STAR STRIKER Jordan Loftus of Castlebar Celtic was presented with the ‘Footballer of the Year’ award by Gerry Tully (Connacht FA) at the Mayo Football League annual presentation dinner. Pic: Michael Donnelly
SUPER LEAGUE champions Castlebar Celtic, Conn Rangers, and Ballina Town were the big winners at the Mayo Football League presentation dinner last Saturday night as the curtain came down on another memorable season.
Taking place in the famous Castlecourt Hotel in Westport, players, coaches, volunteers and everyone who makes Mayo soccer tick were treated to a lovely occasion, very impressively organised by Gerry Sweeney and John Durcan of the Mayo League.
Although the season was hard fought and tense across all the divisions, bitter rivals put on-field tensions aside to celebrate.
Castlebar Celtic’s superstar striker Jordan Loftus marked his return to Mayo football in style, claiming both the Super League’s Golden Boot, with an incredible 28 goals, as well as the Footballer of the Year award after inspiring his Celtic side to a first league title since 2011.
Loftus dedicated the award to his team-mates, saying ‘the award could have been given to any one’ of them and explaining that his goals and performances were merely ‘a product of the team’.
The former Finn Harps man struck an incredible six hat-tricks in his last seven games, and overcame early season injuries to show his class and character.
Ballina Town stalwart Gerry Knight was inducted into the Mayo League ‘Hall of Fame’, while the brilliant Myra Deacy of Straide and Foxford United and Harry Reilly of Iorras Aontaithe were presented with the Henry Downes ‘Service to Football’ awards.
Reilly worked for 25 years as club secretary, and ‘kept plugging away with support from the local community’, as emigration proved problematic for the Erris club over the years.
Conn Rangers were named ‘Club of the Year’ after a brilliant year on all fronts.
The flashy Rokas Mikukis of Claremorris was awarded ‘Goal of the Season’ for his wonder strike against Westport United back in May, with the Lithuanian starlet capping off his debut season in style.
“I am proud to receive this award as it was one of my first goals for the club,” he told The Mayo News. “After this goal I became more confident and it helped me settle into the team”. Mikukis would go on to finish the season with a very impressive 14 goals, tied for third place.
Elsewhere, Lorraine Ryder of Newport/Mulranny Wanderers won ‘Club Person of The Year’, while Seán O’Sullivan of Conn Rangers picked up ‘PRO of the Year’.
Castlebar Celtic’s Michael McNicholas was deservedly named ‘Manager of the Year’, after masterminding the club’s run to their first Super League crown since 2011.
There was special recognition for the county’s outstanding international representation, with Westport’s Cillian McGlade, Gary Cunningham and Darren Browne, along with Manulla’s Gerry Canavan, triumphing with Connacht/Ulster over Leinster/Munster to represent the Republic of Ireland amateur side.
Meanwhile, Ballina Town’s Tommy Forde will be flying off to Manchester to attend a Premier League match after winning the Under-19 ‘Player of the Year’, with the central midfielder also winning €200 in spending money.
On a night of celebration, there was also a poignant aspect to the evening as the ‘Posthumous Award’ was presented to the Mulchrone family from Westport, after the tragic death of Westport Utd player, Adam earlier this year. The emotion in the room was palpable.
Special guests in attendance included the Deputy Leader of Fianna Fail, Dara Calleary from Ballina, whose speech was refreshing and honest, while Ballina Town goalkeeper and local councillor, Mark Duffy, thanked the Mayo League shortly and sweetly.
Elsewhere, Westport United wizard Darren Browne won ‘Super League Player of the Year’, Conor Quinn of the unbeaten Ballina Town ‘B’ was the ‘Premier League Player of the Year’, Mark McNally of Westport United ‘B’ won the ‘League One Player of the Year’ and Moy Villa’s Ciarán Gaughan picked up the ‘League Two Player of the Year’.
In the Mayo Masters Divisions, Claremorris stalwart David Grant was crowned ‘Division Two Player of the Year’ as well as top scorer, with Westport United’s Danny Scahill winning the ‘Division One Player of the Year’ accolade.