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Diarmuid O’Connor named top player

Sport

THE MAIN MANDiarmuid O’Connor from Ballintubber is pictured after being presented with the Club Stars ‘Senior Footballer of the Year’ award last Saturday night. Martin McIntyre (SISM Clinic, category sponsor) and Nicky English (special guest) are also pictured. Pic: Michael McLaughlin

Mike Finnerty


DIARMUID O’Connor was named Senior Footballer of the Year at the 14th annual Club Stars awards with AIB, The Mayo News and O’Neills in Westport on Saturday night.
The talented Ballintubber midfielder, who kicked the winning point in last October’s Mayo SFC Final win over Breaffy, was chosen by judges John Casey, Nigel Reape, Austin Garvin and Seán Rice after a superb 2018 season.
O’Connor accepted the Willie McNeela Perpetual Trophy from special guest Nicky English. He was selected for the honour after being short-listed alongside team-mate Jason Gibbons and Breaffy’s Aidan O’Shea.
O’Connor was also selected at midfield on the Team of the Year, winning his first Club Stars award as a member of the first XV in the process.
“I’m six years playing with Ballintubber now, my individual performances were a bit up and down over the last five seasons, so thankfully a bit more consistent in 2018,” O’Connor told the huge crowd in Knockranny House Hotel.
“I love playing with the club and the lads” he added.
“We timed it right this year, come the latter stages of the championship we kind of pushed on.
“There was so little between us and Mitchels, and us and Breaffy, it was great just to get the bit of luck to get over the line. Winning a county title with your club is always special.”
In terms of goals for 2019, O’Connor admitted that he was more interested in ‘the moment’ than setting long-term aims.
“I’ve always believed that you have to be in the present moment, and focus on being ready for the training session or the game in front of you.
“So I’m going to push hard for the next few weeks, try and improve as every week goes by, and build on from there.”
Proceeds from the banquet will go to the Mayo Roscommon Hospice, who are in the process of building a 14-bed unit in Castlebar.
Diarmuid O’Connor was one of seven Ballintubber players named in the Club Stars Team of the Year, which honours the cream of Mayo club footballers for their performances in the 2018 championship.
He was joined on the first 15 by Brian Murphy, Damien Coleman, Michael Plunkett, Jason Gibbons, Alan Dillon and Cillian O’Connor.
Four players from beaten senior finalists Breaffy were among the 20 picked by Seán Rice (The Mayo News), John Casey (RTÉ Radio analyst), Nigel Reape (former Knockmore manager) and Austin Garvin (The Mayo News) out of the nominees short-listed.
They were Rob Hennelly, James Minogue, Aidan O’Shea and Conor O’Shea.
Ballaghaderreen had three players among the 20 — corner-back David Drake and replacements Seamus Cunniffe and Andy Moran, while Paddy Durcan, Neil Douglas and Ger McDonagh represented Castlebar Mitchels.
Wing-forward Ryan O’Donoghue from Belmullet was named at wing-forward with Garrymore’s Gary Golden and Brian Reape (Moy Davitts) completing the replacements.
Belmullet’s Ryan O’Donoghue, who captained his club to a county Intermediate championship and also skippered the Mayo Under-20s in 2018, was selected as the Young Player of the Year.
James Kelly edged out Belmullet club-mate O’Donoghue and Burrishoole’s Jason Doherty for the Intermediate Player of the Year award.
Balla captain Conor Walsh was named Junior Player of the Year ahead of club-mate Val Roughneen and Achill’s Eddie Doran.
The Westport ladies Intermediate team up a Special Achievement Awards after winning an historic county title in 2018.
Meanwhile, former North Mayo manager Jim Martin received the Outstanding Contribution to Hurling Award.
He was presented with the Adrian Freeman Perpetual Trophy, by the late Tooreen hurler’s father, Seamus, and special guest Nicky English.
Cillian O’Connor got the Golden Boot as the top scorer in the Mayo Senior Championship, while John Gallagher from Mayo Gaels was the top scorer in the Mayo Intermediate Championship.
There were two winners of the Managers of the Year – Ballintubber’s Kevin Johnson and Tooreen Hurling Club’s Paul Hunt, who both guided their respective teams to historic county titles.
Meanwhile, Paddy Muldoon, a former chairman of the Mayo GAA Board, was a popular choice for the Hall of Fame honour and received a standing ovation.
Toby McWalter from Balla also got a great reaction when he accepted the inaugural Supporter of the Year award.
Joe Reapy was presented with the Volunteer of the Year award and received the Séan Staunton Memorial Trophy.
And Tom Parsons became the first winner of the Neill O’Neill Memorial Trophy as Personality of the Year.

 

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