James McClean was voted the 2017 RTÉ Sportsperson of the Year last weekend. The news came as a surprise to many. McClean fended off competition from Joe Canning, Andy Moran, Katie Taylor and Noelle Healy to claim the prize.
The Derryman scored a crucial goal to put Ireland into the World Cup play-offs but it was his contribution off the pitch that seemed to impress the Irish public. He spoke out against the horrendous racist abuse his team-mate, Cyrus Christie, suffered and donated £3,000 to a young fan battling eye cancer.
Despite this, many disagreed with his selection, including journalist Paul Kimmage. Kimmage told Today FM's The Last Word of his disapproval.
It's astonishing - even by their [RTÉ] standards, it's pretty astonishing. Everybody likes him. I love his commitment to the team. I love the way he plays for Ireland, it's totally admirable. His performance in every game, he gives 100 percent.
There's definitely times that he needs to stand back and be more clear-headed but his overall contribution to the team, it's fantastic but by no means is he the Sportstar of the Year, it just makes a mockery of it.
Tonight, McClean has fired back at the comments while also addressing the other critics of the public vote:
It was a statement supported by his Irish team-mate, Jon Walters:
— Jonathan Walters (@JonWalters19) December 19, 2017
In fairness to Kimmage, he did confess to being a huge fan of McClean prior to disagreeing with the decision. The fact remains that this was a public vote and thus any grievances should be raised with them, not McClean or RTE.
As he so elegantly stated, it's hard to imagine McClean will be bothered by this criticism as he puts up with it year-round anyway. Now he has a shiny new trophy to comfort him too.