The GAA/GPA All-Star awards ceremony took place this evening in Dublin’s Convention Centre. As well as the All-Star awards collected by David Clarke, Brendan Harrison, Lee Keegan and Colm Boyle, the county enjoyed unprecedented double success in the individual awards, with Lee winning the Footballer of the Year award and Diarmuid O’Connor winning a second successive Young Footballer of the Year gong.
As well as becoming the first player not just from Mayo but also from Connacht to pick up four All-Stars, Lee now becomes the first Mayo player to win the Footballer of the Year accolade. A bit like David Clarke’s All-Star, there’s a wistful what-might-have-been element to Lee’s winning the FOTY award, in light of the unjust way his involvement in the All-Ireland final replay was ended prematurely, to say nothing of the crude smear campaign waged by Dublin in the run-up to the rematch in order to engineer such an outcome.
Despite this, however, it’s still a fantastic individual achievement for the Westport man, which, along with his fourth All-Star award, confirms his standing in the national game. We’re truly privileged to have a performer of his class in our ranks.
I hope there’s a big mantlepiece in the O’Connor household. By picking up his second successive YFOTY award, Diarmuid has now emulated big brother Cillian, who bagged the same award in successive years, winning it in 2011 and 2012. Although injury curtailed Diarmuid’s effectiveness in the latter stages of this year’s championship, it was still a year to remember for the young Ballintubber man, not least given his starring role in the county’s U21 All-Ireland success.
Congrats to all the lads on their well-deserved awards. Special congrats to Leeroy – what a player, what a leader, what a man.