BY CHRIS MCNULTY
DONEGAL full-back Neil McGee’s excellent season has been recognised with the Gaoth Dobhair man making the short list for the 2014 Footballer of the Year.
McGee is one of NINE Donegal players to have been nominated for All-Star awards.
McGee kept a lid on the country’s top attackers during 2014. In last month’s All-Ireland final, McGee kept James O’Donoghue scoreless and managed to score a point himself although Donegal were beaten by Kerry.
McGee is nominated for the Player of the Year gong alongside O’Donoghue and Dublin’s Diarmuid Connolly.
Kilcar men Ryan McHugh and Patrick McBrearty are in the running for Young Player of the Year. The Donegal duo are joined in that race by Galway’s Shane Walsh with McHugh the favourite to land the prize following a stellar summer.
McHugh was man of the match in the Ulster final and in the All-Ireland semifinal win against Dublin, a game in which he netted two goals.
McGee, McHugh and McBrearty are three of the Donegal players who are among the 45 All-Star nominees.
Goalkeeper Paul Durcan is tipped to get the goalkeeper’s berth. While Durcan made a high-profile error for Kieran Donaghy’s goal in the final, the Donegal town native had a superb season up to that point and is expected to beat the challenges of Monaghan’s Rory Beggan and Dublin’s Stephen Cluxton.
Neil McGee is joined on the list by his brother, Eamon, while Frank McGlynn is nominated among the half-backs.
Neil Gallagher confirmed earlier this week that he has no intention of retiring and the Glenswilly man has received a nomination at midfield as has breakthrough ace Odhrán MacNiallais, who was one of the success stories of Donegal’s year.
Captain Michael Murphy has played a number of roles this year and his nomination comes in the half-forwards where McHugh is also listed while McBrearty is among a star-studded cast vying for positions in the full-forward division.
There is some surprise in Donegal at the absence of Karl Lacey from the list of nominees.
Of the Donegal players nominated Durcan, Neil McGee, McGlynn, Gallagher and Murphy are previous winners.
Recently crowned All-Ireland champions Kerry lead the way with 11 nominations and are followed by beaten All-Ireland finalists Donegal who, along with Dublin, earn nine.
The GPA membership will vote on the short lists for the two individual awards and all of the awards will be presented at the annual All-Stars banquet which takes place in the Convention Centre in Dublin on Friday October 24.
Paul Durcan (Donegal), Rory Beggan (Monaghan), Stephen Cluxton (Dublin).
Fionn Fitzgerald (Kerry), Keith Higgins (Mayo), Éamonn McGee (Donegal), Neil McGee (Donegal), Andy Mallon (Armagh), Rory O’Carroll (Dublin), Philip McMahon (Dublin), Paul Murphy (Kerry), Drew Wylie (Monaghan).
Aidan O’Mahony (Kerry), Peter Crowley (Kerry), James McCarthy (Dublin), Frank McGlynn (Donegal), Dessie Mone (Monaghan), Jonny Cooper (Dublin), Colin O’Riordan (Tipperary), Colm Boyle (Mayo), Lee Keegan (Mayo).
Neil Gallagher (Donegal), Michael Darragh Macauley (Dublin), Odhrán MacNiallais (Donegal), Anthony Maher (Kerry), David Moran (Kerry), Séamus O’Shea (Mayo).
Johnny Buckley (Kerry), Diarmuid Connolly (Dublin), Paul Flynn (Dublin), Aidan O’Shea (Mayo), Ryan McHugh (Donegal), Michael Murphy (Donegal), Donnchadh Walsh (Kerry), Shane Walsh (Galway), Mark Lynch (Derry).
Kieran Donaghy (Kerry), Paul Geaney (Kerry), Conor McManus (Monaghan), Cillian O’Connor (Mayo), James O’Donoghue (Kerry), Brian Hurley (Cork), Kevin McManamon (Dublin), Tony Kernan (Armagh), Paddy McBrearty (Donegal).
Young Player of the Year Nominations
Ryan McHugh (Donegal)
Shane Walsh (Galway)
Paddy McBrearty (Donegal)
Player of the Year Nominations
James O’Donoghue (Kerry)
Diarmuid Connolly (Dublin)
Neil McGee (Donegal)