Mighty Mac pips Awesome Andy for premier billing in our end-of-season awards
Frank Roche gives out his end of season awards after another thrilling summer for gaelic football.
FOOTBALLER OF THE YEAR
1. JAMES McCARTHY
HIS name wasn’t mentioned too frequently ahead of Sunday – or even at half-time in the final – but our argument is that people weren’t looking closely enough at McCarthy’s stellar consistency this year.
The Ballymun man was on our end-of-league All Star team and then, right through the championship, was a consistent eight-out-of-ten as Dublin romped through Leinster, then the All-Ireland quarter and semi-finals.
A superb wing-back who has made a seamless transition to the midfield engine room, McCarthy has all the physical attributes – power, aggression, excellent ball skills and a gliding acceleration that can leave rivals for dust.
But his mentality is just as critical. His decision-making is sound and he completes huge plays when most needed – none more crucial than those two second- half points against Mayo.
2. ANDY MORAN
Truth is, Footballer of the Year is a real marginal call. We won’t be surprised if Mayo’s eternal magician claims the official prize and nor would we begrudge him for the endless energy and intelligence of his runs and for his prolific finishing, 3-24 from play over Mayo’s marathon ten-match campaign.
3. PAUL MANNION
Our top two stick out from the crowd, then there’s a long queue with similarly strong claims for third spot. Our choice mightn’t resonate with everyone but Mannion has just enjoyed his most consistently dynamic season in Sky Blue. Even if you gloss over his magnificent 0-8 from play against Westmeath, his overall contribution in the All-Ireland series (his link play against Monaghan, his voracious tackling against Tyrone, his huge second half against Mayo) swings it for us.
YOUNG FOOTBALLER OF THE YEAR
No contest. You can’t exactly call him a new discovery because everyone suspected he was this good. But now, after his dozen points (six from play) against Kildare; his wonder goal against Tyrone and his impudent early strike against Mayo, we know for sure.
GOAL OF THE SEASON
(Editor’s Note: We feel the need to cheat. It may not have been an epic championship but we’re struggling to recall one that contained so many stunning goals. So, two categories, starting with the overall winner.)
1. CON O’CALLAGHAN (Dublin v Tyrone): The solo, the jink past one hapless defender ... and then that thunderbolt. As Marty Morrissey is wont to gush: “Take it out!”
2. CIAN CONNOLLY (Roscommon v Galway): The sublime, crossfield pass from Diarmuid Murtagh. The exquisite placed finish. Simplicity and beauty, hand in hand.
3. LEE KEEGAN (Mayo v Dublin): A wonderfully slick build-up, involving Aidan O’Shea, Cillian O’Connor and Andy Moran. Then Leeroy arriving like a steam train.
OUTRAGEOUS SOLO GOAL
1. RONAN O’NEILL (Tyrone v Down): An audacious lob straight out of the George Best ‘let’s take the mickey’ manual.
2. JAMIE CLARKE (Armagh v Tipp): A drop of the ball and dribble around the ‘keeper. Georgie again: and they say Ulster football is only for robots?
3. KEITH HIGGINS (Mayo v Roscommon): A solo burst that started in Ballyhaunis and finished in Ballybough.
POINT OF THE YEAR
1. DANIEL FLYNN (Kildare v Dublin): The electrifying solo run past a couple of Dubs was impressive ... the shot from near the Hogan Stand touchline that followed was borderline ridiculous.
2. DEAN ROCK (Dublin v Mayo): Lacks Flynn’s individual flourish but in terms of nerveless execution when the pressure is at its zenith and the GPS packs are flying, Dean’s All-Ireland winning free takes some beating.
3. COLM BOYLE (Mayo v Dublin): He’s more than just a wonderful defender. A one-two with Cillian O’Connor crowned by a brilliant outside of the boot finish from 40 metres.
SAVE OF THE YEAR
DAVID CLARKE (Mayo v Dublin, March): We’re going all the way back to March for Clarke’s incredible three-saves-for-the-price-of-one to deny Paddy Andrews from a penalty and two rebounds.
GAME OF THE YEAR
1 DUBLIN v MAYO
2 MAYO v KERRY (Draw)
3 MAYO v CORK
DEMOLITION OF THE YEAR
1 MAYO v ROSCOMMON (Replay)
2 DUBLIN v TYRONE
3 DUBLIN v WESTMEATH
CURSE OF THE MILLENNIUM
Mayo’s. God help them.