TOP PLAYER Club Stars Senior Footballer of the Year Jason Gibbons from Ballintubber was presented with the Willie McNeela Perpetual Trophy by special guest Marc Ó Sé and Martin McIntyre of the SISM Clinic (category sponsors). Pic: Michael Donnelly
BALLINTUBBER’S Jason Gibbons was named Senior Footballer of the Year at the 15th annual Club Stars awards with AIB, The Mayo News and O’Neills in Westport on Saturday night.
The experienced Ballintubber midfielder, who was one of the major driving forces behind the Abbeysiders retaining their Mayo SFC Final title last season, was chosen for the accolade after a superb 2019 season.
Gibbons accepted the Willie McNeela Perpetual Trophy from special guest Marc Ó Sé and category sponsor, Martin McIntyre of the SISM Clinic. He was selected for the honour after being short-listed alongside team-mate Michael Plunkett and Ballaghaderreen’s Andy Moran.
Gibbons was also selected at midfield on the Team of the Year, winning his third Club Stars award in a row in the process.
“I’ve been coming here since 2009, and I’ve seen the likes of Richie Feeney and Dillo [Alan Dillon] coming up here over the years. . I’ve always looked up to them when they played.
“So it’s a huge honour to receive this award, I’m delighted. Kevin Johnson has been a huge influence on me over the last few years so I owe a lot to him.
On the prospect of winning an historic three in a row of county titles with Ballintubber in 2020, he had this to say: “The field is levelling out in Mayo. The intensity that Ballaghaderreen brought to the county final was a different level to what we got all year. You have Castlebar, Breaffy, Knockmore, Garrymore - it’s going to be a huge task.
“And sitting down there with a group of Ballintubber lads who are 17 or 18, I feel like an auld fella!” he laughed. “But I’ll go again and we’ll see what happens.”
Proceeds from the banquet will go to the Mayo Roscommon Hospice, with CEO Martina Jennings telling the capacity crowd at last Saturday night’s event that the sod was turned on a Hospice Unit in Roscommon last Friday.
Jason Gibbons 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 2019 championship.
He was joined on the first 15 by Gary Loftus, Michael Plunkett, Cillian O’Connor and Stephen O’Malley while Damien Coleman and Ciaran Gavin were named among the five replacements.
Seven players from beaten senior finalists Ballagh’ 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 David Drake, Owen Jordan, Ryan Lynch, Cormac Doohan, Andy Moran, Shairoze Akram and Cian Hanley.
Castlebar Mitchels had three players in the first XV — goalkeeper Rory Byrne, Paddy Durcan and Neil Douglas, whose dad, Ian, accepted the award on his behalf.
Meanwhile, Ballina Stephenites duo Padraig O’Hora and Ciaran Treacy also made the first XV while The Neale’s Tommy Conroy completed the replacements.
History was made when the aforementioned Conroy and Oisin Mullin from Kilmaine were selected as the joint winners of the ‘Young Player of the Year’ award.
Elsewhere, Seanie Cosgrove edged out his Neale team-mate Tommy Conroy for the Intermediate Player of the Year award.
Castlebar Mitchels captain Eamonn Tiernan was named Junior Player of the Year.
Tooreen Hurling Club picked up a Special Achievement Award after retaining their Mayo senior championship title and claiming the Connacht Intermediate crown.
Meanwhile, Tipperary native Tony Stakelum of Castlebar Mitchels Hurling club received the Outstanding Contribution to Hurling Award.
He was presented with the Adrian Freeman Perpetual Trophy, by the late Tooreen hurler’s sister, Louise, and special guest Marc Ó Sé.
Neil Douglas, Andy Moran and James Shaughnessy were tied for the Golden Boot as the top scorer in the Mayo Senior Championship, while Seánie Cosgrove from The Neale was the top scorer in the Mayo Intermediate Championship.
There were joint winners of the Manager of the Year – Ballintubber’s Kevin Johnson and The Neale’s Eoin Hughes, who both guided their respective teams to historic county titles.
Meanwhile, Bertie McHugh from Garrymore, a former President of the Mayo GAA Board, was a popular choice for the Hall of Fame honour and received a standing ovation.
Austin Henry from Tooreen also got a great reaction when he accepted the Supporter of the Year award.
Eastern Gaels GAA club was presented with the Volunteers of the Year award and received the Séan Staunton Memorial Trophy.
And Ger Cafferkey of Ballina Stephenites was the second winner of the ‘Spirit of Mayo -Personality of the Year’ award and received the Neill O’Neill Memorial Trophy.
Did you know?
CILLIAN O’Connor was winning his fifth Club Stars award in six seasons.