Poll: who was our Player of the Year for 2021?

With the inter-county season now behind us it’s time to consider who was the Mayo GAA Blog Player of the Year for 2021.

Past winners of this award – chosen by you – are Cillian O’Connor (twice), Diarmuid O’Connor, Lee Keegan, Andy Moran and Colm Boyle.

To compile the shortlist for the Player of the Year award I use the same method every year, which is to aggregate up the votes from the individual Man of the Match polls. This year data from the four League matches we played and the five Championship fixtures we contested were used. As was the case in past years, weights were applied to the raw data to reflect the greater importance of big Championship clashes.

The shortlist tends to vary in length from year to year – moving between three and five – and this year the close grouping of four players at the top of list makes that the logical number to use this year. So, then, four it is.

In alphabetical order, the four nominees for the 2021 Mayo GAA Blog Player of the Year award are Lee Keegan, Ryan O’Donoghue, Padraig O’Hora and Mattie Ruane.

The poll is now open and you can cast your vote below. I’ll leave the poll up for a week or so and announce the winner after that. Congrats to all four players shortlisted and the best of luck to them in the vote.

Who was our 2021 Player of the Year?

  • Lee Keegan (56%, 1,546 Votes)
  • Ryan O'Donoghue (19%, 518 Votes)
  • Mattie Ruane (13%, 361 Votes)
  • Padraig O'Hora (12%, 328 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,753

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58 thoughts on “Poll: who was our Player of the Year for 2021?

  1. I voted for Lee Keegan on the basis of his powerful performances in both Semifinal and Final, the games that matter the most, easily the best Mayo player of all time… Mattie, Ryan and Pádraig all had very good season’s, Padraig getting nominated and deservedly so on less than 3 full championship games, says something about his delivering performance at the highest level.. My own particular way of looking at things, I taught that Stephen Coen put in two outstanding performances in both the Semifinal and Final as well.. Paddy Durcan and Robbie Hennelly has good years overall, and of course Tommy Conroy.

  2. Lee Keegan no one else comes close. He does it on the big days and the small days always performs and rises to the big occasion. I’ve been following Mayo since 1984 and he’s the best Mayo footballer I’ve ever seen. He always has a great attitude win or lose. He may not have an all ireland medal but he’s a born winner and leader

  3. Stephen Coen by far our most consistent player all year. When things were going bad against Galway and Dublin he was one of the few players who were standing up trying to make things happen.
    Marked Mattie Donnelly in the final and Mattie was taken off. He was the obvious player to have marking MacShane when he came on – cant understand how he wasnt given that job. Deserves an all star but probably wont get one as he is not high profile enough – a bit like Kevin Mac Loughlin over the last 10 years.

  4. I voted for Mattie as I think that’s the only choice if it’s actually over the full season.
    Lee probably for championship and especially the clutch games of semi and final.
    Ryan deserves some sort if award for stepping up and covering for Cillian so we’ll that we didn’t even miss him til the final

  5. South Mayo inclined to agree with you re Stephen Coen, I think Stephen would make a great partnership with Mathew Ruane in midfield.. Was that not the winning combination in the 2016 All Ireland U21 final in Ennis.. Mathew won MotM award that day, could easily have been Stephen as well!

  6. Jeez there’s a serious Stephen Coen love-in lately! He has improved this season but he’s far from our most important player. For me, that was Ryan this year. Don’t know the exact numbers from frees but I’d say Cillian would have struggled to better them. And I actually think Cillian wouldn’t have scored more from play. Work rate is just as good. Only a penalty away from an All Star, top scorer, and possibly the All Ireland. Fine margins and all that.

  7. Leeroy by a mile. When the need was greatest he delivered ….again. Good years for some other lads as well. Coen and Durcan solid all year. Ruane very good but a nightmare final. Tommy C a threat always and Ryan o Donaghue courageous and hardworking all year

  8. Can’t argue against Lee. Apart from a poor first half vs Galway he was good all year and our best player in the 2 biggest games.

    Mattie very good up to the Tyrone game.

    Rob Hennelly very good all year but will have regrets about the 1st Tyrone goal.

    Ryan and Tommy filled the void left behind by Cillian better than I thought possible.

  9. I’m going for leeroy. A man amongst men. A warrior. A leader on the biggest stage of all. A special mention too for Ryan o Donohoe.. he was exceptional from frees and from play.

  10. I voted for Lee – I don’t really have words to say more about this man.
    I also wish to acknowledge how good Ryan was all year in League and Championship. He developed from last year, always looks lively, works hard and is willing to take responsibility. That’s a great combination to see in a young player.

  11. Stephen Coen might not be our most important player, but he’s certainly the most underrated.
    Caught between Lee and Ryan, Lee stepped up when we thought he was biggest performances were behind him and Ryan was a livewire all year who negated the loss of Cillian to a large extent. Cillian would probably have nailed the free that led to the penalty. Ryan who was down after winning the free should probably not have been taking it after taking a hard hit, but he did and the rest is history.
    Our 2 best performers on the day but over the season I think it’s Ryan for me.

  12. Time has come that Stephen Coen is our Mayo Captain .A born leader on and of the field .A proven winner..We need a lucky General…

  13. Feel like on occasion we have a lot of recency bias on these things.
    Can’t give it to Lee myself as I felt he had a torrid day in the first half vs Galway and a I wrong in saying missed a championship match early on as well?

    I would give it to Ruane or ROD based on consistency. Didn’t go Ruane’s way in the final but was brilliant in games beforehand.

  14. I’d agree with comments on S. Coen, on the three big days we had this year Coen and I think he has come of age. In the first half of the Connacht Final himself and Aidan were the only two men showing for ball. Coen could very well be the man to partner up with Mattie, he can give more license for Mattie to attack. I’d also argue the case for him to be made Captain, his track record in that role is phenomenal.

  15. Its hard to overall measure these things – and Keegan certainly delivered the most out of everyone on the big days – but given this season he got suddenly landed with the role of our primary scoring forward in only the infancy of his intercounty career, and for the most part fully delivered, I personally think O’Donoghue would be a worthy winner also

  16. I voted for Lee Keegan because I think he always shows up and performs in the big games when needed. I also just read Billy Joes review piece there in the Mayo News. Something which you go along with WJ.

    I have to say that I find the defense of James Horan in that piece very generous. E.g. the comment is made “And at the same time, we can’t throw this team away.” This comment infers that if James Horan were no longer in charge that this team would somehow fall apart. But hang on – He was not in charge in 2016/17 when we were reached and played in the AI finals !

    Also this assumption “The team does need to evolve in certain ways and get better, and he will recognise that.” is something I have a fair bit of trouble getting my head around. James Horans has been in charge for 2 stints now but the evolvement of those teams or their playing styles is not really something I have significantly noticed or seen in either of his management periods over the past 10 years.

    The main argument I have for keeping him as manager is that I believe there are v few capable of taking on the job and understanding and managing all the parts that are required and that need to be in place for the development of a successful inter county team. I.e. managing all of the following while only naming but a few – strength and conditioning teams, diet teams, work and other training timetables managers, personnell mentors, medical staff etc.

    Overall Im sure James knows how big this job is and I don’t know of many others within the county that have that nous, understanding and ability to manage this. But at the same time I am having serious doubts about his ability on big days to deliver for the team especially when they are struggling.

  17. Has to be Lee Keegan. He’s a big game player and was the stand out player in the semifinal and final…so number 1 man for sure.
    Brilliant article by Anthony Hennigan in the Western People this week on the pros and cons of Mayo’s failure to get over the line on the big day…well work a read.

  18. Lee Keegan has been brilliant in both the semi and final. He was ropy in the first half of the Connacht final but absolutely took off after that. Thats why I voted for him. If Ryan O’Donoghue had played to the same level in the final as he did for the previous games I would have voted for him. I must admit that I still haven’t shook off the disappointment of losing that final – it still haunts me – and the thoughts of losing someone like Leeroy in the coming seasons compounds it even more.

  19. Ryan O Donaghue for me as his role & responsibility was so demanding of accuracy, confidence, temperament & bottle.

  20. @JPM, No team manager needs to micro manage the areas you mentioned.

    A good inter County manager will surround himself with the best possible team he can.

    If I hire a strength and conditioning coach then I expect him or her to be able to do their job because that’s their field, it’s not mine. If I’m not satisfied with their work, I fire them but I do not tell them how to do their job.

    Same with the dietitian and so on, if you have to micro manage them then they are not suitable for their roles, simple as that.

    First build a good management team and scouting network and the rest will fall into place but you must be willing to listen and trust the team you have built around you otherwise you are failing in your own role and trying to micro manage.

  21. Lee Keegan, no contest. He would walk into any team in the country. Relishes the big day and the challenges he is given.

    Agree with the posters above about Coen being underrated this year.

    When you look at the list above and throw in the likes of Coen, Conroy, Mullin and Durcan, we aren’t in a too bad a position. Factor in the returns of Cillian and Eoghan McLaughlin and despite another loss there is an awful lot of positives to take and an awful lot of quality players in the county to work with.

  22. Lee Leegan all day for me for his leadership, temperment and sheer determination on the biggest days of all in Croke Park.

    I would also agree with the calls for Stephen Coen as captain next year. An accomplished leader at both minor and U21 who has never led his side down in the big games.

  23. Player of the year would go to Ryan or Matthew.
    Bar Final Mattie was getting man of the match in a lot of games …
    Actually hard to call as Lee was brilliant especially in the final .
    All the lads played brilliant in the Semi !!

  24. Lee Keegan deserves Great credit for his performances in semi and final. But I think Ryan o Donaghue considering what happened to Cillian O’Connor and the responsibility that he had to step up too was outstanding. unfortunately lots of people will remember him for the penalty miss which is a bit unfair considering he’s inexperience at county level. People have mentioned Stephen coen who seems to have leadership qualities and I think would make a good captain. Two questions that I would love some insight into are management decisions on the sideline especially in the big games and also wondering what has happened to Diarmuid O’Connor the player who I would have considered to be a nailed on star in the making two or three years ago. Is there too much being asked of him is he been played out of position.

  25. Agree that Stephen Coen is the most underrated member of the panel – he’s matured into a valuable leader and key driver of the team. By the same token Padraig O’Hora is a bit overrated; absolutely nothing personal against him but he’s a very inexperienced defender that was found out in the final – sound bites don’t clear high calls into the D unfortunately!. Ryan had a good year and will have grown from the experience – likewise Tommy Conroy when he learns to mix up the play. Maigh Eo Abu!

  26. Jack Martin I reluctantly agree with you about Padraig O’Hora I have great time for him as a person and a footballer he is a brillant guy. It takes him a while to get into the game and he is a bit inexperienced and probably got caught up in the final hype but I back him to learn from it and good back a better footballer he has huge potential and a great attitude and winning mentality. Very disappointed with Diarmuid O’Connor I think going forward he should be left at 11 and told just kick the ball over the ball I think being a workhorse all over the field has taken a toll on him

  27. Thx Glorydays – nice to see a reasoned balanced comment. Not sure Diarmuid deserves to start, based on current form – he doesn’t have an eye of scores like his older brother & we need scoring forwards, I think you may agree.

  28. Lee put in the best individual performances of the year in both semi and the final but for me player of the year has to be Ryan. Has been consistently very good all year and took on the responsibility following Cillian injury like he has been there for years.

  29. Coen could make an excellent Mayo captain next year, as he has an amazing record in previous captaincies – he’s led both Mayo Minors and Mayo U-21s to All-Ireland successes in 2013 and 2016 & then captained the UCD team to win the 2017/18 Sigerson Cup. Shortlist should have included his name -ach beidh la eile ann (againn) le cunamh De!

  30. I agree Coen is captain material for this team but I would hope it will be offered to Keegan for the next couple of years. Let someone else do the motivational speaking if he’s not comfortable with that but for leading by example on the field there’s none better. As he approaches the twilight it might just be what would keep his interest for an extra year or two. It cannot be easy for the likes of Lee to keep leaving it all on the field but still coming up just short.
    Of course it may have been offered to Lee in the past but it doesn’t interest everyone.

  31. I think we will be very lucky to have Lee Keegan for this coming year, never mind two years with a second baby on the way. That’s really the reason Andy retired when he did. On top of family reasons, this recent loss could make any player in their 30’s give up the dream. Sorry to be so pessimistic but I’m worried if Keegan/O’Shea were to go, so too could our dream of winning it all any time soon.

  32. Agree totally with you JPM in respect of Billy Joe’s analysis.

    He says this Mayo team is not yet a finished article(who’s to say if Cillian returns that another wont have by then picked up a serious injury or that Cillian will be back to his best – look at Jason Doherty). Tyrone relied on Conor Myler to deliver in the final and he did with aplomb. He has no more experience than our newcomers. And its incorrect to say that our key players were very inexperienced, young maybe, but not inexperienced. They have played in back to back all-irleands and most have played in the U21 final in 2018. We were relying on the likes of McLoughlin, O’Connor, D Coen, Hennelly, O’Shea, Loftus and Ruane and they didnt deliver. Mullin, Walsh, Conroy and O’Donoghue were to feed off these more experienced players. I feel too many of these analysts(and pod guests) are too afraid to say it as it is in case of offending. Andy Moran saying after the final that Tyrone were ahead in their development was just laughable! We alway have an EXCUSE.

    Management have serious question to answer as to how the team was picked and set up. They basically set the entire attacking plan on Aidan, a player that has not scored in any final and didnt have a good semi, and yet its all going to magically happen on the biggest game of the year. Brang in Carr (who we now know was a serious injury concern pre match) when the game was over. Why was he on the match day squad if sick? If Orme was shooting the light out in training why not start him (aka Shane O’Donnell for Clare hurlers – spring a suprise and see does it work), instead he brings him on expecting him to save the day, a young lad with no championship experience at all!. Horan has in my opinion failed miserably in all 4 finals with his gameday management. I’ve huge admiration for what he has brought to his Mayo teams, he’s good at the organisation and standards (believe he works in quality), but he is desperately poor thinking on his feet and by all accounts wont take advise. His position deserves review or we will never succeed. The Mayo Managers position is well financed (as is most club manager positions) – please dont insult me with this amateur arguement – and if results are not delivered then give the job to a person who will deliver. I’m very dissapointed also that he allowed his captain do a ‘baywatch’ ad on social media that also made the newspapers days before the final(are some players ever going to learn – this a senior player and captain). He said he was going to take the BS out of Mayo football, this was just another chance to give someone a stick to beat us with and that stick has been well used since the final.

    Billy Joe also mentions the noise around Mayo and the Mayo team. In my opinion there isnt enough NOISE. As a season ticket holder I believe the County Board should issue an apology to me and my likes and stop this wallowing in self pity with their statement about abuse to players and management. We were treated appallingly. Who has our back!, they basically touted our tickets, feed the prawn sandwich bridage and made a profit.
    Over 40 years I have supported Mayo GAA and I have never been more angry and disillusioned since the final. Intead of directing their anger at what some fans may or may not be saying about Horan and the player they would be better off asking the hard questions and looking at getting their own house in order.

    The Mayo Team is OUR team not any given manager or players team, give it back its honour and pride and stop the annual predictable after final circus

  33. Teamsheet. well said. where are the rest that should be speaking out about this
    it will go on for another 20 years and nothing will be done, the silence is deafening
    already, no happy days here…

  34. @Sinead37, Well we had them both against Donegal in 2012, Dublin in 2013 and again the last day against Tyrone but to our shame we managed to find a formula to lose.

    Winning an All-Ireland should only be a dream if you are from a Longford or a Carlow, it should not be a dream to a county who have been given as many opportunities as Mayo.

    We need to stop this bigging it up as if it’s the world cup, there will only ever be a handful of realistic contenders.

    Look at Tyrone, no messing, dreaming, or over thinking, just in with a plan, played to it and bang, that’s the way to do it.

    It’s a simple game really.

  35. @team sheet.
    I have been here enough years to know the rules of play the ball and not the man,but you must be a small bit embarrassed posting this?
    “As a season ticket holder I believe the County Board should issue an apology to me”

  36. @Teamsheet, alot of what you write is true to a point.
    The analysts, especially ex Mayo players always seem to have some type of excuse when Mayo lose a final.
    Maybe management is far too close to the players and knows them too well over many years.
    The signs were there v Galway and Dublin, no 1st half performances, I was worried about this at the time.
    What happened to all the experience and composure on final day ?
    I saw the scores from the Breaffy v Westport game, one of the players scored a few decent points and one at the death, why can’t he do this in a Mayo Jersey?

  37. @Teamsheet, No team will ever be the “Finished Article” because they are always striving to improve, Kerry were favorites to win the All-Ireland but they are not the finished article, neither are Tyrone and even when Dublin were at their best Jim Gavin would never ever have said they were the finished article.

    Italy won the Euros, are they the finished article, not likely and in fact they lost one of their key men before the final, but they used their squad, that’s what it’s for.

    I don’t know what Andy said after the final but he seemed pretty confident before the final when he said:

    “Mayo are in an All-Ireland final with a huge chance to win it”

    “Horan has been through so many finals now, I think it gives Mayo a significant advantage over Tyrone and Brian Dooher and Feargal Logan. It may even prove to be the difference.”

    I think we all thought the same as Andy did before the game and rightfully so and that probably explains why there is still so much anger.

  38. Viper, you are on a roll.
    I’m just wondering, what happens now with Mayo management.
    Is it a case that there may be no alternative going forward for the job if current guys step down ?
    Is it a case that the focus in Mayo is producing new players yearly but with no real chance of winning an All Ireland?

  39. @Mayo88, I think the fact that Dooher and Logan have sailed their ship through the choppy waters of Ulster, got through the Covid crisis, knocked out Kerry and beat Mayo on their maiden voyage is going to open the eyes of many County Boards when it comes to hiring new managers.

    So even though Mickey Harte was a highly experienced manager and had won three All-Irelands it counted for nothing when the county executive declined his one year extension request.

    And given the respect that there is for Mickey Harte in Tyrone, it’s fair to assume that one of the key reasons Harte was not given an extension was that the executive felt that the Harte system of playing the game had run it’s course and was not going to win them an All-Ireland.

    Mickey Harte was Tyrone, did life go on without him, I think we can say it certainly did because I don’t believe they would have won an All-Ireland if Harte was still there, same players but a tweak to the system and a good backroom who worked together as a team.

    So even if James Horan decided to walk away, life will go on without him as it did before when he left.

    Nobody is irreplaceable, just ask Mickey Harte.

  40. @FW The statement released pointed the finger at Mayo fans for abuse given to Management and players. Give me a break!. IMO the analysis was proper. Fans are allowed be critical once it’s accurate and fair. In a lot of cases the commentary was even sympathetic which is a bit embarrassing, I for one don’t want sympathy. Why didn’t the County Board name Joe Brolly and the idiots on social media that were their usual classless selves in their statemnet. Also if players choose to be in social media then they have to take good with bad. Unfortunately it modern living. Also IMO us genuine fans were brutally treated in respect of tickets distribution by county board. For anyone who did get a ticket that had to sit and watch our Management fight amongst themselves in full technicolor. We Mayo fans deserve better and the people we have entrusted to deliver this standard for us are letting us down. Instead of Management and County Board holding up their hands after the disaster of final we instead get a self serving pathetic statement. Is anything really going to change. Is Mayo GAA future a continuation of mass fallout after final flops and calls for bekind to Management & players. We’re better than that.

  41. Teamsheet – any fair-minded reading of the statement issued by Mayo GAA doesn’t support your allegation that it “pointed the finger at Mayo fans” in relation to personal abuse. Please substantiate that allegation or else withdraw it.

  42. The statement slammed personal attacks and abuse. I am not for once approving such behaviour towards anyone least of all against management or players. But most commentary in fairness on game was from Mayo fans. It’s a very broad statement why not call out the abusers? We have to differenciate between what is fair critism and whats unfair abuse in this very woke society that we live in.

  43. I don’t disagree with any of that but you still haven’t substantiated the allegation you’ve made. Just because most of the commentary on the game came from Mayo fans doesn’t mean the personal abuse came from them too. So, I have to ask again – can you substantiate the allegation you’ve made? If not, please withdraw it.

  44. @Viper that’s exactly my point. You play the cards your dealt with on game day not wait for a finished article.

    My main point again was the County Board would be better served, instead of issuing self serving statements, seeking the following end of year review:

    Management – question why players were allowed use social media pre game. As Ronaldson said in Western People Aidan gave people a rod. Management has the biggest question to answer in this regard IMO. Question how inhouse arguments were deemed acceptable by management on game day. What kind of image does that send about brand Mayo?, acting like cowboys like the hats some wore! Get a full football review and assessment for year.

    Any employee (and that is effectively what Management are) has to answer for performance to their employer.

    We all deserve these standards.

  45. Willie Joe. I haven’t posted here for the past two weeks mainly because of the tremendous disappointment of how the game went but also because , prior to the game this blog seemed preoccupied with posters criticising the distribution of tickets and being harsh on people like me , living outside the county, not being a season ticket holder, and still going to get a ticket for the final. I make no apologies in saying that I have attended all the finals and replays since 1989 (except last year when I still was in Dublins north side on 19th December,just in case). We can be proud of our teams that have appeared in finals . They and management do not deserve any criticism from us…their supporters. I would see a lot of similarities with the European Ryder cup team. Some previously good players are now past their prime. Most of all, simply not as talented as the opposition. We’ll keep faith. I hope to be in attendance at next years final so ,please posters,no begrudgery. Up Mayo

  46. I think we may have jumped the shark here when people are demanding personal apologies from the County board because Mayo lost.
    You couldn’t make that up.

  47. FW, I think you are missing the point made by Teamsheet which has also been well articulated by Mick Foley in the Mayo News podcast.

    The release & tone of the end year position statement by Mayo GAA, is for myself & a lot of genuine supporters unbelievably condescending & only contributes to a ‘them’ and ‘us’ situation

    It is also ridiculously corporate & does nothing to connect the raw emotions felt by the fans & their love & passion of the Mayo team

    Mayo GAA should remember that the genuine & loyal supporters also contribute hugely to the success of the Mayo teams past and present and deserve to be treated with a little humility & respect.

    Mayo fans will lick their wounds (we’re well trained) build up our armour for 2022 & support our team like we’ve always done. Don’t take us for granted.

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