Every team needs leaders. When the chips are down, leaders – real leaders – can be the difference between winning and losing a game.
Twelve months ago after his side won the County Final, easily beating Ballinacourty in the decider and then going on to the Munster Club Final against Dr Crokes, The Nire’s Thomas O’Gorman was named Waterford’s Adult Footballer of the Year. And he’s up for the prize again this year, which is of no great surprise to anyoine who saw the Valleymens’ talisman in action.
Many people that follow the football scene on Waterford would have expected The Nire to put back to back titles together for only the second time in the club’s history. But this is something which clubs in Waterford with the exception of the extraordinary Stradbally club have found hard to do this century.
But nobody could have said this year that Benji Whelan’s charges didn’t give it one hell of a go. For much of last Sunday week’s County Final clash with Stradbally they were the better side, and over the 60 minutes of normal time, they were never behind .
But things for The Nire in 2017 were much different to 2016 in personnel terms, missing half the side which lifted the Conway Cup just 12 months previously.
For most sides to miss one or two players from a successful team would be a loss, some might say even a blow, but The Nire just got on with the job and nearly put back to back titles together.
For some reason when picking a Man of the Match in any particular game, a player from the winning side often seems to get the nod for the gong.
Nobody could deny that Shane Ahearne had a massive game for Stradbally over the 80 minutes played against The Nire, and in the process kicked some impressive scores.
But on another day the award could easily have gone to a member of the side that ultimately tasted disappointment on the day.
For much of the game Conor Gleeson was in outstanding form, living up to his credentials as a player whose footballing prowess exceeds even his hurling acumen. But possibly their best player on the day and over the course of the whole Championship was Thomas O’Gorman.
When leaders were needed during the course of the year he was outstanding for both Club and County often playing in the full-back line where he is best suited.
Throughout the season, O’Gorman showed his versatility, advancing upfield and often into attack in the hope of getting his name on the scoresheet, or helping to engineer a point or goal.
There was times this year when The Nire made things look all too easy, and remember just how many players they were missing from last year’s title defence, but at times you would not have noticed this given how well Thomas O’Gorman played and led his team. For me, he deserves a second successive Footballer of the Year award.