Colm Parkinson makes a good point in Young Footballer of the Year debate 1 year ago

Colm Parkinson makes a good point in Young Footballer of the Year debate

Tyrone's Michael McKernan had a fine year, but this is as close to a two-horse race that you can get.

Back in 2017, Brian Howard was tipped for great deeds by none other than Diarmuid Connolly.

Around the same time, the entire county of Kerry pushed their chips in behind David Clifford. 18 going on 19, the Fossa club-man was The Kingdom's next great talent.

The pressure and expectations placed on the shoulders of both young men were significant but neither looked put out. They showed early signs of promise and exploded into life in the championship.

Clifford, Howard and McKernan were all nominated for Young Player of the Year and the rightful recipient of the accolade made for a lively debate on The GAA Hour (from 38:00 below), with host Colm Parkinson making a couple of salient points.

"Until the All-Ireland final," Parkinson began, "I had David Clifford as a shoe-in. Now, I don't know. That's because Brian Howard was outstanding in the final. He has been outstanding all year."

As we stand, Paddy Power has Kerry forward Clifford at 2/5 while Howard is 7/4. "I have this at 50/50," Parkinson added. "I cannot separate these two.

"Brian Howard has had an unbelievable year, if you look back at all his games, and this is his debut year.

"Clifford had an unbelievable Super 8s. And this is what I'm counting it on. I'm not counting it on the Munster or Leinster championship.

"Howard was outstanding against Donegal... he was man-of-the-match that day only that Niall Scully got the two goals. Unbelievable. Up against Tyrone then and solid, up to the point where Tyrone had to put Mattie Donnelly on him. And this is his debut year!

"I would have had Clifford as a clear favourite but Howard's second half performance of the all-Ireland, for me, I'm 50/50 on this." 

SportsJOE's Conan Doherty believes Howard has done enough to win the award and feels he was 'very close' to securing an overall Footballer of the Year nomination. With Howard just missing out on that nod, and Clifford not featuring seriously in that discussion, Parkinson was close to coming down on Howard's side in this debate.

Clifford should get the accolade, according to Conor Heneghan, because the teenager surpassed even the mightiest of expectations in 2018 and did so with the minimum of fuss and maximum of carnage to some top defences.

"He lived up to the expectations and more in a Kerry team that wasn't really firing," he said, "and he provided some unbelievable moments. That goal against Monaghan is going to be talked about for years....

"Brian Howard will be hard done by if he doesn't get it but I think Clifford will get it."