GAA Football

‘The Caksys' - The sporting (mostly GAA) awards from 2017 that you won't find anywhere else

Tyrone's quarter-final defeat wins the award for best atmosphere - and the one for worst atmosphere. Picture by Hugh Russell.

Best atmosphere: The pre-match and first three minutes of Dublin v Tyrone.

Worst atmosphere: The remaining 67 minutes of Dublin v Tyrone.

Celebration: That 21st birthday party in Ballyraggett.

Jump-out-of-the-chair-and-waken-the-weans moment: James McClean’s goal out of nothing in Cardiff which went a long way towards helping Ireland embarrass themselves against Denmark.

Renaissance man: The magnificent Andy Moran. Finally had his talents recognised.

Ovation: Hill 16 rising to acclaim the long-awaited reintroduction of possibly their greatest number 12 of all time, Eric Lowndes.

Individual footballing display: David Clifford hitting 4-4 and setting up the rest in Kerry’s All-Ireland minor final win over Derry. Just ahead of Andy Moran in the drawn semi-final.

Rush of blood: Donal Vaughan ploughing into John Small and potentially costing Mayo an All-Ireland.

Most unwatchable game: Donegal v Longford. So unwatchable it was that I spent half the time watching Mayo and Derry on the laptop, occasionally nudging Chris McNulty to see who’d dropped the latest shot into the ‘keeper’s hands.

Speech: David Burke on lifting Liam MacCarthy. No half measures. An emotional tribute to Niall Donohue topped it off.

Gesture: Jim Gavin bringing young Anton Campbell from Magherafelt into the Dublin changing room to celebrate with Sam Maguire. That’s presumably why he was late for the surly press men.

Cherry on top: Colm Cooper had won just about everything there was to win in Gaelic football except the All-Ireland club title, and he finally got his hands on it with a two-point win over Slaughtneil in March.

Club: They’ve won everything in every code for the last two years. Have a guess.

Premature ending: Kerry looked to be flying in March and finally cracked the Dublin code in the National League final. But they waded more than waltzed through Munster and they were easily second best to Mayo in a disappointing semi-final replay.

Tactical surprise: Pushing Kieran Donaghy to full-forward to pick up Aidan O’Shea.

Softest border: The one between Derry and Tyrone. Used to be harsh and rugged. Now it’s an annual 11-point walkover for them’uns.

Charitable act: The Gaelic Voices for Change sleepout, in which more than 400 GAA players helped raise over €200,000 for homeless charities.

Useful affliction: Asthma.

The public got it wrong, surely: Maybe it’s just because I’m not a golf fan but Padraig Harrington’s 2007 British Open win would not have been very high on my list of great Irish sporting moments. Surely the Romanian penalty shootout or Houghton’s lob were of much greater significance?

Game-destroying-pitch of the year: Tuam for Corofin’s win over Castlebar in the Connacht club final. It was like they were playing on a cow field.

Revolters: Fermanagh footballers making 2018 a tough one for themselves by turning on Pete McGrath.

Guttural roar: The Galway fans in line with Joe Canning’s winner against Tipperary pulling it towards the Hill 16 end. A noise like no other.

Football score: Daniel Flynn’s sideline effort for Kildare against Dublin, having bobbed the whole way from his own half.

Stood up to be counted: Paddy McBrearty had, until this season, been potentially one of the best forwards in Ireland. This year he took the step forward and became one. His winner against Meath was superb.

Who picked those jerseys: Ireland’s new navy outfit against South Africa’s dark green in the November Series made for a lot of squinting.

Close run thing: The Allstar goalkeeper battle. I would have gone for Cluxton personally but I can see why they went for Clarke. We’re just blessed to have the two of them playing at once.

Slap: Paddy Nugent clipping his brother Domhnall after the latter had driven the ball off the tee at the end of the Antrim football final between Lámh Dhearg and St John’s. “Blood’s thicker than water,” Domhnall tweeted a couple of days later.

Individual hurling display: Jamie Barron against Kilkenny, perhaps out of sympathy for not winning Hurler of the Year.

Underdog: Carlow would have been in the running had it not been for the miraculous Sigerson Cup success of St Mary’s back at the start of the year, beating off the heavyweights to clinch a first success since 1989.

Underdog of the year had an outright winner in St Mary's Sigerson winning team.

Anthem: Land Of My Fathers by the unaccompanied Welsh crowd at Cardiff City Stadium ahead of the crucial World Cup qualifier with the Republic. It was spine-tingling on TV, I can only imagine what it sounded like in the place.

Changing room celebration: Dunloy captain James McKeague bringing the Antrim hurling championship back through the doors for the first time in eight years sparked pandemonium.

Empty chassis: Ireland’s 2023 Rugby World Cup bid. The bookies had them as favourites and while the technical report didn’t do it any favours, the flaws were fairly obvious once someone pointed them out to us.

County ground: Armagh Athletic Grounds, home of the Tyrone SFC.

Awards mistake: Not giving Jamie Barron Hurler of the Year, nor even nominating Gearoid McInerney.

Ingenuity: Even though it was ultimately unsuccessful, Lee Keegan chucking his GPS monitor at Dean Rock’s feet in a desperate attempt to put him off was a great piece of thinking.

Stupid rule: Moorefield captain Daryl Flynn being handed a one-match ban for lifting the Kildare SFC trophy after having been sent off during the game for two yellow cards. What is this, 1967?

Sideline celebration: Jim Gavin’s cartwheel at the final whistle in September. Oh you missed that? Ah well.

Tactical lesson that wasn’t heeded: Kildare showed that Dublin were there to be got at by hitting 1-17 and causing plenty of strife in the Leinster final. The Dubs’ next two opponents, Monaghan and Tyrone, went the Ulster way and were walloped.

Photograph: Michéal Donoghue and his wheelchair-bound father embrace as the son brings Liam MacCarthy home. What it’s all about.

Long goodbye: “Are you prepared for what’s coming when you retire?” Sean Cavanagh is asked for the 302nd time this year.

Dodgy assessment: ‘Lions led by donkeys’.

Tackle: Kerry a point up deep into injury-time in the semi-final and Paul Geaney has ball-in-hand and half-a-yard of space. Keith Higgins powered from one leg to the other to stop him getting the shot off and eventually Mayo turned it over to find an equaliser.

Kickout masterclass: Armagh’s Blaine Hughes against Kildare. It was like one laser beam after the next, drilled into runs as far away as the half-forward line.

Kickout of the year: Stephen Cluxton putting Tyrone's press right back in the box by driving it 80 yards over them to Niall Scully at the very outset.

Blaine Hughes' display of kicking against Kildare was superb. Picture by Seamus Loughran.

Crazy statement: Bray Wanderers going full rebel and starting off with: “In 1916 some brave Irish men and women stood up for the cause of Irish freedom as they were tired of the oppression being suffered by the Irish people at the hands of the British Army.” All in a bit to have a cut at Wicklow County Council about the lack of development at their ground.

Sight: The fluorescence of thousands of Armagh supporters flocking back to Croke Park, lighting up the darkening Dublin sky with their unmistakable orange coat of arms.

Quote: Terence McNaughton to Brendan Crossan: “Your club means playing with the guys that are going to carry you to your grave.”

Emotional post-match interview: Cork under-21 hurling manager John Meyler after his side scored a last-minute goal to beat Waterford in the Munster semi-final. He could hardly speak.

Double-take: Connaire Harrison kicking identical brilliant scores off Drew Wylie, one in Armagh and the other in Croke Park, both from the left corner off the right foot having thrown his man off first.

Club game: Only saw Slaughtneil and Kilcar on TV but by all accounts, it was food for the soul.

Putdown: RTÉ’s Paul Reynolds to a boastful Conor McGregor about his batmobile: “It’s only a 1.5, Conor”.

Waste of space: U2. Not only did they cut up the pitch at the Hill 16 end, leading to an early black card for Dean Rock in the Leinster final, but they were crap on top of it all.

Back-to-back performances: Graham Reilly hitting seven points from play in two consecutive games for Meath.

Costly gym equipment: £15 for a foam roller and a very public row.

Where’s your money now: Derry minors going full frontal against Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final and beating them back at every turn.

Needless internal strife: Nobody from Antrim, barring his management and Joe Edwards, seeming that keen to give Matt Fitzpatrick a dig out with his appeal against a red card.

Clubs got screwed: There were teams in Dublin whose club championship campaign was over before the leagues had even started in Armagh.

Training session: Tony Adams’ first effort at Granada looked more like a circuits class for pensioners.

Backtracking: “I can reveal that a percentage of the money from the testimonial will go towards Kerry GAA and Dr Crokes”. Colm Cooper there on The Late Late Show, trying to put the cork back in the bottle.

Punditry effort: RTÉ’s panel at the Women’s Rugby World Cup, for their critical approach that brought coverage for women’s sport into a new stratosphere.

Long overdue recognition: Colm Cavanagh winning the Allstar he’s long deserved.

Holding my hands up: I had Down relegated halfway through the League but they put in some shift from there to stay up and become one of the stories of the summer.

Deserved a clip: As all members of the goalkeepers’ union will agree, Ronan O’Neill ought to have been poleaxed for his lob over Mickey Cunningham in the Ulster final. No call for that.

Attacking display: Donegal under-21s hit the ground running against Cavan – 15 shots, 1-14 scored.

Comeback: In the Christmas spirit, it has to go to Moorefield for their Leinster final win from six down with two minutes left, even ahead of Barcelona’s recovery against PSG.

Off the Christmas card list: The traffic man who compounded a weekend at Congress by clamping my car. €60 and two days of my life that I’m never getting back.

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