At the annual RTÉ Sports Awards on Saturday night there was a noticeable lack of recognition for the GAA world in the winners enclosure.
James McClean (soccer) won Sportsperson Of The Year, Aidan O’Brien (horse racing) took home Manager Of The Year and the Irish showjumpers collected the Team Of The Year gong, with all three respective winners fending off competition from GAA nominees.
While the Dublin footballers and Galway hurlers would have felt they were in with a relative chance of clinching the Team Of The Year accolade going into the ceremony in Donnybrook, it was unfortunately not to be for the pair of 2017 All-Ireland champions.
What many found most bemusing about the national broadcaster’s end-of-year awards, in particular the centrepiece Sportsperson Of The Year category, was the exclusion of Dublin’s Con O’Callaghan from the list of nominees. The Cuala star had a simply incredible 2017 where he collected Young Footballer of The Year and an All-Star along with his starring role in Dublin’s third consecutive Sam Maguire Cup triumph to accompany the under-21 All-Ireland football title he captained the county to as well as being a driving force in his club’s All-Ireland SHC win in Croke Park on St. Patrick’s Day.
How could such an historic twelve months of achievements be so candidly overlooked in the running for such an award?
Kerry legend and RTÉ Sunday Game analyst Tomás Ó Sé shared his thoughts on the whole scenario, coming out in defence of his own rivals from his playing days and the 21-year-old sensation O’Callaghan. RTÉ hurling pundit Michael Duignan echoed those thoughts.
I’d love if I was wrong ?…. but the dubs were team of the year. Jim Gavin was manager of the year and Con o Callaghan???? They have been snubbed..no doubt about it. 3 in a row is some achievement not done since 80s!!!
— Tomás Ó Sé (@tomas5ky) December 17, 2017
James Mc Clean is a man I admire greatly but to me Con O Callaghan is by far the outstanding Irish sportsman of 2017. His achievements will never be matched.
— Michael Duignan (@DuignanMichael) December 16, 2017
Ó Sé, now playing his trade with Cork’s Nemo Rangers, and Offaly legend Duignan were not alone with his viewpoint:
Not sure it’s dawned on most people what we might be witnessing with Con O’Callaghan. We haven’t seen this kind of success/impact from a 21yo dual GAA player since JBM. Worth a nomination last night, at least. #RTESportAwards
— Michael Foley (@MickFoley76) December 17, 2017
Nobody could convince me that Con O Callaghan wasn't the sports person of the year for 2017. There's lads in the Hall of fame who have won less than he did in 12 months. #RTESportsAwards
— andrew cushen (@andrewJcush) December 16, 2017
Dissapointed that Con O Callaghan wasent recognised. Some talent and delivered when it counted.
— Tony Davis (@allireland1) December 16, 2017
Meanwhile, Cork camogie captain and fellow dual star Rena Buckley was nominated for the award, but alas came up short to Republic of Ireland fan favourite McClean, resulting in disappointment amongst her supporters.
— Mary White (@mary_white33) December 16, 2017