Derry captain Matthew Downey named Electric Ireland Minor Footballer of the Year 2020 as six Oak Leafers make 'Team of Year'
Derry's All Ireland winning minor captain, Matthew Downey, has been crowned Electric Ireland Minor Footballer of the Year and joins five follow Oak Leaf All Ireland winners on the 'Team of the Year'.
It was Downey's decisive late spot-kick that secured the All Ireland title in dramatic fashion against Kerry last week to cap a fairytale year for Martin Boyle's team who had secured the Ulster title thanks to an equally dramatic victory over Monaghan in Healy Park.
And central to victory that night in Tyrone was Kian McGonigle's superb late save, a moment which ensured the Dungiven keeper also takes his place on the team of the championship where he is joined by team-mates Lee Brady, Eoin McEvoy, Mark Doherty and Desertmartin forward Lachlan Murray who was superb. Indeed Murray's inclusion is just reward following his heartbreak at a controversial second half red card in the Ulster final, a decision that was later over turned after which he played a starring role, including a goal in the final, in Derry's march to a first minor title in 19 years
"Electric Ireland, proud sponsors of the GAA Minor Championships, is pleased to spotlight 15 outstanding performers from the 2020 Minor Football season, unveiling the 2020 Electric Ireland GAA Minor Football Team of the Year and the Electric Ireland Minor Football Player of the Year," said a spokesperosn for Electric Ireland.
"Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, which caused many delays to the season, the 2020 Electric Ireland Minor Football Championship proved to be an exciting championship and an excellent showcase of the young talent in the GAA."
In all, the 'Minor Team of the Year' features six players from Derry, All-Ireland finalists, Kerry have four players represented and Leinster champions, Meath contribute two while Monaghan, Offaly and Roscommon each have one representative.
Downey's selection as 'Minor Football Player of the Year' comes as little surprise after the Lavey forward consistently produced for his team, showing maturity beyond his years by stepping up to score that phenomenal penalty in added time of the All-Ireland Final.
The team was selected by a panel of GAA experts and was determined in part by Electric Ireland’s ‘Player of the Week’ initiative on Twitter.
2020 Electric Ireland GAA Minor Football Team of the Year
1. Kian McGonigle (Derry and Dungiven)
2. Liam Kelly (Meath and Ratoath)
3. Lee Brady (Derry and Bellaghy)
4. Dara O’Callaghan (Kerry and Kilcummin)
5. Oisín Maunsell (Kerry and Na Gaeil)
6. Eoin McEvoy (Derry and Magherafelt)
7. Cathal Ryan (Offaly and Daingean)
8. Connor Eccles (Monaghan and Cremartin)
9. Paudie O’Leary (Kerry and Gneeveguilla)
10. Mark Doherty (Derry and Newbridge)
11. Matthew Downey (Derry and Lavey)
12. Keith Evans (Kerry and Keel)
13. Conor Hand (Roscommon and St Brigid’s)
14. Lachlan Murray (Derry and Desertmartin)
15. Eoghan Frayne (Meath and Summerhill)
During the 2020 Minor Championships, Electric Ireland also spotlighted Minor players who stepped up and made life-changing contributions to our society. Connor Eccles, a worthy member of the 2020 Team of the Year, was one such Minor whom Electric Ireland featured in their TV ad. In 2020, Connor set up a fundraiser campaign for his teammate’s younger sister, who had fallen ill. Connor galvanised the Minor squad, a local GAA club, Magheracloone, and his community to either walk or run a socially distanced mile for Milly. The different fundraising campaigns raised nearly €200,000.
These achievements from Minor players, like Connor, across the country spurred Electric Ireland to introduce a Special Recognition Award to acknowledge Minor players’ commitment to their communities. These individuals were recognised through the Electric Ireland GAA Minor Special Recognition awards, celebrating their major contribution off-the-pitch.
Anne Smyth, Sponsorship Specialist at Electric Ireland, commented: “We are delighted to announce the 2020 Electric Ireland Minor Football Team of the Year. It is particularly pleasing to see so many Ulster players on the team, it has been a remarkable season for Derry and they are to be congratulated on their consistency and effort.
"What these young players have achieved, both on and off the pitch, in an unprecedented season was more major than ever. We appreciate the magnitude of the minor journey this year and acknowledge the sacrifices made by these teams to get here and we would like to commend every player, who played a part in the 2020 Electric Ireland Minor Championships, on their resilience and resolve.
Uachtarán CLG Larry McCarthy said: “I would like to congratulate the Electric Ireland Minor Football Team of the Year and specifically Matthew Downey, the Electric Ireland Minor Football Player of the Year, on their achievements during the 2020 Minor Football season.
"These young players have been incredible throughout a long and difficult season and have been a great advertisement for Gaelic Football. I cannot wait to see what the future holds, both on and off the pitch, for everyone who took part in the 2020 Electric Ireland GAA Minor Championships. It is unfortunate that we will be unable to honour the players in a formal ceremony, however, I have no doubt that their achievements will be celebrated by their friends, family, coaches, clubs and their county, which they represented so well this season.”