YOUNG Kevin O’Donovan has the honour of being the lone Nemo Rangers player to be selected on the All-Ireland Club team of the year.
The 21-year-old defender will receive his award at a ceremony at Croke Park tomorrow night, when in addition to the football and hurling teams, the footballer and hurler of the year will also be announced.
It’s a good week for O’Donovan, who made his first appearance of the season for Cork, when introduced in first-half injury-time against Derry at Páirc Uí Chaoimh last Sunday.
Kevin, son of manager Paul, missed the start of last season’s county championship through injury, but returned to be one of Nemo’s most consistent performers en route to winning Cork and Munster.
Typical of the modern way, O’Donovan showcased his attacking skills as well as his defensive duties, when bombing forward to score Nemo’s opening goal in the 2-17 to 0-5 trouncing of Austin Stacks in the Munster final.
And while Nemo succumbed for the second time in three years to the all-conquering Corofin from Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final at the start of January, O’Donovan managed to maintain his high consistency level.
Unsurprisingly, the team is dominated by Corofin, who have seven players in the side following their historic three-in-a-row.
The 15 are drawn from players from five clubs across the provinces after another intriguing set of games.
Beaten finalists, Kilcoo from Down, are represented by four players while Ballyboden/St Enda’s, with two, and Éire Óg, Carlow, are also honoured.
The Galway and Connacht kingpins have now won 20 of these awards since their introduction in 2018 and defender Liam Silke and sharp-shooter Martin Farragher have been recognised in all three seasons.
Silke and midfielder Ronan Steede are in the running for player of the year along with Kilcoo wing-back Daryl Branagan. It’s expected to be a close call.
The team is: B Power (Corofin); A Branagan (Kilcoo), K Fitzgerald (Corofin), L Silke (do); K O’Donovan (Nemo Rangers), R McDaid (Ballyboden St Enda’s), D Branagan (Kilcoo); D Burke (Corofin), R Steede (do); G Sice (do), P Devlin (Kilcoo), S Gannon (Éire Óg); C Basquel (Ballyboden St Enda’s), M Farragher (Corofin), C Laverty (Kilcoo).
Meanwhile, O’Donovan and the rest of the country will soon have to get used to not playing the ball back to his goalkeeper should he be on the end of a short kick-out.
At last weekend’s low-key annual Congress, the new ‘back pass’ rule from kick-outs was passed without too much opposition from delegates even if some high-profile county managers questioned the need for its introduction.
The new rule ensures a player who receives a kick-out cannot immediately pass it back to his keeper.
The penalty for a breach of the rule is a free-kick awarded to the opposition from the position the goalkeeper receives the pass.
Or if the keeper is inside the 13m line, when receiving the pass, the free will be from the 13m line opposite where the infringement occurs.
Director General, Tom Ryan, explained how the rule will be implemented.
“The standard position is, it comes in a month after Congress and we are actually going to do that, with the exception of the National Football League finals,” Ryan says.
Cork are heading for the division 3 decider on Saturday night, the 28th, so they are likely to get their first taste of the new rule.
“The tricky little thing is that it’s for every football match, not just for inter-county matches.
“We tossed it around for a few minutes at Central Council and pretty much everybody at the table had a perspective.
‘Our league has already started’ and ‘our league is starting in three weeks’ time and has an interregnum of two months and then gets going again.’
“The cleanest way to do it, we concluded, was we’d just come in with it,” Ryan added.