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Player of the Year 2014

NI Football Daily’s awards for the Player and Young Player of the Year are back, after proving hugely successful in our inaugural year.

2014 saw Cliftonville historically retain the league title despite a Linfield resurgence, while Glenavon defied the odds to lift their first Irish Cup trophy in 17 years as they overcame Ballymena United in the showpiece. It was another year of fine showings in Europe – both the Blues and the Crues progressed, while the Tommy Breslin’s champions held Debrecen of Hungary before a narrow defeat with 10 men in the return. Linfield defeated Swedish giants AIK after they disposed of Faroese opposition again, but crashed out 2-1 on aggregate.

The year also saw a return to the top flight for Institute who won Championship One in dramatic fashion on the final day, as Bangor could only draw with HW Welders on the final day to hand Stute the title and promotion, which also condemned Ards to automatic relegation after only a year back at the top table.

The Seasiders may have missed out on the title but did win the Intermediate Cup and have reached the last four of this season’s League Cup and the final of the County Antrim Shield, as their promotion push looks destined to end in glory this time round.

The Irish League is proving itself to be the most predictable top level in the world with upsets a weekly occurrence. The title race has four genuine participants – while Glentoran are also showing signs of a resurgence following a difficult 18 months since their Irish Cup victory in 2013. Glenavon and Ballymena have also had spells at the top of the league, while Coleraine’s current form is among the best in the division.

In this year’s ‘player of the year’ and ‘young player of the year’ shortlists we have selected six players in each. These players were chosen after consultation and interaction with fans of all top flight clubs.

We believe the shortlisting is fair and an accurate reflection of the year. Strikers make up two-thirds of the main award, but only one is listed in the younger equivalent.

It was decided again that to qualify for the ‘young player’ list the player had to be under 23 years of age.

Last year’s winners where then-Cliftonville striker Liam Boyce, who is now at Ross County, and Dungannon Swifts midfielder Jamie Douglas.

This poll closed on Wednesday, 31 December 2014