Gaelic football's best half-backs: Who would make the top five?

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There is a golden generation of half-backs in Gaelic football right now, but who is the best in the business?


Jack McCaffrey's departure from the Dublin set-up is an undoubted blow to Dessie Farrell's charges ahead of the 2020 championships. Given the Clontarf man's big-game performances in recent years, the All-Ireland champions have a major void to fill.

But where does the 26-year-old rank among the top half-backs in the game?

Kieran Donaghy and Peter Canavan were asked to select their respective top-fives on Inside The Game, Sky Sports' new GAA discussion show, and ponder where McCaffrey would fit in.

Given that Donal Keogan, Colm Boyle, Peter Crowley and Tiernan McCann were among the names that didn't make either list, it's not hard to see just how high the quality is in the sport right now.

"[James McCarthy] is the cornerstone of everything that's good about Dublin," said the former Kerry footballer.

"He brings that edge, he brings the toughness. He's a Rolls Royce of a number five. He bombs up and down the field. He marks whoever he has to mark. Jack McCaffrey likewise.

"The one guy I put in at number five is Peter Harte - Tyrone's left-half-back, who has been made play in the forwards and things like that. But his proper position is left half-back. I think if he was played there, he would prove how valuable he is. But Tyrone have deficiencies in the forward line, which is why Peter has to go up there to sort some of that out."

"I did what was บาคาร่า Gclub! You said half-backs that are currently playing in that position. More or less, that's what I managed to do that pretty well," laughed Canavan, suggesting James McCarthy has played the majority of his football at midfield in recent years.

"Karl O'Connell at number five - Monaghan's resurgence is down to two or three key players. He's definitely one of them.

"Mayo's strength in recent years has been down to their half-back line. You have Lee Keegan and Paddy Durcan - he is just going from strength to strength. Going forward, he has an attacking game as well.

"Ryan McHugh at number three. When you have brains and you are a skilful footballer, it doesn't matter what size you are. And Ryan McHugh falls into that bracket.

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