So here we are approaching yet another Bank Holiday weekend with glorious weather. While the year is quickly passing us by, there is no doubt that we are closer this week than last week to the resumption of our games.
GAA pitches all over the country will be open again soon and who knows, we might get to see club action sooner than expected. We really need to get our young population back active and healthy again. Hopefully, we will have a knockout Inter County Championship in a couple of months and what a prospect that will be – and let’s hope with crowds in the stand.
Last week we spoke about the Dubs once again being the team to beat, with Kerry the most likely candidate to knock them off their pedestal. Now let’s look at who potentially could become Footballer of the Year 2020.
It’s no surprise in the betting market that Dublin and Kerry have nine of the top 12 players listed with David Clifford at the top, so that’s as good a place as any to start.
There is no doubt that Kerry will have to improve if they are to dethrone the Dubs, but in David Clifford they have one of the best forwards you are likely to see. He has everything required to go right to the top and had Kerry got over the line in last season’s All-Ireland final, he could have picked up this award as a 20-year-old.
I have had the pleasure of watching him develop at the underage level and I’ve yet to see him have a bad game. It’s hard to imagine him improving even more, but that’s what will happen with his age and he will have learnt a lot from last year’s experience. He is the nearest thing to unmarkable you will see.
It also helps that every Kerry footballer from positions 1 to 12 will look for his runs and he is likely to be one of the top scorers this season. If Kerry are to lift the Sam McGuire in 2020, David Clifford will be the main man.
I mentioned Shane Walsh last week as it looks like he is finally living up to his ability and make no mistake Shane can become a truly great player. If you are to look outside of Dublin and Kerry for a winner, you have to look no further than Galway on the evidence of this year’s National League.
They have the players to mount a real challenge in this year’s Championship and if they are to make the breakthrough, Shane Walsh will be their outstanding player. It is also worth considering that while it seems a long time ago now, Shane Walsh was the outstanding player in this year’s League.
If there was a Player of the Year award up to the end of the League, it certainly would have gone to Walsh. He’s a wonderful player and also is the current Galway captain 2020.
Murphy is undoubtedly one of the greats. Donegal on their day have the ability to beat any team in the country. A knockout championship might suit them best and if any of the top teams are to get caught on the hop, Donegal will be there to pick up the pieces.
They certainly have the potential to get to the All-Ireland final and if they do, Michael Murphy is a serious contender. Similar to Cluxton, he is generally selected for every individual award and was outstanding against Dublin in this year’s National League.
This enforced break will do him no harm, as there is a lot of miles on the clock. A fresh rejuvenated Michael Murphy is a frightening prospect for any defence.
The obvious contenders for Dublin are Con O Callaghan, Jack McCaffery, Brian Fenton and Ciaran Kilkenny, but I have to say the odds of Stephen Cluxton jumped out at me. The goalkeeper is the outstanding player in this Dubs side on a consistent basis and if Dublin are to win yet another All-Ireland, he will be central again.
A lot of people expected him to retire after last year’s final, but it seems Dessie Farrell and his management team have persuaded him to continue.
A welcome break during the Nation League campaign will have re-charged the batteries and he is mentioned yearly in every individual accolade. I see this year being no different.
These are surprisingly good odds for an outstanding player. Howard was fantastic for Dublin throughout last season’s path to victory he will be a huge player for Dessie Farrell and his management again this term.
He is very versatile, in that he can play in numerous positions and it is saying a lot that he has become one of the first players on the team sheet.
When selecting a player for betting on for Footballer of the Year, you have to stick with the tried and trusted in terms of who will win the All-Ireland and for me the Dubs are likely to reach at least the showpiece. Brian Howard is one of their top players, who seems to start every game. On that basis the odds on him getting the top gong are far too big for me.
- Colm O’Rourke: Dublin still have all the answers in these uncertain times
- John Mullane: 5 hurling teams to watch for winter All-Ireland glory
- Colm O’Rourke: 9 footballers who could be Ulster’s finest this season