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Poll: Who deserves to be crowned the 2016 GAA/GPA Footballer of the Year?

Brian Fenton is the front runner, but does anybody else deserve it more?

Brian Fenton (Dublin)

Brian Fenton Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

FENTON’S RISE TO dominance has been almost unparalleled. He’s the ultimate late-developer.

To think that his midfield idol Ciaran Whelan won only six Leinsters and two All-Stars after a 13-year inter-county career. Just 16 months after making his debut, Fenton has picked up a couple of All-Irelands, two Leinsters, an All-Ireland final man-of-the-match and, most likely, two All-Stars and a Footballer of the Year.

The best athlete on the Dublin panel, and that’s saying something.

Stat: In the 24 appearances he’s made for Dublin since making his starting debut in April 2015, Fenton is yet to lose a game.

Ciaran Kilkenny (Dublin)

Ciaran Kilkenny lifts The Sam Maguire Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

He has divided opinion at stages during the year for his possession-based style, but Kilkenny has been Dublin’s ‘point-guard’ for much of their attacking play.

The Castleknock man showed his versatility by becoming Dublin’s ball-carrier out of defence in James McCarthy’s absence earlier in the year, while he operated far closer goal in the replay against Mayo – one of his best displays of the season.

Arguably Kilkenny’s greatest asset: When the game is in the melting pot, he puts his hand up and demands the ball. In the last-minute of stoppage-time in the replay, Stephen Cluxton pinged a kick-out into the middle to a blue jersey who called for the ball despite having  four Mayo bodies converging on him. That sums up Ciaran Kilkenny.

Stat: At just 23, Kilkenny has won five Leinster titles and three senior All-Irelands, as well as U21 and minor titles.

Lee Keegan (Mayo)

Lee Keegan celebrates scoring a goal Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Keegan was Mayo’s most consistent player all season and had Mayo lifted Sam, he’d be the front-runner for the big award. Actually, had Keegan stayed on the field for the second-half rather than being black-carded, they might just have ended the 65-years of hurt.

No more than a handful of defenders (if even) in the country could keep Diarmuid Connolly under wraps. To do that and score a goal in an All-Ireland final, Keegan proved he is a special talent.

Stat: In the 4.5 championship games since 2013 that Keegan has marked Diarmuid Connolly, he’s outscored the Dublin player by 1-4 to 0-4.

Diarmuid Connolly (Dublin)

Diarmuid Connolly Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

When you listen to Diarmuid Connolly’s description of his penalty in the All-Ireland final, you begin to understand his genius. “Just take a breath, put it in the corner and put it away,” he said after the game. “That’s all it is.”


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In the most pressurised situation of his career, he dispatched the spot-kick like it was a kick-about among his friends.

Connolly enjoyed his best form for Dublin in 2016 and there’s a solid argument to be made that he’s the best footballer in the country.

Stat: Connolly and Cluxton are the only players to have played every minute of Dublin’s four All-Ireland wins since 2011.

Who do you think deserves to win Footballer of the Year?

Poll Results:

Lee Keegan (4491)
Brian Fenton (2528)
Diarmuid Connolly (1231)
Ciaran Kilkenny (461)
Other (420)

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Analysis: Mayo goalkeeper, Dublin’s movement, Keegan goal, deserved champions

What was your favourite goal from this summer’s football championship?

About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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