Young Dub Byrne scoops overall award
Very few counties could afford the luxury of not having the EirGrid U-21 Player of the Year among their senior ranks but that is the case with Dublin's Aaron Byrne, who scooped the national award yesterday.
Dublin's strength in depth is such that Byrne was not selected to step up to Jim Gavin's three-in-a-row-seeking squad despite a brilliant U-21 campaign en route to All-Ireland honours, and the free-scoring forward is instead jetting off to Colombia.
Last year it was Australia, and because of the nature of the Dublin SFC, Byrne's club, Na Fianna, have already been put out to pasture for the rest of the championship season. They were beaten by last year's Leinster champions, St Vincent's, but he enjoys the "cut throat" nature of it and feels that's the reason why club sides from the capital continue to be successful.
"I wasn't really expecting to have a year like this. I had a holiday booked long ago and I didn't hear anything from the senior set-up so I'm happy to go away. It's been hard at it for the year so it's nice to get the break," Byrne said. "The Dublin championship is tough but I haven't heard too much talk of people wanting to change it. We know going in it's all or nothing and that's why it is so competitive because there's no second chance. It's like the U-21 in that way and that has been a good recipe for great great games down through the years."
Making a senior breakthrough like club-mates Jonny Cooper and Conor McHugh is high on the priority list for the DCU student but having sat out the Sigerson Cup, this year was all about the reaching the holy grail with the U-21 side, the final game played in that grade.
Byrne was one of eight Dubs to pick up 'EirGrid 21 U-21 awards', finalists Galway collected five including full-back Seán Andy Ó Ceallaigh, while provincial champions Donegal and Kerry took three each with beaten provincial finalist Sligo and Offaly taking the remaining honours.
EirGrid '21' U-21 award recipients
E Comerford (Dublin), R Ó Beoláin (Galway); E Murchan (Dublin), C Murphy (Dublin), C O'Shea (Dublin), SA Ó Ceallaigh (Galway), C McDaid (Galway), B Ó Beaglaoich (Kerry), EB Gallagher (Donegal); B Howard (Dublin), A Barry (Kerry), P Cooke (Galway), D Cummins (Sligo); A Byrne (Dublin), C O'Callaghan (Dublin), G O'Reilly (Dublin), M Carroll (Donegal), M Langan (Donegal), M Daly (Galway), M Flaherty (Kerry), S Tierney (Offaly).