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Cillian comes out on top

Sport

2605 top-100Analysis
Edwin McGreal

HOLDER of five Mayo senior club championship winners’ medals and the county’s all-time leading points scorer, Cillian O’Connor from Ballintubber has been selected as the number one Mayo club player in our inaugural ‘Top 100 Mayo Club Footballers’ series.
O’Connor held off stiff competition from some of Mayo’s best club and county players with consistently high votes from our 16 senior judges.
The 28 year-old has been considered a key player in Ballintubber’s five Moclair Cup successes in the last decade. That has been acknowledged by his selection as a Mayo News Club Star on six occasions.
His ability to deliver when it matters most has been further rubber-stamped by his selection in first place in senior in our comprehensive rankings of the current ‘Top 100’ club players.
O’Connor took first place by 16 points from county team-mate Paddy Durcan of Castlebar Mitchels.
Out of a possible 800 points, O’Connor amassed an impressive 748 points.
Only 81 points separated the top six footballers, and their composition proves you don’t have to be a ‘county man’ to be highly regarded by our judges. In their number was Neil Douglas of Castlebar Mitchels and recently-retired Mayo star Andy Moran.
The 2017 Footballer of the Year came in third with O’Connor’s younger brother Diarmuid in at fourth, underscoring how highly regarded the brothers are in Mayo.
Breaffy’s Aidan O’Shea came in fifth, just ahead of Neil Douglas.
Current Mayo News Club Stars Footballer of the Year, Jason Gibbons, came in seventh with Ballina’s Padraig O’Hora the highest of six Stephenites in the top 50, in eighth position.
Knockmore talisman Kevin McLoughlin was ninth with Aghamore’s Fergal Boland completing the top ten.
Four-time All Star Colm Boyle was next, followed by Ballintubber’s Michael Plunkett and Ballina and Mayo goalkeeper David Clarke was the highest goalkeeper on the list, in thirteenth.
Breaffy’s Matthew Ruane and Belmullet’s Ryan O’Donoghue complete the top 15.
Coming after them to make the top 20 were Aghamore’s Brendan Harrison, Tommy Conroy of The Neale, David Drake of Ballaghaderreen, former Footballer of the Year Lee Keegan and Shaoiroze Akram of Ballagh’.
Castlebar Mitchels goalkeeper Rory Byrne, Belmullet’s Chris Barrett, Brian Reape from Moy Davitts, James McCormack of Claremorris and Garrymore’s Shane Nally complete the top 25.

Club spread
THREE-in-a-row chasing Ballintubber were readily acknowledged by our judges as the pre-eminent force in Mayo club football. They had a very impressive nine players in the top 50 which was selected by 16 judges, one from every senior club for 2020.
They are well clear of the field in that regard.
Coming in next are an emerging force in Mayo club football, Ballina Stephenites with six of their players selected. They were ahead of Castlebar Mitchels, Ballaghaderreen and Breaffy, who each had five.
Belmullet and Charlestown each had three players in the top 50 while Aghamore, Claremorris, Garrymore, Knockmore and Westport had two players each.
Every club at senior level was represented in our top 50 with Davitts, Kiltane, Moy Davitts and The Neale each having a player each.
Our stellar panel of judges each picked their top 50 senior footballers, allocating 50 points to their number one pick all the way down to one point for their final pick.
With Ballina’s Ger Cafferkey coming in 50th with 159 points, no one single judge’s selection could unilaterally decide matters.
Like our intermediate and junior judges, our senior judges also did not allow club allegiances overly sway them and there was considerable consensus in the top ten selections by each judge.
Judges were asked to base their selections on current club form heading into the 2020 season.
Between them, our judges have serious credentials.
There are two former Mayo captains (Alan Dillon and Peter Ford); All-Ireland winning Minor and U21 managers (Austin Garvin and Ford); an All-Ireland club winner (Paul McGarry), six former Mayo senior footballers and, between them, our judges have almost 20 Mayo SFC winners’ medals.
Five of them are still current senior footballers while three of them are senior club managers.
We are extremely grateful to all of them for their time and their insights.

THE BEST OF THE REST
A recap of those picked from 26-50 — 26: Eoin O’Donoghue, Belmullet; 27: James Shaughnessy, Claremorris; 28: James Durcan, Castlebar Mitchels; 29: Ryan Lynch, Ballaghaderreen; 30: Ciarán Treacy, Ballina Stephenites; 31: Alan Dillon, Ballintubber; 32: Paul Towey, Charlestown Sarsfields; 33: Caolan Crowe, Garrymore; 34: Donie Newcombe, Castlebar Mitchels;
35: Brian Murphy, Ballintubber;
36: Evan Regan, Ballina Stephenites; 36: Darren McHale, Knockmore; 38: Gareth O’Donnell, Charlestown; 39: Fionn McDonagh, Westport; 40: Mikie Sweeney, Kiltane; 41: Mikey Murray, Ballina Stephenites; 42: Alan Plunkett, Ballintubber; 43: Gary Loftus, Ballintubber; 44: Conor O’Shea, Breaffy; 45: Damien Coleman, Ballintubber; 46: Seamie O’Shea, Breaffy; 47: Cian Hanley, Ballaghaderreen; 48: Tom Parsons, Charlestown; 49: Rob Hennelly, Breaffy; 50: Ger Cafferkey, Ballina Stephenites.

OUR SENIOR JUDGES
Aghamore: David Kenny, player; Ballaghaderreen: Stephen Drake, player; Ballina: Paul McGarry, former player; Ballintubber: Alan Dillon, player; Belmullet: Liam Lavelle, former player; Breaffy: Peter Ford, manager; Castlebar: Martin Carney, former player; Charlestown: John Casey, former player; Claremorris: Austin Garvin, former manager; Davitts: Mickey Conroy, player; Garrymore: Danny McHugh, former player; Kiltane: Ciarán O’Hara, manager; Knockmore: Nigel Reape, former player; Moy Davitts: Anthony Jordan, player; The Neale: Eoin Hughes, manager; Westport: Charlie Lambert, former player.

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