by Kevin Doyle
Senior Men’s Player of the Year
Nominee’s: Conor Kearns, Jack Moylan & Gavin Molloy.
Winner : Conor Kearns
When it was announced that the Templeogue man would be replacing universal fans favourite Brendan Clarke between the Reds goal this author along with very many other Reds I would venture took a wait and see view on the move, well the results are now in and it has been an absolute master stroke by the manager Damien Duff… oh us of little faith.
The 25 year old would go onto make 36 out of a possible 40 appearances in 2023 of which 35 games came in the 36 game league campaign, illness preventing a perfect season in this regard one would imagine.
Conor kept 14 clean sheets in league action just behind the league’s golden gloves winner for 2023 in Derry City’s Brian Maher, these 14 clean sheets are the most by a Reds keeper since Dean Delany kept 18 throughout the course of the 2010 campaign if Conor can go onto have half the career in Red as Deano did he will have done very well for himself indeed.
Throughout the course of his club leading 3,522 minutes on the pitch in 2023 or 90% of the total played by the Reds, Conor only conceded 25 league goals and was part of a defensive unit that conceded the tied 2nd fewest in the entire league alongside 4 in a row winning Shamrock Rovers and behind Derry City on 24 goals conceded.
All good sides are built on a solid defence and with Conor and the majority of the back line already re-signed for 2024 the Reds should once again be extremely difficult to break down next season both at home and abroad. What a delight it is to type that.
Senior Women’s Player of the Year
Nominee’s: Megan Smyth-Lynch, Maggie Pierce & Keeva Keenan.
Winner : Maggie Pierce
The 22 year old American is richly deserving of this award evident by the fact that she was chosen as the winner by unanimous decision by her fellow players in the senior squad. Maggie was also named in the Team of the year last Thursday night at the leagues award’s ceremony.
The North Carolinian was recruited by Noel King in February on the advice of Heather O’Reilly and had a standout first season in Red appearing in 29 out of 29 games.
Tied for the most with fellow nominee Megan Smyth-Lynch throughout the course of the 2023 campaign across 5 competitions playing in various positions with apparent equal ease and confidence.
In league action Maggie started 19 of the 20 league games behind only the other nominee Keeva Keenan. Scoring once in the away convincing victory over eventual champions Peamount in PRL Park back in march.
Maggie played a total of 2717 out of a possible 2791 minutes for the Reds in 2023 or a tad over 97% of the time and was part of a very good defensive line that would keep 12 clean sheets and conceded only 13 league goals all year to be tied with Galway United for the best defensive record in the league last year. We actually only conceded 12 of those while Maggie was on the field in the league.
Wouldn’t be an understatement to say everyone in Tolka park is hoping and dare I say praying to see Maggie don the Red jersey of Shelbourne again in 2024 having bought so well into what it means to be a Red this past year I’m hopeful we will.
Young Men’s Player of the Year
Nominee’s: Evan Caffrey, Gavin Molloy & Jack Moylan.
Winner : Gavin Molloy
The 22 year old Dubliner was the rock of an excellent Reds defence in 2023 and is fully serving of his young player of the year award an almost weekly addition to the league’s team of the week this year has been a stellar one for the grandson of a great Red from the past in Theo Dunne who made 139 appearances for the club between 1956 and 1965.
Making 29 appearances for the club this year including his 50th in all against Cork in September, of which 27 came in the league during which Molloy was part of the 2nd tightest defence in the league conceding only 20 times with him present in it and 27 times in total.
Molloy did pick up a nasty knock in our away fixture to Ucd in April missing the next 9 league games on the whole the Reds conceded 0.8 goals per game without Gavin during this spell compared to 0.7 goals per game with him in the side of which he spent 2,748 minutes in throughout 2023.
Another one re-signed for 2024 and our European adventure where he will be following in his grandfather’s footsteps after Theo played for the Reds against Sporting Lisbon, FC Barcelona and Belenenses of Portugal.
Young Women’s Player of the Year
Nominee’s: Courtney Maguire, Hannah Healy & Rebecca Devereux.
Winner : Hannah Healy
The 15 year old (yes you read that correctly) dubliner who is a transition year student currently taking part in the first ever running of a football based education course being run by Fingal County Council in conjunction with the FAI in swords where she is mentored by teammate Megan Smyth-Lynch star has certainly risen in 2023 and she is richly deserving of the young player of the year award even at her tender age.
I remember the first time i saw Hannah play it was in the WU-17 Reds cup semi final victory over Shamrock Rovers on a bitterly cold midweek night in Roadstone at the end of last season 2022 and she ran the show from box to box, I remember on the way home texting Rachel Graham and saying there’s a 14 year old girl in that 17’s team called Healy that will be coming for your jersey in 2 or 3 years, well that process was certainly fast tracked.
Having made her debut for the club in a 1-0 away win over Athlone town in May in doing so becoming the youngest women’s player for the club, Hannah would go onto make 18 appearances for the first team in 2023 add in 22 at academy level as well between U19 & U17 levels it’s been a busy year.
Hannah would score the first of her 3 senior goals this year in the home victory over Wexford in June in doing so becoming the clubs youngest ever goalscorer beating the mark set by her fellow nominee Rebecca Devereux earlier in the year, Hannah also found the net on 11 occasions at academy level in 2023.
In September just gone Hannah made a little bit of history when appearing as a substitute against Glasgow City she became the youngest ever player in Uefa Women’s Champions League History. The future is certainly bright for this rising star in Red who also appeared in the Green of Ireland at both U17 & U19 level this past calendar year.
I along with most Reds i’m sure can’t wait to see what 2024 holds for Hannah in Red and also the Green of Ireland.