Right, you the voters have spoken. The poll is now closed on our Player of the Year 2020 vote and, with a resounding 73% of all votes cast, Cillian O’Connor is the winner.
It’s the second time that Cillian has won the Player of the Year award here on the blog, having also been voted our POTY the first time a vote was held for it, back in 2014. Then, as now, he was the obvious winner of the award.
Cillian was in flying form last year and I think it’s fair to conclude that, if he had been fit earlier in the year, relegation from Division One wouldn’t have been a concern to us. Indeed, had he lined for us in the Round 7 game against Tyrone in October I doubt very much we’d have suffered the drop. But that’s water under the bridge now.
I’ve always had a fairly obvious observation to make about Cillian’s contribution to the cause and that’s that we’re simply a different team when he’s on the pitch. He’s that important to us and his presence enables the whole team to function at a higher level.
It’s not just his phenomenal scoring record – though, for those who haven’t seen it, Fergal De Burca’s analysis piece on this issue here on the blog prior to the All-Ireland is definitely worth a read – that makes the Ballintubber man so key to everything we do. His attitude and workrate set him apart as well and these qualities have meant that he’s been one of the team’s leaders every since he first pulled on the jersey.
Once he returned to the fray back in October, it was immediately noticeable how sharp and fit Cillian looked and we saw the benefits of a fully fit Cillian from then right up to the pre-Christmas All-Ireland. His sharpness last year also demonstrated how much he’d contributed in previous years, despite the various injuries he’s been carrying, as well as underlining still further how much we’ve missed him when he’s been out injured.
Last week, Cillian was included in the list of nominees for the 2020 All-Stars. He’ll definitely be on the team when the awards are announced next month but how the all-time top scorer in the Championship can at this stage of his career only have one All-Star award to his credit is simply beyond credulity.
He was also included on the Footballer of the Year shortlist but that’s not a gong he’ll win. Colin Sheridan makes a rather compelling case, though, in today’s Irish Examiner why he should bag this one too – that’s here.
A decade ago last weekend, three developments of note took place from a Mayo GAA perspective arising from a pre-season FBD game we were involved in.
The first was that it was the first ever inter-county match played under lights at MacHale Park. The second was that it was James Horan’s first game as Mayo manager, the starting point for what proved to be one hell of a journey in the years that followed.
The third was that one of the players James handed his inter-county debut to that night was his Ballintubber clubmate Cillian O’Connor, a player who had lined out at Minor level the previous summer. Cillian scored 1-6 that January night in what was an FBD League encounter with GMIT and in the ten years since then he hasn’t stopped scoring for us, as well as doing so much more besides.
The fact that Cillian’s first appearance for us occurred a full decade ago comes as a jolt as well as a reminder that time stands still for nobody. We’ll miss him more than perhaps even we realise when he’s gone and, in the meantime, we’ll treasure the continued and consistent excellence he brings to the side.
Congrats on your second Mayo GAA Blog Player of the Year award, Cillian, and long may we continue to have cause to laud your accomplishments for the county.