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Higgins tops Intermediate poll

Sport

IN FULL FLIGHT Keith Higgins is pictured in action for Ballyhaunis. Pic Conor McKeown

Feature

Edwin McGreal

THE best and most successful dual player in the history of Ballyhaunis GAA club, Keith Higgins, has been selected as the number one intermediate club footballer in Mayo.
The four-time All Star defender has been singled out for top spot by our judges in the ‘Top 30 Intermediate’ players of the inaugural Mayo News Top 100 Club Footballers.
Higgins pipped Burrishoole forward Jason Doherty to first place with just ten points separating the two Mayo team-mates.
Both players were repeatedly ranked very highly by our 16 judges, representing the 16 intermediate clubs in Mayo.
Over half of the judges picked Higgins as their number one but Doherty, a free scoring forward for many years at Intermediate level, also ranked highly throughout and stayed on Higgins’ tail all the way.
Our scoring system saw each judge’s first pick get 30 points all the way down to their 30th pick receiving one point. With 480 points on offer, Higgins received a staggering 466 points with Doherty coming in with an impressive 456.
The list is full of quality footballers with a total of 14 clubs represented.
Comfortably coming in third is Hollymount/Carramore sharpshooter Darren Coen, followed by his club-mate and cousin Stephen Coen.
Another Mayo player, Jordan Flynn of Crossmolina, completes the top five.
The top five were comfortably clear from the rest of the field.
Flynn, with 357 points, was well clear of sixth place, taken by his club and county team-mate Conor Loftus, with 272 points.
Completing the top ten were Mayo Gaels’ talisman Adam Gallagher, Louisburgh playmaker Kevin Gibbons, promising Ballinrobe midfielder Evan O’Brien and dynamic Ballyhaunis defender Eoghan Collins, who has represented Clare at senior inter-county level in recent years.
Eoghan Lavin was the highest Kiltimagh player, in 11th followed by Crossmolina’s Fionán Duffy, Ballyhaunis’ Jack Coyne, Cian Burke of Ardnaree and Padraig Prendergast of Louisburgh.
Former Mayo midfielder Barry Moran – who played most of his football last year with Castlebar Mitchels B and was therefore considered at this grade – is picked at 16th with Ardnaree’s Conor Naylor, Conor Walsh of Balla, Ardnaree’s Eoin McCormack and Parke veteran Simon Cloherty completing the top 20.
Padraig O’Malley of Louisburgh was next followed by Seán Walsh (Kiltimagh), Matthew Flanagan (Balla), Conor Igoe (Bonniconlon) and Barry Duffy (Balla).
The final five to make the cut were Éamon Phillips (Ballyhaunis), Kevin Quinn (Ballinrobe), Padraig Feerick (Hollymount/Carramore), Adrian Leonard (Lahardane) and Cathal Carolan (Crossmolina).
Carolan, a former Mayo forward, picked up a total of 72 points and three players were within three points of him. Just missing out were Kevin Feerick (Hollymount/Carramore), Stephen Duffy (Crossmolina) and Peter Collins (Islandeady).
Islandeady and Swinford were the two clubs to miss out on making the list. Collins polled strongest for them while it could be argued that relatively high votes for team-mates of his such as Darragh Joyce, Seamie Lally and Brendan Gibbons split the votes accruing to Islandeady.
Liam Moran of Swinford was their highest ranked player but not high enough to make the list.
Other players who passed the 50 point mark but missed out on the top 30 were: John Gallagher (Mayo Gaels), Alan Ryder, James Moran (both Burrishoole), John Cunnane (Ballyhaunis), Joe Dawson (Louisburgh), Fintan McManamon (Burrishoole), Liam Lydon and Donovan Cosgrove (both Kiltimagh).
Judges could pick from their own clubs and those judges who are still playing were able to pick themselves if they wished, so those who did not put themselves at a disadvantage.
The structure of the format meant that with 30 points being the maximum a judge could award a player, and with 72 points being the minimum needed to make this top 30, a player needed to be rated by several judges to stand a chance.
Like our Junior selections, the picks made by our judges demonstrated a considerable lack of bias which was no surprise to use when you look at their credentials and experience.
In their number are six former Mayo senior footballers; and eight of our judges have experience of being involved in Sweeney Cup intermediate championship winning teams as players or as part of management. Our judges have a cumulative total of over 100 years experience playing intermediate football!
Nine are still playing intermediate football while three more are currently managing at that level.  
Put simply, our intermediate judges know the grade like the back of their hands and that was readily apparent in their selections.
We are extremely grateful to all of them for their time and their insights. ll of them for their time and their insight.

What do you think?
LET us know your top 30 intermediate club footballers on our social media channels.

Next week
AS our Top 100 Club Footballers series continues, next week we will start the countdown for our top 50 Senior club footballers by revealing numbers 50-26. Want to have a go? Send us your selections to see how they compare with our judges’ selections.
E-mail sport@mayonews.ie, tweet us @mayonewssport or post a comment on the Mayo News Sport Facebook page.

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