Donnellan gets two nominations for awards

 

Galway's re-emergence as a potent force in the football Championship has been reflected in the 1998 GAA Writers Footballer of the Year short-list, which is comprised solely of All-Ireland winning players.

Dunmore's Michael Donnellan, who has been nominated along with Jarlath Fallon and Martin McNamara, is also a front-runner in the Young Player of the Year category. He is named with team-mate Martin Joyce and Kildare's Martin Earleythe sole representative for the Lilywhites. Donnellan is the first player to gain a nomination in both sections.

Both provincial and national sports journalists participated in the poll and nominations were based on accumulation of votes.

While Galway utterly dominate the football categories, hurling champions Offaly also feature strongly in their section.

As expected, Brian Whelehan is in contention for Player of the Year, along with flying Waterford midfielder Tony Browne, who established himself as the Decies most influential performer over the summer and Clare's Sean McMahon, who put in a virtually flawless season in the heart of their defence.

Simon Whelahan, a younger brother of Brian, features in the Young Player of the Year section, a list otherwise reserved for goalkeepers.

Offaly 'keeper Stephen Byrne underlined a memorable debut summer by conspiring to execute a string of spectacular saves in the dying minutes of the All-Ireland semi-final series against Clare and he displayed tremendous composure against Kilkenny in the final.

However, Waterford's equally agile shot stopper Brendan Landers also makes a strong claim, having kept his county alive on more than one occasion as they scalped reputations on their way to the Munster final.

Landers nomination, along with those of McNamara and Byrne indicate the telling influence goalkeepers have had on this years Championship. No goalkeeper has ever featured in the shortlists before.

The Hall of Fame Awards will also be initiated at this year's reception.

Galway's Mattie McDonagh will become the first footballer honoured, in recognition of his unique place in the county's sporting lore. He won four All-Ireland medals with Galway, beginning in 1956 and completed during the historic three-in-arow era from 1964 to 1966.

He attempted to end a prolonged bleak spell for Galway football by guiding the senior team to the AllIreland final of 1983 when they lost to Dublin and his induction this year provides a timely footnote to a year which belongs to the current generation of Galway footballers.

Billy Rackard will become hurling's first Hall of Famer. Along with his brothers Nicky and Bobby, he starred in Wexford's back-toback triumph in 1955 and 1956 and triumphed again as Wexford defeated Tipperary in the 1960 All-Ireland final. Two years later, he captained his county as it fell to the same opponents.

The sole surviving member of the Rackard hurling trio, Billy comments regularly on hurling through his column with the Wexford People and penned an acclaimed biography, No Hurling at the Dairy Door, two years ago.

The awards will be presented in the Guinness Reception Centre in Dublin on Friday, November 20th.

Tyrone players Mattie McGlennan and Seamus McCallen will miss their teams NFL opener against Dublin in Parnell Park on Sunday. Both were dismissed in a club match between Eglish and McCallen's Carrickmore. However, a post match handshake between the two signalled a willing conciliation.

Meanwhile, John O'Mahony is expected to be without defenders Tomas Mannion and John Divilly as Galway prepare to open their League programme away to Leitrim. Both picked up injuries in club games.