It was widely expected to happen but earlier on today it was confirmed that Cillian O’Connor has made the shortlist for this year’s GAA GPA All-Star Young Footballer of the Year award. The young Ballintubber man is up against Dublin’s James McCarthy and Donegal’s wee Mark McHugh for the gong with the winner due to be announced at the All-Stars bash on Friday week.
While reaching the final three is a superb achievement in its own right – it’s the first time a representative from the county has done so since Aidan O’Shea made the cut back in 2009 – Cillian has to be in with a great shout to win the award outright.
I reckon that it’s between him and James McCarthy and while the young Ballymun Kickhams man has had a wonderful year, in which he bolted down a starting fifteen place on Dublin’s All-Ireland winning team, Cillian’s breakthrough into senior just a year on from being eligible to play minor and the significant role he played in our championship run might be sufficient to swing it for him.
Also, with Alan Brogan looking like a nailed-on certainty for the senior award (where Stephen Cluxton and Darran O’Sullivan have also been nominated) there’s got to be less of a chance that they’d give the two Footballer of the Year awards to the two Dublin lads. Paddy Power appears to agree with this assessment: Cillian is the strong odds-on favourite at 2/5 to scoop the prize.