What do Mayo’s Cora Staunton, Cork’s Julia White, Dublin’s Paul Mannion and Galway’s Joe Canning all have in common?
Well, according to a John West children’s survey of over 900 GAA-enthusiastic kids, male and female, those four players have been voted the nation’s favourites in their respective codes.
Staunton and White were chosen as the kids’ favourite ladies footballer and camogie player respectively while Mannion, with a whopping 40% of the vote, and Canning, who reeled in an outrageous 68%, came home in front in the race for the most popular footballer and hurler.
With the football and hurling seasons in full swing, John West, the official sponsor of GAA National Féile Competitions, surveyed over 900 kids to reveal their thoughts and predictions for what lies ahead this season.
When it comes to Ireland’s favourite players, Mannion and Mayo’s Andy Moran, who are no strangers to competing against each other, went head-to-head in the chase to be named as Ireland’s favourite footballer.
Mannion came out on top with 40% of the vote with Moran just missing out at 35%. The nation’s favourite hurler was undisputedly Joe Canning (68%) with Kilkenny’s Cillian Buckley coming in as a surprise second with 10% of the vote.
In a similar rivalry to the men, Staunton and Noelle Healy (Dublin) were the favourites among the children of Ireland but the Mayo woman took the lead with almost half of the vote (44%) of the vote.
Healy was close behind with just under a third (32%) of respondents naming her as their favourite footballer.
Cork and Kilkenny battled it out in a similar fashion when it came to the nation’s favourite camogie player, reigning All-Ireland champion White came out on top with 37% while runner-up Shelly Farrell received 27% of the vote.
Ireland’s favourite coach was one of the toughest decisions faced by our panel of expert GAA fans and there was only 1% in the difference between the countries top three! It was a photo finish but Wexford boss Davy Fitz edged into the lead with 26% closely followed by Dublin’s Jim Gavin and Kilkenny’s Brian Cody both on 25%.
According to the children of Ireland, it looks as though history is set to repeat itself with the Dubs the outright favourites to bring the Sam home again.
Over three-quarters (78%) of those surveyed chose the boys in blue as this years All-Ireland champions.
The competition between the hurling counties is a little bit tighter with Galway, Kilkenny and Tipperary all in the running for the Liam MacCarthy. Current holders, Galway lead the way at 37% of the vote Kilkenny and Tipperary trail behind with 28% and 22% respectively.
The John West survey confirmed that Hurler of the Year, Joe Canning is in high demand.
Almost a fifth (17%) of respondents voted him as the player they would most like to see transferred on to their own county team, Mayo’s Andy Moran was the country’s second choice at 7% and Diarmuid Connolly came in at 4%.
Despite the rivalry, natives from Dublin and Mayo do see the talent in their opposing teams – 11% of Dublin children would like to see Andy Moran put on the blue jersey while nearly a quarter (22%) of Mayo fans would welcome Mannion on to their squad.
Cork, Tipperary and Kilkenny are big supporters of the Tribesman with Canning being their No 1 choice of transfer.
In an unlikely turn of events Austin Gleeson was chosen by 23% of Wexford locals as the player they would most like to see don the yellow and purple jersey.
-John West Féile na nGael takes place from June 8-10 and John West Féile Peile na nÓg take place on the June 29 – July 1.