STAR MAN Ger McDonagh of Castlebar Mitchels is pictured with the Willie McNeela Trophy after winning the Club Stars ‘Senior Footballer of the Year’ award last Friday night. Also in the picture was Anthony Daly (Guest of Honour). Pic: Michael McLaughlin
GER McDonagh was named Senior Footballer of the Year at the 13th annual Mayo News/O’Neills Club Stars Charity Banquet in Knockranny House Hotel, Westport on Friday night.
The talented Castlebar Mitchels defender, who kicked the winning point in last November’s Mayo SFC Final win over Ballintubber, was one of around 20 players who travelled to the awards ceremony from Mayo training in Ballina.
McDonagh accepted the Willie McNeela Perpetual Trophy, donated by Midwest Radio, from special guest Anthony Daly. He was selected for the honour after being short-listed alongside team-mate Paddy Durcan and Ballintubber’s Alan Dillon.
McDonagh also ended up at full-back on the Team of the Year, winning his second successive Club Stars award in the process.
He was an ever-present in the Castlebar Mitchels backline during their seven-game run to a three-in-a-row of county titles.
“Mitchels spent 20 years without winning a county title until 2014, so to win our first one was huge,” McDonagh told the capacity crowd. “I didn’t think I would be standing here having won four in five years.
“Everyone has different things going on in their lives, we lost 14 players between 2014 and 2016, but Castlebar Mitchels keep bringing players back.
“It’s a good place to be around, and we are really enjoying the process.”
McDonagh wasn’t shy about outlining his plans for 2018 either.
“When I write down my goals for the year, club is first and foremost,” he said. “With Castlebar Mitchels, three in a row is great and we will look to build on that.
“Secondly, personally, I will be looking to get a good shot with Mayo, please God. Just looking to get some game time, putting myself out there.
“I believe I am good enough to do a job for the team.”
All proceeds from the banquet, which was run in association with AIB, will go to Enable Ireland Mayo Services, who provide services for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
Ger McDonagh was one of eight Castlebar Mitchels players named in the Club Stars Team of the Year, which honours the cream of Mayo club footballers for their performances in the 2017 championship.
The versatile defender was joined on the first 15 by Rory Byrne, Donie Newcombe, Paddy Durcan, Barry Moran, David Stenson and Danny Kirby while Cian Costello was among the five replacements selected.
Five players from beaten senior finalists Ballintubber were among the 20 picked by Seán Rice (The Mayo News), John Casey (RTÉ Radio analyst), Eamon Clarke (former Knockmore manager) and Austin Garvin (The Mayo News) out of the nominees short-listed.
They were Michael Plunkett, Jason Gibbons, Alan Dillon, Cillian O’Connor and Gary Loftus.
Garrymore and Claremorris both had two players among the 20. Wing-back Trevor Nally and Jamie Oates represented Garry’ while centre-back James McCormack and James Shaughnessy were chosen from the other county semi-finalists.
Two other clubs had players selected on the first 15, which included Knockmore’s Kevin McLoughlin and Kevin Feerick from Hollymount/Carramore.
Westport’s Mayo under-21-winning captain Niall McManamon – nominated alongside team-mate Colm Moran and Ryan O’Donoghue from Belmullet – was selected as the Young Player of the Year, an award sponsored by ‘Liam Feeney Cars’.
Andy Moran, who won Footballer of the Year in 2017, was named Personality of the Year.
Brian Reape edged out Moy Davitts club-mate Chris McGlynn and Kiltimagh’s Liam Lydon for the Intermediate Player of the Year Award. Lahardane attacker Adrian Leonard was named Junior Player of the Year ahead of club-mate Barry Leonard and Kilmaine’s Jarlath Mullin.
The Carnacon ladies, Westport GAA and Tooreen Hurling Club all picked up the Special Achievement Awards after winning historic titles in 2017.
Meanwhile, Tooreen’s Joe Henry received the Hurling Recognition Award, sponsored by Jim Hogan Couriers, for a stellar career with both club and county.
He was presented with the Adrian Freeman Perpetual Trophy, by the late Tooreen hurler’s father, Seamus, and special guest Anthony Daly.
Cillian O’Connor got the Golden Boot as the top scorer in the Mayo Senior Championship, while Brian Reape was the top scorer in the Mayo Intermediate Championship.
There were joint winners of the Managers of the Year – Lahardane’s John Maughan and Castlebar Mitchels’ joint managers Declan O’Reilly and Declan Shaw, who both guided their respective teams to historic county titles.
Kilmaine’s PJ McGrath, who was chairman of the Mayo GAA Board from 1997 to 2002, was a popular choice for the Hall of Fame honour.
Tuar Mhic Éadaigh CLG were presented with the Volunteer of the Year award and received the Séan Staunton Memorial Trophy.