GAA Football

Tyrone's Kieran McGeary named 2021 PwC Footballer of the Year among eight Red Hand winners

Tyrone vice-captain Kieran McGeary (right) has been voted 2021 Footballer of the Year - pictured at The Irish News All-Stars in Belfast.
Picture by Hugh Russell

2021 PwC All-Stars awards:

TYRONE enjoyed a fabulous night in the PwC All-Stars awards, with eight players honoured and vice-captain Kieran McGeary from Pomeroy also named as Footballer of the Year.

The 27-year-old McGeary becomes the fourth winner from the O'Neill county, following on from Peter Canavan in the inaugural season for the title, 1995, then Stephen O'Neill in 2005, and Sean Cavanagh in 2008. McGeary is the first from Ulster since Donegal's Karl Lacey in 2012.

Limerick's Cian Lynch was selected as Hurler of the Year, the Patrickswell clubman having previously earned that honour in 2018. Both the Young Footballer of the Year and the Young Hurler of the Year awards were retained, with Oisin Mullin of Kilmaine and Mayo again getting the former and Eoin Cody of Ballyhale Shamrocks and Kilkenny receiving the latter. Those four accolades were voted for by the membership of the Gaelic Players' Association.

The media selectors allocated the Red Hands representatives in every department of the football team, from goalkeeper Niall Morgan to his Edendork St Malachy's club-mate Darren McCurry at right corner-forward, with six other clubs from the O'Neill County represented in between them.

The teams beaten by Tyrone in the All-Ireland Final and semi-final, Mayo and Kerry respectively, received three All-Stars each, with Leinster champions Dublin getting one - Ciaran Kilkenny.

The Ulster and All-Ireland senior football champions' skipper Padraig Hampsey of Coalisland was joined in defence by Omagh's Conor Meyler, Pomeroy Plunkett's man McGeary, and Errigal Ciaran's Peter Harte.

Derrylaughan's Brian Kennedy edged out fellow Tyrone man Conn Kilpatrick for a place in midfield, while Niall Sludden of Dromore will be a popular winner, handed the right half-forward slot.

Six of those Tyrone men were among nine first-time All-Stars, with only Hampsey and Harte having previously been honoured. Two men were collecting their fifth accolades, namely Mayo's Lee Keegan and Dublin's Ciaran Kilkenny, while Kerry's David Clifford got his third.

The last-named's brother, Paudie, received his first All-Star, as did Mayo midfielder Matthew Ruane along with his county colleague Ryan O'Donoghue, the best attacker for the Connacht champions this year.

Kerry's Sean O'Shea, who top-scored in the Championship, with 2-29 from just four matches, was very hard done by not to receive a second All-Star after winning two years ago.

Tyrone's tally of eight Allstars has only been exceeded by exceptional teams - Dublin's six-in-a-row side of last year and their 1977 All-Ireland winners, plus the Kerry team which completed four-in-a-row in 1981.

The Red Hands matched their haul of eight from 2005, a total which was also achieved by the dominant Donegal team of 2012.

The eight awards brings Tyrone's total of All-Stars since the scheme's inception in 1971 to 57, now with 33 different players having been honoured. Hampsey and Harte join nine fellow county men who have won more than one All-Star: Peter Canavan (6), Sean Cavanagh (5), Philip Jordan (4), Brian Dooher, Conor Gormley, Eugene McKenna, Stephen O'Neill (3 each), Colm Cavanagh and Mattie Donnelly (2 each).

The awards bring first All-Stars to three Tyrone clubs, Derrylaughan, Edendork, and Pomeroy, so now 20 different clubs from the county can boast All-Stars, adding to - in alphabetical order - Aghyaran, Ardboe, Augher, Carrickmore, Castlederg, Clann na nGael, Coalisland, Cookstown, Clonoe, Dromore, Eglish, Errigal Ciaran, Moy, Newtownstewart, Omagh, Owen Roe's (Leckpatrick), and Trillick.

Kerry's Cliffords become the 17th set of brothers to receive football Allstars, and the first in the same season since Alan and Bernard Brogan of Dublin a decade ago.

Mullin remarkably becomes the third Mayo man to win back-to-back Young Footballer of the Year awards, following on from Cillian (2011 and 2012) and Diarmuid O'Connor (2015 and 2016).

However, the night undoubtedly belonged to Tyrone, and Kieran McGeary.

2021 Footballer of the Year: Kieran McGeary (Tyrone)

2021 Hurler of the Year: Cian Lynch (Limerick)

2021 Young Footballer of the Year: Oisin Mullin (Mayo)

2021 Young Hurler of the Year: Eoin Cody (Kilkenny)

2021 PwC Football All-Stars:

1 Niall Morgan (Tyrone)

2 Padraig Hampsey (Tyrone)

3 Lee Keegan (Mayo)

4 Tom O'Sullivan (Kerry)

5 Conor Meyler (Tyrone)

6 Kieran McGeary (Tyrone)

7 Peter Harte (Tyrone)

8 Brian Kennedy (Tyrone)

9 Matthew Ruane (Mayo)

10 Niall Sludden (Tyrone)

11 Paudie Clifford (Kerry)

12 Ciaran Kilkenny (Dublin)

13 Darren McCurry (Tyrone)

14 David Clifford (Kerry)

15 Ryan O'Donoghue (Mayo)

Tyrone - 8; Mayo - 3; Kerry - 3, Dublin - 1.

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