Danny Hughes picks his Irish News Ulster Allstars team
Irish News ‘Breaking Ball’ columnist Danny Hughes picks his Irish News Ulster Allstars team ahead of next Thursday’s gala night and it is Mickey Harte’s Red Hands who dominate his selection with six awards...
1 Chris Snow (Fermanagh)
WHILE this may be one of the most important positions on the team in the modern game, Snow rarely put a foot wrong.
The other nominations played well in parts, however, some wayward dead ball shooting and decisionmaking ruled Niall Morgan out despite his usual high standards. Snow is becoming an exceptional consistent performer and would deserve his Allstar.
2 Cathal McCarron (Tyrone)
HAS been brilliant all year. A compliment to his man-marking skills meant he picked up Aidan O’Shea and despite O’Shea getting the better of him on that occasion, he remains one of the best full-backs in province. Winning an Irish News Ulster Allstar may make for a nice ending to the autobiography which he has undertaken. Redemption takes many forms.
3 Drew Wylie (Monaghan)
STRONG, consistent and one of the best man markers in the game at present. Monaghan were dumped unexpectedly from the Championship by Longford, but Drew Wylie remained one of the best players on the field. Brilliant performances all year and at full-back he is my choice in a key position.
4 Paddy McGrath (Donegal)
VERY athletic, strong and, as a full-back, has the key marking ability which makes this position one of the most demanding in today’s game. Not content with defending, McGrath can support attacks and can be often spotted on the end of some of Donegal’s silky attack play.
5 Ryan McHugh (Donegal)
McHUGH’S first half display in the Ulster final was as good as any individual display this year. Kicked three points and, while targeted in the second period by some old school man-marking, would start in the first 15 of any team in Ireland at the minute. A contender for player of the year also.
6 Conor Moynagh (Cavan)
NOT many noticed his influence at times, however, it was very evident that this man has become a hugely influential player for Cavan. They will be disappointed to have been beaten by Derry, noting some very questionable referee decisions thrown into the mix in that particular game. Moynagh will be a big player for Cavan going forward.
7 Tiernan McCann (Tyrone)
INSPIRED move by Harte to move him to wing-back. However, in today’s game the similarity between wing-forward and wing-back exists within the 20 metre space between each position on lining out. Thankfully he was not involved in any of the silly stuff of 2015 and let his football do the talking. Strong, quick, fit, he’s the epitome of a modern half-back.
8 Colm Cavanagh (Tyrone)
PLAYS his role to perfection and for that reason gets the nod here. Cavanagh does not play as an orthodox midfielder as we know but can hold his own against the best out there. None of us like the verbal stuff and, like his teammate Tiernan McCann, I am sure he is well aware of that now.
9 Mattie Donnelly (Tyrone)
DEVELOPING into the main man for Tyrone and is the future of the team. One of the best in Ireland and one of the few who delivered against Mayo this year. Two-footed and physically and athletically imposing, Donnelly gets on with the game. Never involved in diving, sledging or any other questionable gamesmanship, this is one of the reasons why he is so highly thought of.
10 Danny Heavron (Derry)
BRILLIANT in Derry’s last outing against Tipperary, he has been consistent all year. Hard work and ability to carry the ball make him one of the more able half-forwards in the game. Will be disappointed to have put in such a strong year and not get to Croke Park to show off his ability.
11 Peter Harte (Tyrone)
YOU forget that Harte has been about since his late teens at county level and he has matured into one of the best footballers around. Had a poor first half against Donegal when Ryan McHugh ran riot. They were just too similarly matched, but when freed up, there are few around who are as comfortable on the ball as this footballer.
12 Martin Reilly (Cavan)
AN out-and-out wing-forward and can shoot, pass and, more importantly, run. Reilly will probably go to wing-back next year such is the way the game is going. However, good footballers can play anywhere and I see no reason why he won’t be a mainstay in Cavan for years to come.
13 Mark Lynch (Derry)
DRAGGED Derry through matches and although Tipperary beat them, Lynch was one of the main players for Derry. One of the last few true corner-forwards in the game. His point-taking remains tremendous and he will need a few more of his team-mates to step up if he is to get recognition at national level.
14 Sean Cavanagh (Tyrone)
LEE Keegan did a great manmarking job on him. But if the ref had not dished out a needless second yellow, Tyrone could have easily found themselves in a final. His experience in the last five minutes surely would have counted. Think 2008, when Kerry began to implode in the last 10 minutes and Cavanagh did the necessary.
15 Conor McManus (Monaghan)
ONE of the best forwards in the entire country right now. Unfortunately, there is no supporting act in Monaghan and for this reason McManus may not ever get the medals a footballer such as him deserves. A class act, even when not fully fit.