been exquisitely evident on various occasions.
Peamount United's most renowned striker has to make the team. This delightful little flick and volley in a 6-1 win has collected a respectable couple of million views on youtube.
RTE's League of Ireland coverage has a wonderful tradition of interviewing managers not just after the match or before the match or even at half time but during the match. The best advertisement for doing this (from a media point of view at least) was Stephen Kenny giving his opinion on the refereeing capabilities of Anthony Buttimer. There was also his central role in the second jumper-related panic of 2013.