Jack Bryant wins Eirgrid U-20 Player of the Year as Offaly sweep awards

Offaly forward Jack Bryant has been named U-20 Player of the Year. Image Credit: Sportsfile.

Frank Roche

OFFALY have swept the boards in the end-of-season awards to celebrate this year’s EirGrid U-20 All-Ireland football championship.

The Faithful’s red-hot forward, Jack Bryant, has been named as the EirGrid U-20 Player of the Year while team boss Declan Kelly is the competition sponsor’s Manager of the Year.

The newly crowned champions also lead the way in the annual EirGrid 20 U-20 awards, with six Offaly footballers named among the 20 standout performers in this year’s championship.

Kelly’s heroes created history last month when defeating Roscommon in the Croke Park decider, securing Offaly’s first All-Ireland football title in the U-20/U-21 grade since 1988. This came after thrilling victories over a fancied Dublin in the Leinster final and then Cork at the semi-final stage.

Having played a critical role throughout the competition, as well as scoring the crucial goal against Roscommon, Bryant has been awarded with the top individual accolade.

Meanwhile, Kelly is recognised for his stewardship of an electrifying team that created history while fuelling hopes of a brighter senior future for a county that has long fallen from the All-Ireland peaks of the early 1970s and ’82.

Offaly’s stellar campaign is reflected in the inclusion of Lee Pearson, John Furlong, Cathal Flynn, Cathal Donoghue, Cormac Egan and Bryant among the top 20 performers of 2021.

All-Ireland finalists Roscommon have four representatives while there are three apiece from Ulster champions Down and Munster kingpins Cork, with the remaining four slots going to Dublin’s Rory Dwyer, Tipperary’s Seán O'Connor, Seán Jones of Monaghan and Ruairí Keane of Mayo.

The EirGrid 20 U-20 and Player of The Year awards have been here for seven years, while the EirGrid Manager of The Year award has been running for three years with all recipients chosen by the Gaelic Writers Association.

Congratulating all the award winners, GAA president Larry McCarthy said: “The players are following a well-worn and proven pathway in making the step from underage to senior status, and football's rich history shows how these competitions help nurture and develop the senior stars of tomorrow. I look forward to seeing these young stars progress in the near future.”

Michael Mahon, Chief Infrastructure Officer at EirGrid, said it was fitting that the player and manager of the year award winners hail from Offaly “given their remarkable journey this season.”

EIRGRID 20 U-20: Tom Smyth (Down), Charlie Smyth (Down), Lee Pearson (Offaly), John Furlong (Offaly), Colin Walsh (Roscommon), Paddy Gavin (Roscommon), Diarmaid Phelan (Cork), Ruairí Keane (Mayo), Rory Dwyer (Dublin), Cathal Flynn (Offaly), Cathal Donoghue (Offaly), Cormac Egan (Offaly), Jack Bryant (Offaly), Daire Cregg (Roscommon), James Fitzpatrick (Roscommon), Seán Jones (Monaghan), Shealan Johnston (Down), Jack Cahalane (Cork), David Buckley (Cork), Seán O'Connor (Tipperary).