FAI names award nominees as O’Neill ready to unveil squad

Aiden McGeady, John O’Shea and Jon Walters are all in the running for the ‘Three’ FAI Senior International Player Of The Year award.

The nominees were announced ahead of today’s naming of the Irish squad for the European Championship against Poland qualifier at the end of the month.

The awards ceremony, which will be broadcast live on RTE2, will take place on Sunday March 22.

While Walters is also regarded as a front-runner in the race to become Stoke City’s player of the year, McGeady or O’Shea could yet do an Irish awards double as both also feature as FAI ‘Goal Of The Year’ contenders, the Everton winger for his sublime solo effort to seal a 2-1 win in Georgia and the Sunderland stopper for his dramatic last-minute equaliser against Germany in Gelsenkirchen. Also in the running is Anthony Pilkington for his goal in the friendly against the USA in Dublin in November.

Derby duo Jeff Hendrick and Cyrus Christie will battle for the Young Player gong with Hull City’s Robbie Brady, while Cork City’s Colin Healy, St Patrick Athletic’s Christy Fagan and former Dundalk striker Pat Hoban are the last three in the contest to be named the SSE Airtricity League Player of the Year. The U21 contenders are Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Tommie Hoban (Watford) and Ian Lawlor (Manchester City).

The nominations, chosen by a panel from the Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland, are divided into 20 categories. Among the other honours to be announced at the special ceremony in the 25th year of these awards, a former Republic of Ireland great will be inducted into the FAI’s Hall of Fame, a Special Merit Award will be given for services to the game here and the International Personality of the Year will also be recognised.

Meanwhile, as Martin O’Neill today prepares to reveal his squad for the crunch game with Poland at the Aviva Stadium on March 29, he already knows he will be without awards nominee Robbie Brady who is out with a calf injury he incurred while training with Hull.

And there are still concerns too for Aiden McGeady who, suffering from a bruised bone, hasn’t played for Everton since the end of January. Better news for the Ireland manager comes with the return from injury of David McGoldrick, the Ipswich Town striker who impressed on his Irish debut against the States. Said his club boss Mick McCarthy yesterday: “He was on the grass for the first time last Thursday doing work. He’s looking much happier and smilier — that’s what happens when you get off that treatment table. It’s looking more optimistic. Can he still play a big part in our season? Of course he can.”

With only a small number of premium seats left to fill, it’s understood that the game against Poland at the Aviva is already close to a sell-out.


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