Andrew Cunneen: Big battle for Player of the Year

Andrew Cunneen: Big battle for Player of the Year

THIS week, I take a look back on the season to date and try to shortlist nominations for Player of the Year.

Given the fact that Limerick's competitive league season is almost over to a degree, I feel I'm not jumping the gun too much.

Let's get the admin out of the way. Shane Duggan has been beyond excellent whenever he's played, but as of now, there's twenty games gone in the season and Duggan missed seven of them.

Given it's such a large chunk, it wouldn't be fair to include him. The next likely contender would be John O'Flynn, but he's only started six league games. He's Limerick's top scorer and yet won't feature.

Aaron Greene sat out for an extended period of time also, so he misses out.

In a season where so many different XIs took the field, it may be hard to point out contenders, but I've narrowed it down to four, and you can share your views with me on Twitter @Cunneen92.

In no particular order, the shortlist is: Lee-J Lynch, Paul O'Conor, Stephen Kenny and Chris Mulhall.

It's been a different kind of season for Lynch. Not only has he been playing in the hole, but against Athlone, he picked up a free role - often drifting out the flanks, while being the ball-carrier in Duggan's absence.

His quality is undeniable and when Limerick struggled without Duggan in the middle of the season, Lynch picked up his game and played the senior role you expect of him. There's a difference between Premier Division Lee-J and First Division Lee-J.

His work isn't always noticed in the top flight as, in Russell's system, the man in the hole pulls defenders out of shape to create space for midfield runners, but this year - it's apparent how good he is on the ball, and does give the Blues that spark when they're flat.

Paul O'Conor is the cog that keeps things ticking over in this team. Lynch and Duggan are all-action and deal with moving the ball. O'Conor's role is about finding space to receive the ball in.

Limerick kept the ball superbly all year and a lot of this is down to O'Conor's awareness on a football pitch.

Not only does he contribute in that sense, he's picked up a handful of goals along the way and chipped in at right back, like a true team player would.

Every side needs a Paul O'Conor and Limerick are lucky to have him.

If you'd told me six months ago that Stephen Kenny would be in the conversation for Player of the Year, I'd have been bemused. Kenny was a talent at Cobh, but a very raw one.

Although his fitness and defensive work rate sometimes leave a bit to be desired, I think he's probably done more as an individual for this Limerick side than anyone else in this campaign.

Low block systems are hard to break down, and so often it's been Kenny up against a winger and a full back. Partially aided by Shaun Kelly, Kenny wins almost every one-on-one, and his set piece deliveries have been very good.

A real difference maker and a fan favourite when he's on the ball.

If the inclusion of Kenny would shock me, Mulhall being the leading contender would have knocked me for six.

Always known as a winger to me as I grew up watching the League of Ireland, Mulhall's replaced Vinny Faherty in a bizarrely effective fashion.

His work rate and desire is unrivalled and he's bagged himself a nice tally of goals to go along with it.