Friday 19 January 2018

Jon Walters favourite for the FAI Player of the Year

O'Shea, McGeady and Walters nominated for best player gong



AIDEN McGeady, Jon Walters and John O'Shea are the three nominees for the FAI/Soccer Writers Association of Ireland Player of the Year award.

It's a trio made up of a veteran with a house full of medals, an enigma winger still searching for consistency and probably the best of them, a mid-table journeyman professional who has made the very best of what he's got.

Technically, the award goes to the man who has had the outstanding international season for Ireland but inevitably in these things, other considerations often colour the choice. Club form would always have some influence.


Clearly with McGeady, his international efforts are not matched by any great forward movement in his club career. When Everton host Dynamo Kiev tonight, he will be sitting in the stands still nursing his knee injury.

Out on the pitch, James McCarthy and Seamus Coleman will be the object of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill's attention if he can grab a minute during a dinner engagement with Roy Keane to help raise funds for Waterford United.

After naming his squad for the crunch Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland on March 29 at the Aviva Stadium, McCarthy's well-being continues to be his most pressing concern. Even Darron Gibson has been getting more game time than McGeady and his current injury problems will be a great a source of great frustration to him given how close we are now to the game against Poland.

Although he does seem to retain Roberto Martinez's backing, there's nothing like a star-spangled competitive international performance to lift confidence for the season run in with Everton. A decent result tonight and the Europa League final beckons.

O'Shea's nomination in fair enough. While the last vestiges of Brian Kerr's golden generation have been dropping one by one, he stands solid alongside Robbie Keane.

O'Shea has stepped comfortably into Keane's squad leadership role on a number of occasions over the last 12 months and did the job as if he was born to it.

Last but definitely not least is Jon Walters, a man with an attitude which many players better than him could learn from and someone who has built a Premier League career on his own willingness to work.

Everything he does from the moment he begins preparation for a game reflects his honesty of approach and a heartening gratitude for the gift he has been given.

He has been brilliant for Stoke and a rallying point for Ireland and in O'Neill's time as manager, he won't have found anyone more committed and more willing to listen. Certainly, a worthy Player of the Year winner in a thin enough 12 months.

Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick and Cyrus Christie are up for the Young International Player of the Year.

pThe FAI/SWAI awards will be broadcast live on RTE on March 22 at 8pm.

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