Richie Feeney wins top gong
RICHIE Feeney was named Senior Footballer of the Year at the ninth annual Mayo News/O’Neills Club Stars Charity Banquet in Knockranny House Hotel, Westport on Saturday night.
The Castlebar Mitchels player was short-listed alongside team-mates Barry Moran and Neil Douglas and got the nod from the four-man judging panel – Seán Rice (The Mayo News), Eamon Clarke (former Knockmore manager), Austin Garvin (The Mayo News) and John Casey (Midwest Radio analyst).
He was presented with the Willie McNeely Perpetual Trophy by the special guest, Kerry’s Darragh Ó Sé. It capped a great year for Feeney, who was winning the award for the second time and was described by Trevor Watson of O’Neills as ‘the driving force’ of the Castlebar Mitchels team, who ‘came into his own this year’.
“Without the club, you wouldn’t be anywhere,” he told Master of Ceremonies Mike Finnerty.
The versatile Mayo player said it was ‘special’ for Mitchels to ‘finally get there this year’ and win the Moclair Cup after a 20-year absence with the lads he’d grown up with and played football all his life. ‘Relief’ was his over-riding emotion at the end of this year’s county final.
All proceeds from the banquet, which was run in association with AIB, will go to Enable Ireland. Mary Mulryan, the organisation’s Community Fund-raising Co-ordinator, said she was ‘very proud’ and ‘quite emotional’ to speak at the event, as ‘without the people of Mayo’, it ‘would not be possible’ for Enable Ireland to provide the services they do for children and young adults with physical, sensory and other disabilities.
Feeney 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 2012 championship. He was joined on the first 15 by Tom Cunniffe, Eoghan O’Reilly, Patrick Durcan, Barry Moran, Neil Douglas and Niall Lydon, while club captain Donal Newcombe was among the five replacements selected.
Seven players from beaten senior finalists Breaffy were among those picked by the judges out of the 32 nominees short-listed. They were Rob Hennelly, Micheál Jennings, Aidan O’Shea, Gerry Jennings, Liam Irwin and replacements Seamus O’Shea and Alan Durcan.
County semi-finalists Knockmore had three players in the 20 – full-back Shane McHale, wing forward Kevin McLoughlin, and Kieran Langan among the replacements. Kiltane attacker Mikie Sweeney completed the first 15, while Charlestown’s Tom Parsons was chosen among the replacements.
Patrick Durcan (Castlebar Mitchels) – nominated alongside Brian Heneghan (Moy Davitts), Liam Irwin (Breaffy) and Conor Loftus (Crossmolina) – was selected as the Young Player of the Year, an award sponsored by the Mayo Sports Clinic in Ballina.
Mikie Sweeney edged out Kiltane team-mates Jason Healy and John Reilly for the Intermediate Player of the Year Award. Cill Chomáin’s Rory Ginty was named Junior Player of the Year ahead of club-mates Brendan McAndrew and James McAndrew.
Kiltane were out in force as they picked up a Special Achievement Award marking their victories in the Mayo and Connacht Intermediate Championships.
Breaffy’s Alan Durcan got the Golden Boot as the top scorer in the Mayo Senior Championship, while Darren Duffy (Aghamore) was the top scorer from play. Kilmaine’s Joey Maloney was the top scorer in the Mayo Intermediate Championship for the second year in a row, while Mikie Sweeney was the top scorer from play.
Pat Holmes was named Manager of the Year for guiding Castlebar Mitchels to the Moclair Cup, while Mayo’s All-Ireland-winning minor manager Enda Gilvarry was chosen as the Personality of the Year. Tooreen manager Jackie Coyne got the very first Hurling Recognition Award, sponsored by Jim Hogan Couriers, while Former GAA President Dr Mick Loftus (Crossmolina) was the inaugural winner of the Hall of Fame Award.