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McStay: Alan a class apart

THE annual awards season will be upon us soon and as a nation we love nothing better than examining and debating lists where we look at the best players, managers, scores, teams, referees, screw-ups and so on.

The All Star awards never fail to surprise and the accompanying controversy usually lasts right up to Christmas.

This year will be especially difficult as there are many |stand-out performances and not much between the top performers from all around the country.

Each province can point to a handful plus of real stars in 2011, and when I counted the candidates that are sure to be considered I totalled it to 45 players from nine different counties.

I sat down 10 days ago to pick the RTé Sunday Game ‘Team of the Year’ and am not about to publish a different one today!

But suffice to say that when a committee sits to look back on the football year it is impossible |to get 100pc agreement on the starting 15. As a result selectors must compromise and it is that process that very often provides the surprises.

There will be no great debate about the senior Player of the Year winner.

In my mind, Dublin’s Alan Brogan (pictured above) is, |by a comfortable distance, the best player in the country this season.


He will succeed his brother Bernard and that is a wonderful achievement for the Brogan family.

When you search the record books you note only one player has ever won the award twice since its inception – the fabulously talented Trevor Giles of Meath. It is such a difficult award to win once but the great Giles gave a repeat performance in 1999.

The Manager of the Year needs no debate – the extremely impressive Pat Gilroy (Dublin) will take the gong. In a distant second place will be the innovative Jim McGuinness – hopefully he will have new plans for 2012.

The Young Player of the Year is a more open affair.

Ben Brosnan (Wexford), Rory O'Carroll (Dublin) Cillian O'Connor (Mayo) and Peter Harte (Tyrone) will be in the mix for this one and it is hard to make a call with any degree of certainty.

But if I'm pushed I would vote for O'Connor because of the pressure situations he faced when executing vital frees that won matches. He also threw in a cracker of a goal against Kerry in the semi-final.


There are two moments of the year that I will recall when reflecting over this season. Kevin Cassidy's wonder point that settled one of the great football contests of modern times was leading all the way until the final day of the season.

The senior championship finished in a frenzy of excitement and with almost the final kick of the season Dublin's goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton (pictured left) hit the winner from distance and secured the cup for the Dubs.

It might yet end up the Kick of the Century!