After helping Dublin capture their second All-Ireland Under-21 Football title, Ciarán Kilkenny has been named as the 2012 Cadbury Hero of the Future.
The prodigious talent, who starred at corner forward during the title-winning run, was presented with his award by Dublin Under-21 manager Jim Gavin at Croke Park.
The judging panel - Kildare senior footballer Dermot Earley, former Dublin manager Paul Caffrey and TG4 journalist Michael O’Domhnaill - gave serious consideration to who would win this award but ultimately Kilkenny's consistently impressive performances throughout the Championship edged the competition out in the end.
In total 16 footballers were shortlisted as part of the Cadbury Hero of the Future initiative. Kilkenny, who plays for his club Castleknock, was named man-of-the-match for his performance against Louth in the Leinster final where he scored 1-7 and he also finished as overall top scorer in the Under-21 championship with 2-31.
The judges gave particular mention to Cavan’s Kevin Tierney and Donie Smith of Roscommon who did well in the public vote and also performed admirably in their county’s Under-21 Championship charge and are no doubt players to look out for in the future.
GAA Director General Paraic Duffy said: "I would like to congratulate Ciarán on his award, it is a fantastic award to receive and he stands in very good company looking at the previous winners.
"It has been a fantastic U-21 Championship with thrilling contests and excellent attendances throughout.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank Cadbury for their continued support and congratulate them on their innovative sponsorship activation which has seen them bring the Cadbury GAA U-21 Football Championship to the widest possible audience in the most engaging manner possible."
Speaking on behalf of the judges, TG4's Micheál O’Domhnaill commented: "Ciarán was part of a very hard working and well organised Dublin team. He was a marked man in each game he played and yet managed to finish the Championship with 2-31 and very often set up team mates for scores.
"He worked very well as part of a formidable Dublin unit and took the step up from minor football in his stride. I look forward to seeing Ciarán perform at U-21 and senior level in the coming years and believe he is a worthy winner of the 2012 Cadbury Hero of the Future."
Kilkenny received a specially commissioned bronze award, and a cheque for €1,000. In addition to this, his club, Castleknock GAA club, also received a grant of €500 as did the Dublin County Board.
Jim Gavin was also presented with an award to mark Dublin’s achievement in winning the U-21 title - he was also manager of Dublin's successful 2010 side.
2012 CADBURY HERO OF THE FUTURE AWARD:
Winner - Ciarán Kilkenny (Dublin)
Donie Smith (Roscommon), Niall Kilroy (Roscommon), Cathal Shine (Roscommon), Niall Daly (Roscommon), Brian Egan (Sligo), Ciarán Kilkenny (Dublin), Paul Hudson (Dublin), Emmet O'Conghaile (Dublin), Jack McCaffrey (Dublin), Philip Ryan (Dublin), William Woods (Louth), Donal Óg Hodnett (Cork), Brian Hurley (Cork), James Walsh (Kerry), Kevin Tierney (Cavan), Darren McCurry (Tyrone)