Much of the GAA summer was spent disagreeing with what was said by pundits, and the winter has started in similar fashion. Last night's All-Stars cleaved GAA fans apart, with Dublin fans among those spitting rancour at the selection committee. The snubbing of Stephen Cluxton angered the Dubs, but such arguments are a natural spinoff in the winnowing of the elite.
So while disagreements over the players included are perfectly fair, there has been another avalanche of criticism that is less acceptable, in relation to positions.
There has been a tranche of moaning about players' specific positions in the side, specifically in relation to Chris Barrett's selection at cornerback, and Dean Rock's at wing-forward:
is putting Barrett at corner back making a space for Cian O Sullivan at centre back!!
— Peter O'Leary (@poleary7) November 3, 2017
Dean Rock, albeit deserving of an all star, at half forward sums up everything wrong with the validity of them awards...
— Danny Kelly (@DannyMKelly) November 4, 2017
— Michael Mulvihill (@Michael_TWMedia) November 3, 2017
— Shane Fenton (@shanemfenton) November 3, 2017
The reality is that Rock was not picked at #10, nor was Barrett given the nod at #2. In 2015, the All-Stars selection committee tweaked the selection to reflect the evolution in formations in Gaelic football. No longer is the team picked to fit seamlessly into the traditional formation. Instead, the panel selects the six best defenders and the six best forwards. They don't pick them according to the jersey they wear.
John Fogarty of the Irish Examiner is a member of the selection panel, and he explained the change in the process in his newspaper column:
In 2015, the All-Stars steering committee voted in favour of doing away with assigning players to two defensive and two attacking lines. In the interest of acknowledging the fluidity of positions in both codes as well as ensuring the best six backs and six forwards were honoured, the decision was taken to select 18 nominees in each area. It hasn’t been to the liking of some traditionalists, some of whom argue it goes against the grain of the awards, but it mirrors the modern game.
It's understandable that some viewers were confused by the assigning of positions: RTE decided to keep with tradition and call out the winners according to the traditional positions or corner-back, wing-forward, etc.
So while Rock and Barrett find themselves honoured in unfamiliar positions, they were not actually selected in those positions.
That all being said, there are a couple of legitimate complaints regarding positioning. Why was Colm Cavanagh considered as a midfielder, rather than a defender?
And while we're at it, why wasn't Aidan O'Shea considered for inclusion as a defender?