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The 2012 GAA All-Star Football Team: Where Are They Now?

The 2012 GAA All-Star Football Team: Where Are They Now?
By PJ Browne Updated
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The 2012 football season was a momentous one for Donegal as Jim McGuinness led the county to their second ever All-Ireland title. Donegal were rewarded that year with an incredible eight GAA All-Star winners.

Losing finalists Mayo had four that year, while Cork, who lost to Donegal in the semi-final, had two. Dublin, beaten by Mayo in the last four, were the only other county to have a football All-Star that year.

A decade on, we've taken a look at where the 2012 winners are in their lives and GAA careers.

[See Also: The 1997 GAA All-Star Football Team: Where Are They Now?]

[See Also: The 2007 All-Star Hurling Team: Where Are They Now?]

2012 GAA All-Star Football Team

Paul Durcan (Donegal)

A two-time All-Star winner (2012 and 2014).

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Durcan was a member of the Donegal panel as recently as 2020. For the past two seasons, he was part of Tony McEntee's Sligo backroom team as goalkeeping coach.

30 April 2022; Sligo coach Paul Durcan before the Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final match between Roscommon and Sligo at Markievicz Park in Sligo. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

He won a Dublin SFC title with Ballyboden St Endas in 2015, and an All-Ireland club title the following year. During that campaign, he travelled from Qatar- where he was living and working - to play for the south Dublin team.

The quantity surveyor now plays his club football with Drumcliffe/Rosses Point in Sligo. He transferred to North Sligo side in 2020.

Neil McGee (Donegal)

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A three-time All-Star (2011, 2012 and 2014). Retired from inter-county football in September after playing 18 seasons with Donegal.

He continues to play club football with Gaoth Dobhair.

Ger Cafferkey (Mayo)

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The Ballina Stephenites man retired from inter-county football in 2019, a decade after making his Mayo senior debut.

He has been a member of the Mayo ladies football backroom team for the past two years.

In Sean O'Sullivan's book, The Players' Advice, published in 2021, Cafferkey gave a brutally honest description of his abilities as a player, calling himself "a very average footballer" who was "only two per cent better than an average club full-back".

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23 February 2019; Ciarán Kilkenny of Dublin in action against Ger Cafferkey of Mayo during the Allianz GAA Football League Division 1 Round 4 match between Dublin and Mayo at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

"I was part of successful minor and under-21 Mayo teams from 2005 to 2008," he continued.

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"At the time there was limited social media. Traditional media was run by reputable local journalists that wouldn’t criticise such a young player. All the reports were great and stoked my ego. I became addicted to reading about how great I was.

"In 2009 I started playing senior football. All of a sudden I was fair game for criticism in traditional media and trolls started appearing on social media. It took years to wean myself off the need for external validation.

"If I was to redo my whole career, I would have ignored it in my early days. If you can’t stomach the bad reports then you can’t rely on the good ones."

Keith Higgins (Mayo)

21 May 2022; Keith Higgins of Mayo in action against James Burke of Kildare during the GAA Christy Ring Cup Final match between Kildare and Mayo at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

A four-time All-Star winner (2012, 2013, 2014, and 2017). He was also Young Footballer of the Year in 2006. Retired from inter-county football in 2021, but has continued to play hurling for Mayo.

He won a Nicky Rackard Cup in 2021, his second title at that level, and was also named Player of the Year. This season, he was named in the Champion 15, a Team of the Year for Christy Ring, Nicky Rackard, and Lory Meagher players.

Lee Keegan (Mayo)

A five-time All-Star (2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2021) who is again nominated this year. He was also Footballer of the Year in 2016.

One of two 2012 All-Stars still playing inter-county football. He will line out for Westport in this weekend's Mayo SFC final against Ballina Stephenites.

Karl Lacey (Donegal)

A four-time All-Star (2006, 2009, 2011, and 2012). He was also Footballer of the Year in 2012. Retired from inter-county football in 2017.

He is the Head of Academy Development for Donegal GAA, a role he took up in January 2021. Prior to that move, he had been a selector under Donegal manager Declan Bonner.

Lacey is also a lecturer at ATU Donegal.

27 May 2018; Donegal manager Declan Bonner, left, and Karl Lacey Donegal selector during the Ulster GAA Football Senior Championship Quarter-Final match between Derry and Donegal at Celtic Park in Derry. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Frank McGlynn (Donegal)

Retired from inter-county football after the 2019 season.

He is the principal of Drumkeen National School and continues to play club football with Glenfin.

Neil Gallagher (Donegal)

A two-time All-Star (2012 and 2014). Retired from inter-county football in 2017.

In 2014, he opened a sports shop in Letterkenny with his Glenswilly and Donegal teammate, Michael Murphy.

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Aidan Walsh (Cork)

A two-time All-Star (2010 and 2012), and also Young Footballer of the year in 2010. He last played for the Cork footballers in 2018.

Walsh has also played for the Cork hurlers. He made his debut in 2014. In December 2020, he posted on Instagram that it was a "pleasure and a privilege to get the opportunity to wear the red and white of Cork" with the presumption being that he had retired. However, it was not Walsh who had called time on his inter-county hurling career.

19 May 2019; Aidan Walsh of Cork in action against Cian Lynch, left, and Declan Hannon of Limerick during the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Round 2 match between Limerick and Cork at the LIT Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

"Maybe some people don’t know I didn’t retire," he told the Irish Examiner four month later.

"I was just told I wasn’t part of the plans going forward. I was kind of hoping to get another year or two out of it but it wasn’t to be. It’s something I will have to get used to."

The Kanturk man is a hurley maker. Upon his recent retirement from club hurling, Anthony Nash told The 42 that he would be "hanging up that beautifully designed Aidan Walsh hurley once and for all".

Paul Flynn (Dublin)

A four-time All-Star (2011 - 2014) and six-time All-Ireland winner. He retired from inter-county football in 2019, saying "While my heart says play on, unfortunately my body says it’s time to call it a day". He still plays club football with Fingallians.

9 July 2020; Paul Flynn of Fingallians, left, and Ciaran Kyne of Clontarf after the Senior Football Club GAA Challenge match between Fingallians and Clontarf at Lawless Memorial Park in Swords, Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

The 36-year-old stepped down as CEO of the GPA in 2021 after three years in the role, and is now CEO of Mobile Medical Diagnostics.

He has appeared as a Gaelic football pundit on the Second Captains podcast.

Alan Dillon (Mayo)

A two-time All-Star (2006 and 2012). He retired from inter-county football in 2017 after a 14-year senior career with Mayo.

He was elected as a Fine Gael TD for Mayo in 2020.

Mark McHugh (Donegal)

The Kilcar man stepped away from the Donegal panel following the 2018 season

"In 2018 I wasn’t getting wild game time," he told the Irish Mirror in May 2020.

"I thought I was playing fierce well and I just maybe wasn’t part of Declan’s plans. For the commitment that was involved, I just had to weigh it up and it wasn’t just coming out in my favour.

"With family life, Noah was born in 2017 and he was getting bigger. You were working during the day and it was five, six days a week. We live in Kilcar which is an hour and a half from Convoy (training) so it’s three hours round trip and it’s five, six days a week.

8 May 2022; Donegal players Blathnaid McLaughlin, 13, and Yvonne Bonnar share a joke with selector Mark McHugh after their side's victory in the Ulster Ladies Football Senior Championship Semi-Final match between Cavan and Donegal at St Tiernach's Park in Clones, Monaghan. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

"If I was seeing more game time I probably would still be there. It’s just, I couldn’t weigh it up to be sitting on a bench, to give this whole commitment.

"I played with my club and probably had the best year I ever had. It is a lot of pressure off. Will I ever play again? I don’t know."

Last year, he was a selector with the Donegal ladies football team as they reached the All-Ireland semi-final. He has been named as a member of Davy Burke's Roscommon backroom team for the 2023 season.

McHugh works in sales for Enva, a "leading provider of recycling and resource recovery solutions".

Colm O'Neill (Cork)

The 2010 All-Ireland winner was forced to retire from inter-county football in 2018, aged 29, due to recurring knee injury problems.

No longer able to play outfield due to the injuries, O'Neill lined out in goal for his club Ballyclough.

4 July 2022; Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and former Cork footballer Colm O'Neill during day one of the JP McManus Pro-Am at Adare Manor Golf Club in Adare, Limerick. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

"The way it came about was when I finished up with Cork I was told, I’d be fine running in straight lines but if I was to twist or turn there was a possibility that my ligaments could go again,” O’Neill told the Evening Echo.

"I was saying, ‘if that’s the case with inter-county, it’s going to be the same with [the] club’ that I wouldn’t have been able to turn.

"I was resigned to the fact that I was going to have to pull the pin altogether and finish up totally playing but after a few days thinking about it, the thought came into my head, ‘would I be able to play in goal’?

"The physio was humming and hawing and told me to have a go and see how I go. I went back to training, and with running and kicking a ball, I was fine, so that’s how I ended up in the net."

He was a selector with the Cork U20 footballers when they won the 2019 All-Ireland title.

Michael Murphy (Donegal)

A three-time All-Star (2012, 2014, and 2019), and Young Footballer of the Year in 2009. He is the second 2012 All-Star still active in inter-county football. Now 33, he is still Donegal's most important player.

23 September 2012; Michael Murphy, Donegal, shoots to score his side's first goal despite the attempts of Kevin Keane, Mayo. GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final, Donegal v Mayo, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

The Glenswilly man runs Michael Murphy Sports and Leisure in Donegal. He is also Head of Sport at Atlantic Technological University Donegal. He has managed the university in the Sigerson Cup.

Colm McFadden (Donegal)

He retired from inter-county football at the conclusion of the 2016 season.

"That’ll be it, absolutely,” he said at the time.

"I’m after 14 or 15 years. With them young fellas, that game is changing all the time. There’s plenty of fine talent coming through, good legs and good footballers so it’s time for them to take up the baton now."

See Also: Eight Years After Debut, Limerick 'Powerhouse' One Of Football's Best Half-Backs

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