PwC All-Stars Footballer of the Year Kieran McGeary has admitted that he never expected to be crowned as the best player in Ireland.
It has been a dream year for Tyrone, as the O’Neill County were crowned as All-Ireland football champions, had eight players named in the All-Stars team, while McGeary got the nod for the best player award.
Tyrone were far from favourites to lift the Sam Maguire, especially as they suffered a 16-point hammering at the hands of Kerry in the Allianz League Division One semi-final, but they upset the odds to claim an unlikely All-Ireland triumph.
McGeary was speaking after being named as the PwC All-Stars Footballer of the Year and admitted that winning such an award seemed like a “far off dream” not so long ago.
Kieran McGeary on being named as the PwC Footballer of the Year.
“It was always something that I wanted to win but when you end up breaking into the senior panel and you figure out the number of good players that are in and around the Tyrone team and when you consider all the players in the different teams, did you ever think that you would get to the top of the tree? Probably not,” McGeary admitted.
“It was a far off dream at one stage. Winning the All-Ireland had become more of an ambition, so it did. But I suppose your best has to be expected on the pitch. Luckily mine this year was good enough to be voted for the position that I’m in at the minute. So I’m delighted with it all.”
McGeary saw off competition from a number of his Tyrone teammates in picking up the award, in a year where several players who wore the Red Hand on their jersey put in the best performances of their career.
Tyrone teammate Conor Meyler would have been very close to picking up the award himself, and McGeary revealed that he would have voted for him had he gotten the opportunity.
“I honestly would have had to have gone with Conor. He is a serious warrior of the game and he needs very little introduction. He was a solid person for the top three, but no I definitely would have had to vote for Conor,” McGeary said.
“He’s a massive standard-setter in our team and his attitude on and off the pitch is brilliant and aside from that he’s a good lad. I taught with him, I went to uni with him before, I’ve had plenty of great nights out with him as well.
“He’s full of craic, full of banter. But there’s a massive serious element to him, he wants to achieve in life everything that he does. So he deserves to be there as well.”
— The GAA (@officialgaa) December 10, 2021
‘I think a lot of us maybe just caught ourselves on.’
Tyrone of course won the All-Ireland this year with a new management ticket, as joint managers Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher combined to bring the Sam Maguire back to the O’Neill County for the first time since 2008.
The Ulster side did look to play a more attacking brand of football this year compared to previous years, but McGeary doesn’t believe that Logan and Dooher made any massive changes since taking over from long-standing Tyrone manager Mickey Harte.
“I suppose a lot of people would look at how we played this year and say that we played so differently. They would see it was a lot more attacking, a lot more this and that. But things were very similar. I think a lot of us maybe just caught ourselves on and played a wee bit better than we normally did,” McGeary explained.
“Yes, things kicked into gear and there were certain players who had never played before. We got a bit of potluck as well throughout the run this year. Things were lifted another level but that’s only to be expected. I’d say if Mickey had been there he would have lifted things another level.
“But Brian and Feargal, like what any player brings to the game, you all bring different things. Brian and Feargal brought their own management team, their own set-up and their own coaches. It was their time to show what they had in place and look, we were very lucky that a lot of their decisions this year worked out for us.”
Kieran McGeary on championship restructure proposals.
The All-Ireland Football Championship will continue in a familiar guise next year as Proposal B, which would have seen a league format implemented in the tournament from 2022, was rejected at the GAA Special Congress in October.
GPA CEO Tom Parsons had revealed that 80 per cent of players were in favour of Proposal B passing before it was voted on at the Special Congress, although McGeary admits that he didn’t pay much attention to conversations surrounding championship restructure.
Although he wasn’t too concerned with whether Proposal B passed or not when it was being voted on back in October, he did reveal that Joe Brolly recently swayed his opinion on the matter.
“Because of the timing that it was on I used very little energy looking at it, to be quite honest. I was scrolling through Twitter and I had my understanding for Proposal A and B,” McGeary said.
“I was only at a talk show there last weekend down in Cargin and Joe Brolly was sitting beside me and that was one of the questions he was asked. Thank God it was asked of him and not me because if I had said the wrong thing and he would have chided me.
“But he answered it really well and he spoke about the equality needed in the GAA and how things are never going to change if the smaller counties who haven’t achieved in so many years don’t get an opportunity to do so. He put a very valid point across for Proposal B and I suppose that was the only time I was really nudging towards, ‘Yeah, you have a point there.’”