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Lee Keegan, Brian Fenton or Ciaran Kilkenny – who is your Footballer of the Year?

Two Dubs and one Mayo man are up for the big award.

IN EACH YEAR since 2011, the Footballer of the Year has been awarded to a player from the All-Ireland champions.

Alan Brogan (2011), Karl Lacey (2012), Michael Darragh MacAuley (2013), James O’Donoghue (2014), and Jack McCaffrey (2015) all picked up the gong on the back of successful campaigns.

Taking all that into account, Lee Keegan might well be the first player since Bernard Brogan in 2010 to take home the award despite not lifting Sam Maguire.

Keegan is up for the award along with Dubs Brian Fenton and Ciaran Kilkenny.

Lee Keegan (Mayo)

Lee Keegan Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Keegan was the lynchpin of the Mayo defence right throughout their run to the All-Ireland final replay. Often the man tasked with marking the danger-man in the opposition, the 27-year-old got better as the season went on.

Stephen Rochford’s decision to play Keegan in a more defensive role looked questionable earlier in the year, but it was all part of making this Mayo side more difficult to play through.

He managed to keep Sean Cavanagh, Michael Quinlivan and Diarmuid Connolly quiet, while expertly picking his moments to attack. Keegan’s first-half goal in the replay – a beautiful finish into the bottom corner after he ghosted past Diarmuid Connolly – was a reminder of his offensive talent.

Mayo’s most consistent player all year, for his body of work over the past few years, he thoroughly deserves of the big award. Had the Westport defender not been black-carded in the ill-fated replay, Sam might be resting out west this winter.

Brian Fenton (Dublin)

Brian Fenton Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Fenton’s rise to prominence has been something else. Two years ago he was virtually unknown, now he’s comfortably the finest midfielder in the land.

The sheer athleticism of the Raheny midfielder has provided Stephen Cluxton with a reliable outlet to hit in midfield, and forced opposition to rethink pushing right up on Dublin’s kick-outs. Do that and you leave Cluxton with acres of green grass to pick out his midfielder.

Although he wasn’t quiet as prominent in the All-Ireland final replay, he was one of the driving forces in blue all summer.

Ciarán Kilkenny (Dublin)

Ciaran Kilkenny Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

A key cog of Dublin’s running game, Kilkenny spent much of his time dictating the tempo from deep.

His versatility meant he spent significant game-time at wing-back during the summer as Jim Gavin’s hand was forced with the absence of James McCarthy through injury and then a black-card.

It’s easy to be critical of Kilkenny’s tendency to play it safe in possession, but much of that was down to the slower nature of Dublin’s attack in the absence of Jack McCaffrey.

The Castleknock forward showed his put his hand up and demanded possession in the dying minutes of the All-Ireland final replay with the game hanging in the balance. It was the same all year. He stood up to be counted.

Who do you think deserves to be named Footballer of the Year?


Poll Results:

Lee Keegan (2971)
Brian Fenton (1844)
Ciaran Kilkenny (484)



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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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