Players of the year

November 20, 2002
The County Player of the Year. There is no higher accolade within one's own county. And since Jimmy Mulroy won the prize in 1971, some top class performers have taken the Louth award. A recent look back through the G.A.A. in Louth, an historical record by Rev. John Mulligan S.M, and his 2000 publication of the G.A.A. in Louth - An historical record - the centenary - the millenium, prompted this article which looks back to the beginning of awards to individual players who have been deemed the outstanding Senior footballer of each year since 1970 until 1984, and from 1992 - 2002. When the Louth Past and Present players association was founded in 1968, with the late Fr. Michael Hardy as it's chairman and Frank Lynch, secretary, it decided to hold an annual dance. In 1970 the committee decided to make awards to the outstanding players in each grade, these awards were presented at the annual presentation dinner until 1984, at which time the association went out of existence. It would be eight years before these awards were re-introduced, this time on the initiative of the Louth Supporters club, with Johnny Mullen as it's chairman and Seamus McShane as secretary. The following is a short resume on each of the award winners; 1970 - Paddy Gallagher received the first award. He was Roche Emmetts goalkeeper and the county's first choice net minder. Paddy, in a distinguished career turned in many fine performances for club and county. He was considered to be one of the best goalkeepers to wear the county jersey. He won his only senior championship medal when Roche Emmetts won the title in 1958, whilst he was still a minor and the county minor keeper of that year. 1971 - Jim Mulroy of Newtown Blues was a key member of the side throughout the 1960's and into the 70's. Winner of nine senior championship medals, in 1961 and 1962 at centre field, and as captain in 62. Jim played in the right wing forward position in 1963, and full forward in 64. Reverting to centre half in 1966 and 67, his final three medals in 1969, 70 and 74 saw him figure at full back. Jim also gave sterling service to the county team and was county team manager in the 1980's. 1972 - The honour was awarded to Clan na Gael's Leslie Toal, the county's long serving full back, Leslie also lined out at centre half. A Clan's stalwart at senior level for 24 years, making his club championship debut in 1960, and his final appearance in 1984. Unlucky not to win a senior championship medal, Leslie managed Clans to success in 1985, and 1987. He was also a county selector in the 1980's and coached the Dundalk C.B.S to Leinster colleges success in 1985 and Dundalk secondary schools in 2001. Leslie is also the holder of Junior All Ireland championship medals in both hurling and football. 1973 - Another long time county star, Danny Nugent, received the honour, he too captained the Newtown Blues club to senior success, at right half back in the 1971 winning side, a position he also occupied for the Blues 1970 success. Danny received his first winners medal when he played at right corner forward on the 1967 side, and completed his tally when playing at centre half on the 1974 victorious team. He also won a Railway cup medal in 1974 with Leinster. Danny, when his playing career was over gave a lot of his time to coaching at under age level for club and county, and has also managed the Blues senior side. 1974 - Jim Thornton, of Cooley Kickhams, full back on the great Kickhams teams of the 1970's, Jim won senior championship medals in 1971, 1973, 1976. 1977 and 1978. Commanding the full back position in each final, he also gave many years service to the county team, and is a formerchairman of the Kickhams club. 1975 - Terry Lennon took the honour. As one of the leading county players he was a powerful asset to St. Brides before moving to Kilkerley Emmetts. Like Leslie Toal, Terry was among that band of great club players, not to win a senior championship medal. He was a commanding centre half, for both club and county. He continued to coach and manage Kilkerley Emmetts and was one of Paul Kenny's Louth management team. 1976 - Benny Gaughran, then of Dublin club, Civil Service, and formerly of Clan na Gael and U.C.D. A dynamic forward, Benny was an outstanding performer for his various clubs, his county of Louth and the province of Leinster. He was the winner of Dublin senior championship medals as well as Railway cup honours for Leinster gained throughout a long and fruitful career. 1977 - Damian Reid, from the Mattock Rangers club was acknowledged for consistently good performances with club and county. One of the most consistent forwards of his era, Damian has given continued great service to the county as both Minor team manager and also with the county's under 21 side. He has also assisted his club at all levels in a coaching capacity. 1978 - Gerry Farrell, from Cooley Kickhams, one of the greatest of Louth goalkeepers, Gerry was net minder in the peninsula's sides three in row senior championship successes in 1976, 77 and 78. He was still goalkeeper when Cooley again took championship honours in 1989 and 1990. Gerry was the county team's first choice goalkeeper for over a decade and also played for Leinster. In 2000, the millenium committee named Gerry as Louth's best ever goalkeeper. Gerry also received the honour of player of the year in 1980, the first player to receive the award twice, and finally he won an O'Byrne cup medal in 1980. 1979 - Michael McCabe, Dundalk Young Irelands. He was one of the main reasons for the club's arrival back in senior football. Michael was a huge influence in the club's capture of the senior title in their first year back in this grade. Michael was a member of Louth's under 21 Leinster championship winning side, he became a regular in the senior side in the half back line, and captained Louth to successfully capture the O'Byrne cup in 1980. 1981 - Matt McDermott, St. Fechins, was awarded the first of his first two honours; he gave sterling performances for both club and county and received the award in 1984. The 1984 award co-incided with St. Fechin's greatest era as the club captured the senior championship for the second time, gaining back-to-back victories in 1983 and 1984. Matt was at midfield for both successes and was captain of the county team in 1984. Matt also served as part of the county's managerial team under Paul Kenny. 1982 - Aidan Wiseman, Clan na Gael; Coming through the club's underage ranks, gaining a minor championship in 1976, Aidan was one of the pillars of the Louth senior team at centre half back. A member of Louth's Leinster under 21 victory in 1978, he continued to impress with his displays for the county seniors. He was a great loss to club and county when he emigrated to the U.S.A. but came home to assist Clan na Gael to victory in the 1985 senior championship, the club's first title success since 1959. Aidan also won representative honours for Leinster. 1983 - Dessie Callaghan of Newtown Blues was a very gifted player whether in the forwards or centre field. He was on the forty in Newtown Blues senior title triumph in 1981, was centre half and captain in 1986, and was cited at centre field for the 1988 victory. Dessie was also a member of the Louth under 21 title win, and also on the senior county side he played at right half back when they won the Division 3 title of the National football league in 1987/88. 1992 - David Mulligan, St. Josephs, took the award as he gave many outstanding performances for his club in their rise from Intermediate status to the senior ranks, playing at midfield, he was captain of the side for their 1990 intermediate title success. David was also a member of the county senior side in the late 80's and 90's. 1993 - Stephen Melia, received the first of his two awards, his first as a member of the John Mitchels club, for whom he gave sterling service, lining out at centre field in their 1992 junior championship success. Stephen was already an established member of the county senior side. He transferred to Dublin side, O'Dwyer's, for a couple of seasons before coming back to St. Josephs club, where he realised his ambition to play senior club football. Stephen lined at full back on the Louth side which won the National football league, Division 2 title in the year 2000. He has played for Leinster, and was a member of Paddy Clarke's management team in the year 2000/2001 1994 - Colin Kelly of Newtown Blues, one of the best scoring forwards the county has ever had in its ranks. Colin gained the first of his three senior championship medals in 1988, lining out at left corner forward, he was the side's leading scorer with 0-4. He was Blue's star performer in the 2000 triumph, operating at full forward; he garnered 11 points of his side's winning tally of 0-16. Gaining his third medal in the victory over Mattock Rangers in 2001, Colin then transferred to Clogherhead Dreadnots in 2002. A prolific scorer with the county he has also worn the Leinster jersey. 1995 - Gerry Curran, Clan na Gael's stalwart midfielder, winner of senior championship medals in 1985, at right full back, again in 1992 at left half back, at centre field in 1993 and 1998 when he also captained the side. Gerry also played with the senior county side, and lined out at midfield in the All Ireland B success of 1997. Gerry was on the C.B.S. side which won the Leinster colleges title in 1985. 1996 - Seamus O'Hanlon, Clan na Gael, the holder of four senior championship medals as a midfielder in 1985, 92, and 93, and lining out at right corner forward for the 1998 success. One of the finest midfielders ever to play for the county, Seamus has been dogged by injuries which prevented him from winning more honours. He has gained representative honours for Leinster in the Railway cup and has been on the winning side. He was also a member of Louth's National Football Division 2 league success. 1997 - John Donaldson, Stabannon Parnells and now Crossmaglen Rangers. John proved a great addition to the Parnell's cause following his transfer from Armagh, gaining championship medals in 1994 at right full back and at centre half in 1997. A regular on the county team, John then transferred back to his native Armagh where he has gained the ultimate success of an All Ireland senior medal following the county's national success in September. John is also the holder of Ulster senior championship medals. 1999 - Stefan White, Burren, Co. Down, one of the deadliest forwards at club or county level. Stefan's award came nearing the end of a star-studded career beginning his club career with his local club, O'Connells; he soon became an established member of the Louth senior side. He transferred to Castleblayney Faughs during 1986, where he won a number of Monaghan senior championship medals, also transferring his county allegiance to Monaghan; he also won an Ulster senior medal. Transferring back to Louth, to play with Clan na Gael, Stefan won Louth senior championship medals in 1992, at right corner forward, scoring 1-7 of Clan's 1-12 total tally. He again line out in the same position in 1993, and scored 0-8, he captained Louth's seniors in 1993. Stefan also gave an outstanding display in Louth's All Ireland B success and was on the C.B.S. side which won the Leinster colleges title in 1985. 2000 - David Reilly, St. Josephs, the Dromiskin's sides lively forward has been one of the key players in the club's success in lifting the senior title in 1996, scoring 1-1 in the final. He has been a regular on the county senior panel and was at right corner forward in Louth's capture of the Division 2 national football league title. 2001 - John Neary, Geraldines. The attacking wing half broke onto the county scene with great effect and played a vital role as his club pushed hard for a place in the senior football ranks.

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