There have been some very worthy winners indeed of our coveted Footballer of the Year award since the Gaelic Life Club All Stars kicked into gear.
Last year it was Kilcoo star Miceal Rooney who took the honours, a man who will always be associated with his Hand of God moment in the All-Ireland final against Kilmacud Crokes. Others to take the title in recent years include Gaoth Dobhair’s Kevin Cassidy of this stable, and oh, a few Sleacht Néill lads like Brendan Rogers and Karl McKaigue.
The GL panel will sit down, lock heads and perhaps have a minor disagreement or two as we determine who will be announced as this year’s winner at the All-Star ceremony at the Hillgrove Hotel on March 10.
Naturally enough, a few Glen players will be in the running. Ryan Dougan, Ethan Doherty, Emmett Bradley, Conleth McGuckian and Michael Warnock have all made our final 15, and it’s fair to say they were elite footballers at the highest levels of this year’s Ulster and All-Ireland Club Championships.
McGuckin’s performance in the Ulster final was remarkable and he won the man of the match award as a result. Ryan Dougan held Paul Mannion scoreless in the final, Michael Warnock was a driving force throughout at centre-half back, Ethan Doherty a livewire up front. That’s not forgetting man-mountain Emmett Bradley, who was inspirational in the middle sector, especially when needed most.
Elsewhere, Galbally duo Liam Rafferty and Enda McGarrity delivered a streak of starring performances en route to a historic first ever All-Ireland Intermediate Championship, while in the Junior tier, Stewartstown’s Gareth Devlin and Drumlane’s Ryan Connolly were simply outstanding in attack. It’d be remiss not to miss the other contenders – last year’s big winners Kilcoo had another fine season despite missing out to Glen in the Ulster final and have three players, namely Ryan McEvoy, Aaron Branagan and Shealan Johnston on our final 15.
We’ll take everything into consideration when selecting a winner – leadership qualities, skill levels, even sportsmanship. It won’t be easy, but with such stiff competition, whoever gets the nod will have well and truly earned it.