THE EYES HAVE IT Castlebar Mitchels’ Barry Moran and Ballintubber’s Cillian O’Connor shake hands before the start of the 2017 Mayo SFC Final. They both made it into our Top 100 Mayo club footballer rankings. Pic: Conor McKeown
THE high standard of club football in Mayo was underscored by selections in our inaugural Mayo News Top 100 Club Footballers series in recent weeks.
Being a county man was no guarantee of approval from our judges from the 47 adult football clubs in Mayo. By and large, county form was placed to one side and judges made their selections based on how players played between the white lines at club level.
While three county men – Cillian O’Connor, Keith Higgins and Oisin Mullin – topped their respective Senior, Intermediate and Junior lists, plenty of other county footballers were well down the lists and more did not make it at all.
It is probably best illustrated by the final five to make the top 50 at senior level.
Between them, Seamie O’Shea, Cian Hanley, Tom Parsons, Rob Hennelly and Ger Cafferkey have played in a total of 37 senior championship campaigns with Mayo, but that was not the criteria for selection and they all ended up just making the Top 50 in the combined opinions of our judges.
Non-Mayo county men like Neil Douglas and Jason Gibbons made the highly competitive top ten at senior level. At intermediate level Adam Gallagher, Kevin Gibbons, Evan O’Brien and Eoghan Collins made the top ten while among the top five at junior level were non-county men like Justin Healy, Micheál Forde and Eddie Doran.
High calibre of judges
OUR judges were asked to make their selections on the basis of who they felt the best club footballers were on the basis of recent club form heading into the 2020 season.
And it’s fair to say they stuck to the brief.
We wondered, too, about whether to allow judges to vote for players from their own club. Many people can be guilty of bias to their own but we also felt no one knew the unsung hero like their own club-mate who would be seeing them week in, week out.
Our judges were extremely considered in their selections and left club loyalties at the door. No judge had a substantial difference in the number he picked from his own club, and how many from his club ended up in the overall selections.
There were remarkable consistencies in players emerging at the top of each judge’s selections too which proved loyalties were set aside. The cream rose to the top, consistently.
Of course, these are all opinions and different people will have different views, but we feel that judges from every club at each grade makes the selections thorough and hard to find too much fault with. Especially when you look at the calibre of our judges.
Pick 16 different senior judges from the 16 clubs and we think you might only see small variables in the final top 50 senior footballers.
It was also interesting to note how up-to-date the selections were. Players who might have been very consistent club footballers for a decade up until the last couple of years did not tend to rank highly. By and large, if players were not on form in 2019, they suffered.
Therefore, we’ve no doubt we would see more changes in a year’s time based on most recent form – that’s if we see club championship in the meantime, of course!
There were a couple of interesting trends and results in selections at senior level.
Claremorris’s Conor Diskin can consider himself somewhat unlucky not to make the top 50. A total of nine judges placed him in their Top 50, which is more than several players who made it. However, most of Diskin’s selections were in the lower numbers – six of the nine ranked him between 40 and 50 – so he did not build up enough accumulative points to make the grade. In fact, with 109 points, he was a sizeable amount off it.
Tommy Conroy from The Neale was one of the most consistent selections. He finished up in 17th place and eleven judges scored him between 15th and 25th.
By contrast, his Mayo team-mate Lee Keegan was arguably the player judges found hardest to place. The 2016 Footballer of the Year finished two places behind Conroy, in 19th position. Five judges placed the Westport man in their top ten, another four judges placed him in their final ten (41-50) while two judges did not place him in their top 50 at all.
WHILE there were some very tight gaps between the final player to make it and those just missing out at intermediate and junior, there was more of a gap at senior.
At Junior, only one point separated Conor Gilvarry and James Gallagher (19th and 20th) from Ballycastle’s Fergal Forde (21st). At Intermediate just three points separated Cathal Carolan (30th) from Kevin Feerick, Stephen Duffy and Peter Collins.
At Senior, meanwhile, Ger Cafferkey was 50th with 159 points, ten points ahead of Ballaghaderreen’s Owen Jordan on 149 points while Castlebar’s Ger McDonagh was next with 148 points. Jordan and McDonagh were certainly very unlucky to miss out.
There was another 20 points of a gap to the player in 53rd place, Charlestown’s Jack Reilly, with 128 points. Others to clear the 100 point barrier but miss out on the top 50 included Gary Boylan (Belmullet), Seamus Cunniffe (Ballaghaderreen), Trevor Nally (Garrymore), Peter Naughton (Knockmore), Conor Diskin (Claremorris) and Gary Golden (Garrymore).
How the points were allocated were simple. At Junior we asked our 15 judges from the 15 exclusive Junior clubs to pick their top 20. Whoever they picked at number one received 20 points, all the way down to their 20th pick who received one point.
Our Intermediate judges picked their top 30, first receiving 30 points all the way down and our Senior judges picked their top 50, with their first pick receiving 50 points etc.
Achill: Colm Cafferkey, player
Aghamore: David Kenny, player
Ardagh: Seán Carey, player/manager
Ardnaree: Jarlath Jennings, former manager
Balla, Ger Butler, manager
Ballaghaderreen: Stephen Drake, player
Ballina: Paul McGarry, former player
Ballinrobe: Colm Jennings, former player
Ballintubber: Alan Dillon, player
Ballycastle: John Carey, player
Ballycroy: Stephen Grealis, player
Ballyhaunis, Brian Mulrennan, former player
Belmullet: Liam Lavelle, former player
Bonniconlon, Donie Tuohy, manager
Breaffy: Peter Ford, manager
Burrishoole, Colm McManamon, former player
Castlebar: Martin Carney, former player
Castlebar B: Eamonn Tiernan, player
Cill Chómain Gaels: Fintan Ruddy, player
Charlestown: John Casey, former player
Claremorris: Austin Garvin, former manager
Crossmolina, Cathal Carolan, player
Davitts: Mickey Conroy, player
Eastern Gaels: Pat Finnegan, manager
Garrymore: Danny McHugh, former player
Hollymount/Carramore: John Stagg, former player
Islandeady: Martin Feeney, player
Kilfian: Brian Roche, player
Killala: Declan O’Dea, former manager
Kilmaine: David Loughlin, manager
Kilmeena: John Reilly, manager
Kilmovee: Shamrocks, Donál Kelly, club secretary
Kiltane: Ciaran O’Hara, manager
Kiltimagh: Conor Heneghan, player
Knockmore: Nigel Reape, former player
Lacken Sarsfields: Paddy Connor, club chairman
Lahardane: Adrian Leonard, player
Louisburgh: Austin O’Malley, player
Mayo Gaels: Adam Gallagher, player
Moy Davitts: Anthony Jordan, player
Moygownagh: John D McDonnell, club secretary
Parke: Simon Cloherty, player
Shrule/Glencorrib: Johnny Griffin, manager
Swinford: Aiden McLoughlin, player
Tourmakeady: Brendan Prendergast, manager
The Neale: Eoin Hughes, manager
Westport: Charlie Lambert, former player
*The judges were drawn from the 47 Gaelic football clubs in Mayo.
Our Top 100 Senior/Intermediate & Junior Club Footballers in 2020
Top 50 Senior
1: Cillian O’Connor, Ballintubber 748 pts
2: Paddy Durcan, Castlebar 732
3: Andy Moran, Ballaghaderreen 722
4: Diarmuid O’Connor, Ballintubber 712
5: Aidan O’Shea, Breaffy 684
6: Neil Douglas, Castlebar 667
7: Jason Gibbons, Ballintubber 602
8: Padraig O’Hora, Ballina 526
9: Kevin McLoughlin, Knockmore 517
10: Fergal Boland, Aghamore 499
11: Colm Boyle, Davitts 478
12: Michael Plunkett, Ballintubber 459
13: David Clarke, Ballina 423
14: Matthew Ruane, Breaffy 409
15: Ryan O’Donoghue, Belmullet 402
16: Brendan Harrison, Aghamore 390
17: Tommy Conroy, The Neale 389
18: David Drake, Ballaghaderreen 367
19: Lee Keegan, Westport 349
20: Shairoze Akram, Ballaghaderren 324 *
21: Rory Byrne, Castlebar 324 *
22: Chris Barrett, Belmullet 312
23: Brian Reape, Moy Davitts 291
24: James McCormack, Claremorris 290
25: Shane Nally, Garrymore 284
26: Eoin O’Donoghue, Belmullet 279
27: James Shaughnessy, Claremorris 274
28: James Durcan, Castlebar 270
29: Ryan Lynch, Ballaghaderreen 267
30: Ciarán Treacy, Ballina 264
31: Alan Dillon, Ballintubber 234
32: Paul Towey, Charlestown 226
33: Caolan Crowe, Garrymore 224 *
34: Donie Newcombe, Castlebar 224 *
35: Brian Murphy, Ballintubber 213
36: Evan Regan, Ballina 211 * tie
36: Darren McHale, Knockmore 211 * tie
38: Gareth O’Donnell, Charlestown 209
39: Fionn McDonagh, Westport 200
40: Mikie Sweeney, Kiltane 194
41: Mikey Murray, Ballina 189 *
42: Alan Plunkett, Ballintubber 189 *
43: Gary Loftus, Ballintubber 188
44: Conor O’Shea, Breaffy 180
45: Damien Coleman, Ballintubber 177
46: Seamie O’Shea, Breaffy 171
47: Cian Hanley, Ballaghaderreen 168
48: Tom Parsons, Charlestown 167
49: Rob Hennelly, Breaffy 162
50: Ger Cafferkey, Ballina 159
* Maximum points were 800. Where players were locked on the same points, they were split on the basis of a judges’ countback – the player who received votes from the most amount of judges got the nod.
Top 30 Intermediate
1: Keith Higgins, Ballyhaunis 466pts
2: Jason Doherty, Burrishoole 456
3: Darren Coen, Hollymount/Carramore 439
4: Stephen Coen, Hollymount/Carramore 392
5: Jordan Flynn, Crossmolina 357
6: Conor Loftus, Crossmolina 272
7: Adam Gallagher, Mayo Gaels 238
8: Kevin Gibbons, Louisburgh 228
9: Evan O’Brien, Ballinrobe 224
10: Eoghan Collins, Ballyhaunis 207
11: Eoghan Lavin, Kiltimagh 204
12: Fionan Duffy, Crossmolina 200
13: Jack Coyne, Ballyhaunis 190
14: Cian Burke, Ardnaree 176
15: Padraig Prendergast, Louisburgh 160
16: Barry Moran, Castlebar B 152
17: Conor Naylor, Ardnaree 139
18: Conor Walsh, Balla 138
19: Eoin McCormack, Ardnaree 134
20: Simon Cloherty, Parke 126
21: Padraig O’Malley, Louisburgh 121
22: Sean Walsh, Kiltimagh 120
23: Matty Flanagan, Balla 114
24: Conor Igoe, Bonniconlon 109
25: Barry Duffy, Balla 106
26: Eamon Phillips, Ballyhaunis 102
27: Kevin Quinn, Ballinrobe 84
28: Padraig Feerick, Hollymount/Carramore 77
29: Adrian Leonard, Lahardane 73
30: Cathal Carolan, Crossmolina 72
*Maximum points were 480. Where players were locked on the same points, they were split on the basis of a judges’ countback – the player who received votes from the most amount of judges got the nod.
Top 20 Junior
1: Oisin Mullin, Kilmaine 294pts
2: James Carr, Ardagh 288
3: Justin Healy, Cill Chomáin 194
4: Micheal Forde, Ballycastle 185
5: Eddie Doran, Achill 170
6: Darragh Keaveney, Kilmeena 153
7: Cathal Horan, Kilmovee 141
8: Brendan Carr, Ardagh 140
9: Ja Mullin, Kilmaine 136
10: Jack Carney, Kilmeena 120
11: Tomas Fahey, Kilmaine 117
12: Stephen Rochford, Ardagh 78 *
13: Kevin Dolan, Tourmakeady 78 *
14: Micheal Hession, Kilmaine 63
15: Eoin McGrath, Cill Chomáin 55
16: Michael McGarry, Eastern Gaels 51
17: Adam Barrett, Kilmaine 49
18: Matthew Keady, Kilmaine 40
19: Conor Gilvarry, Killala 38 *
20: James Gallagher, Achill 38 *
* Maximum points were 300. Where players were locked on the same points, they were split on the basis of a judges’ countback – the player who received votes from the most amount of judges got the nod.