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Best wing-forward in Gaelic football

Brian Howard, Stephen O’Brien, Diarmuid O’Connor, Ruairi Deane — there is a magical list of wing-forwards lighting up the game just now

Shane Stapleton and Michael Verney look across the country to find out who is the best wing-forward in Gaelic football.

The list of brilliant wing-forwards in Gaelic football is as long as your arm.

Stephen O’Brien was in line for Footballer of the Year for long spells in 2019, but ended the season without an All Star as Dublin completed the drive-for-five at the second time of asking.

There’s little doubting his quality though, as seen throughout an exceptional campaign with Kerry.

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Brian Howard won his individual award for 2019 at centre-back, and certainly he filtered back when the Dubs needed him to, but he has quickly established himself as a top wing-forward.

Of course, part of deciding who is the best player in this position is asking what do you expect from this zone in the modern era of football.

Do you want a free-scorer, a workhorse doing the graveyard shift up and down the flank, a playmaker, a man to fetch ball, or everything in between?

Diarmuid O’Connor will always be remembered for his sensational performance in the ‘Newbridge Or Nowhere’ qualifier clash against Kildare in 2018, and may well have found a new gear as captain in 2019 but for a wrist injury mid-season.

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Enda Smith, like O’Brien, is a dynamic ball-carrier while Ruairi Deane of Cork has an inimitable way of barrelling through defences.

Peter Harte can play pretty much any position on the pitch, among them wing-forward, and arguably has the greatest skillset of any player in this discussion.

However, does he slip down the pecking order due to the disappointing games the Tyrone wizard has had against Dublin man-marker John Small?

Shane Stapleton and Michael Verney delve into the debate.

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