Football

Breaking: James McClean Is The 2017 RTÉ Sportsperson Of The Year

Breaking: James McClean Is The 2017 RTÉ Sportsperson Of The Year

The Irish people have spoken. James McClean is the 2017 RTÉ Sportsperson of the Year.

Although Ireland were ultimately to lose out in a World Cup playoff that had seemed so promising from the outset, McClean's contribution to the qualifying campaign as a whole sufficiently endeared him to the voting public.

Not since Roy Keane in 1999 has an Irish footballer laid claim to the award, and alongside Packie Bonner (1990) and Mick McCarthy (2001), McClean becomes only the fourth man from the world of football to be singled out for this recognition.

Undoubtedly, McClean's winning goal for Ireland in a decisive fixture against Wales in October was a standout moment.

Yet, his fanatic determination to do his best for Ireland at any given opportunity was an infectious feature of McClean's performances throughout.

In the absence of the injured Seamus Coleman, McClean became one of the leading figures for the Irish team as they still managed to exceed expectations - despite the eventual disappointment of the playoff loss.

His conscientious effort to work publicly with authorities when his teammate Cyrus Christie became the victim of abhorrent abuse was yet another example of McClean's upstanding demeanor.

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A player who rarely shies away from his convictions (although he is usually left with little choice), McClean may be construed as a fortunate winner given the relatively limited nature of his sporting achievements this year.

Alongside many World champions and All-Ireland winners, the prospect of an ultimately fruitless qualifying campaign will be deemed insufficient reasoning for awarding McClean in this manner.

Yet, in a vote that was open to the general public, McClean's effort and determination were obviously deemed worthy enough, and, there is little doubt that he will cherish this recognition greatly.

One of the key figures as Ireland look toward qualifying for the European Championships in 2020 (a competition that may allow Ireland play at least two tournament fixtures in Dublin), here's hoping he demonstrates the same commitment and willingness to the Irish team for many years to come.

Claiming the remaining awards on the night were:

Young Sportsperson of the Year: Mona McSharry (Swimming)

Manager of the Year: Aidan O'Brien (Horse Racing)

Hall of Fame: Ken Doherty (Snooker)

Team of the Year: Ireland's Showjumping Team

See Also: Do The GAA Have Any Place Among RTÉ's Sports Awards?

Arthur James O'Dea

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