Middle East Men’s Football Team of the Year: Goalkeeper, Backs and Midfield
February 15, 2023
As we countdown to the final round of the Middle East League at the Dubai Sevens Stadium next week, we take a look at the top 24 players in the Middle East and select the (current!) What’s The Craic DubEye Middle East Football Team of the Year.
This year has arguably been the biggest and best edition of the competition, with player numbers and quality continuing to improve. We saw another influx of top-quality inter-county players this year, which got us thinking about how a Middle East team would perform against the likes of London and New York in the championship and if there is a case to be made for a Middle East regional team competing in the All-Ireland.
First up, we have 1-9:
1 – Diarmuid Murphy (Dubai Celts)
Evan Duffy was arguably the player of the tournament in Sharjah, conceding just one goal and getting a crucial score in the final. However, Waterford man Murphy has been a rock in between the sticks for Dubai Celts and, to our knowledge, has yet to concede a goal this season. In Qatar, he made a spectacular save from Eric Lowndes, tipping the ball onto the post, before running the length of the pitch to fist a decisive match-winning point.
2 – Cormac Coffey (Dubai Celts)
Coffey is undoubtedly the stand-out at corner back and is probably the easiest decision of all. There isn’t much the Kerins O’Rahilly’s man can’t do, and hopefully sense will prevail, and his red card will be rescinded ahead of February 25.
3 – Liam McGoldrick (Jumeirah Gaels)
Dubai Celts’ Liam Mulligan is a solid defender, but it’s hard to overlook Derry man McGoldrick. The Portstewart native has had injury issues, playing just one senior tournament this season, but showed his supreme class when fit. If it wasn’t for injury, he would surely be part of Rory Gallagher’s squad.
4 – Eamon Kiely (Jumeirah Gaels)
Brosna’s Kiely has been solid as a rock for Jumeirah Gaels this season and is an obvious contender. Former London captain, Philip Butler, had a fine tournament for Dubai Celts in Qatar, but when it comes to hard decisions in the GAA, it’s all about tradition, so we’ll go with the Kerry man.
5 – Sean Kelly (Abu Dhabi Na Fianna)
Abu Dhabi will be hoping Roscommon man Ronan Daly will be their secret weapon come February 25, but with him not on the pitch yet, this position goes to UAE clubmate Sean Kelly. The Mayo man may be the least famous in his family, with both sisters playing AFL, but a podium finish in that family is nothing to be sneered at.
6 – Eric Lowndes (Jumeriah Gaels)
Like Coffey at corner back, Lowndes is an obvious selection at centre-back. The Dublin man has six All-Ireland medals in his back pocket, and at just 28 and in his second year in Dubai, is surely coming into his prime. He’s the perfect man for the heart of the defence.
7 – Frank Cassidy (Qatar)
Completing the exciting half-back line is Antrim’s Cassidy. Qatar are an intermediate side because of Covid and other reasons. However, whenever they could travel, Cassidy was a dominant player. It’s no surprise to see him lighting up the intermediate division in which they are unbeaten this campaign.
8 – Tommy Cahill (Dubai Celts)
In midfield, we need a big man, and although Wexford’s Jamie Carthy has been impressive for Sharjah, it’s hard to overlook the midfield maestro Cahill after his exploits in Qatar. Big box-to-box players are hard to find, especially ones that can also kick a score, and Top Cat Tommy fits this bill.
9 – Peter Acheson (Jumeirah Gaels, Captain)
Alongside Cahill, we have the influential Acheson. The Tipperary native was an All-Star nominee in his final season in Ireland, and given that was when he was 26, he surely would have secured one if he had stuck around in the cold wind of Clonmel. Since his move to the UAE, the Moyle Rovers man has arguably been the most dominant player in the region. His dedication knows no bounds, having led Jumeirah Gaels to glory in Sharjah mere hours after the birth of his daughter. A fine leader on and off the pitch.
Stay tuned until next week when we announce the rest of the starting fifteen and the all-important subs bench!