There are only two in the final 10-person shortlist for the RTÉ Sportsperson of the Year award who look like winning.
Shane Lowry is the overwhelming favourite following his historic Open win on Irish soil. Katie Taylor is close behind having unified the lightweight division before becoming a two-weight world champion. One of these two will win, not many will argue that.
However, that’s not a slight on the rest of the top 10 who all had a stellar 2019 season.
Seamus Callanan hit eight goals in eight games en route to lifting the Liam MacCarthy Cup. In other years, that alone would be enough to claim the award. Following the camogie final, Niamh Kilkenny was the toast of the nation after her heroics helped Galway win just a third All-Ireland title.
Jason Smyth smashed his own Championship record en route to winning his eighth gold medal at the World Para-Athletics Championships. Sanita Puspure continues to awe and inspire as the 37-year-old mother of two won her second consecutive gold medal at the Rowing World Championships.
Ciara Mageean endeared herself to everyone with her easy-going manner both before and after she became the first female Irish athlete in two decades to qualify for the final of the World 1500m Championship before finishing tenth with a personal best in what was one of the fastest races in the history of the event.
Rhys McClenaghan became the first Irish gymnast to medal at the World Championships thus booking his spot at Tokyo 2020, while Denis O’Sullivan continues to tear it up in the greatest league in women’s soccer.
What a truly astonishing year it has been.
However, Stephen Cluxton is our choice as winner. Not just because he was the oldest ever recipient of the Footballer of the Year gong in the same season that Dublin completed the five-in-a-row.
No, Cluxton should take home the award as recognition following a decade of success that stands absolutely unparalleled to anything we have seen in Irish sport.
Much has already been said of the honours Cluxton has amassed over two decades of football with Dubs including seven All-Irelands, 15 Leinsters, five National Leagues and six All-Stars but it’s important to remember that of those 33 honours, 24 were won over the last ten years.
His record as a captain is freakish.
Many may forget that Cluxton captained Ireland to success in the 2011 International Rules Series just a few months after he hit the winning score to end the Dublin famine and start a blue wave.
As that blue wave continues to wash out the entire nation, ‘Clucko’ has been steering the ship since 2013. He became the third overall and first player since 1917 to lift the Sam Maguire Cup on three separate occasions and, since achieving that, has done it three more times.
The Parnells man also became the first player in history to reach 100 Championship appearances, finishing the year with 106. In that time he has kept 59 clean sheets including 34 in his last 64 appearances between 2010-2019. He’s scored 48 points in that period too while conceding just 43 goals.
It goes even deeper than all the stats and the honours for Cluxton’s imprint on the game has been felt indefinitely. He has revolutionised the entirety of goalkeeping in Gaelic Games and is more often than not the focal points of the opposition’s gameplan to beating Dublin, not many have succeeded though.
He has created a legacy that will last a lifetime and, for that reason, he would be our choice as not only Ireland’s Sportsperson of the Year but of the whole decade.