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MacRory Cup representation at record low levels in Ulster Schools' All-star scheme

The 2016-17 Danske Bank Ulster Schools AllStars, pictured with Jimmy Smyth, chairman of Ulster Schools’ Council, and Aisling Press, District Manager at Danske Bank. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Séamas McAleenan

FOR the first time in the 30 years of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ All-star scheme only five players from MacRory Cup squads have received awards.

Normally the selection is dominated by players plying their trade in the top competition, but the team announced yesterday at Malone House by Ulster Schools’ chairman Jimmy Smyth is packed with players at lower grades with two schools recognised for the very first time.

Callum Brown has had a busy few days picking up awards. At the weekend, the St Mary’s Limavady midfielder was honoured with selection on the Queen’s “Stars of the Future” team and now he gains a full Schools’ All-star as the youngest of the 15 players and first from St Mary’s.

Peadar Morgan is the other history-maker bringing Abbey Vocational School in Donegal town their first award.

At the other end of the scale, Barry McCambridge from St Ronan’s Lurgan picks up his second successive All-star in the full-back line. Last year he was in the left corner, but he moves to full-back this year.

St Ronan’s teammate, James McAlinden, is selected beside him in the right corner. Both played prominent roles for the St Ronan’s in their recent success in the Danske Bank MacCormack Cup final, the school’s first senior title since the re-organisation of post-primary education in the town in 2015.

Last year Conor McGrogan picked up the number 2 jersey and this year, his younger brother Padraig will wear number 6. Both are members of the Sean O’Leary club in Newbridge but Conor was a student in St Mary’s Magherafelt while Padraig is part of the St Pius X team bidding for the MacLarnon Cup this year.

Padraig’s teammate in St Pius X, Caolan Devlin from An Lúb, is also included in the team, while the third school with two All-stars is Our Lady’s Castleblayney.

Both Frank Connolly and James Wilson won MacLarnon medals in 2015 and Malachy O’Rourke has invited the latter into his Monaghan senior squad for the season ahead.

Another MacLarnon medallist, Niall O’Donnell, also makes the cut. Niall won his medal in 2014 with St Eunan’s Letterkenny and since then he has enjoyed success with club and county at minor level.

Patrick Quigg from St Patrick’s Maghera is the only player in the selection who already holds a MacRory Cup medal and one of five Derry minor players from 2016 selected, the others being the St Pius X pair, Limavady’s Callum Brown and Conor McCloskey from St Mary’s Magherafelt.

Overall there are six of the nine Ulster counties represented with Antrim, Fermanagh and Cavan the exception, while Down’s two are from the Carryduff club and Our Lady’s and St Patrick’s Knock.

Daniel Guinness and Josh Connery are only the 5th and 6th football award winners from the south-east Belfast seat of learning, although there have been eleven hurlers over the years and two announced in the Hurling team earlier this week.

James Wilson, Niall O'Donnell, and Frank Connolly with the MacLarnon Cup. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Jimmy Smyth, Chairman of the Ulster Schools’ Council, congratulated the recipients in announcing the team at a reception hosted by the sponsors Danske Bank at Malone House.

“This team has players from twelve different schools, right across the different grades of football at senior level. The lads have gone through a tough selection process and can be proud of their selection in such an elite team.”

Aisling Press, District Manager at Danske Bank, added her congratulations.

“The Ulster Colleges’ All-Stars is an outstanding initiative and something that we at Danske Bank are extremely proud to be part of. The commitment and dedication required to even be nominated for an All-Star award is immense and I would like to congratulate all of the players who were selected to participate in the trials, as well as the 15 outstanding players we are honouring here today.”

The football and hurling teams will be honoured at a reception after the completion of the MacRory and MacLarnon competitions in late March.

2016-7 Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Football All Stars

1. Brendan Gallen (Omagh CBS)

2. James McAlinden (St Ronan’s College, Lurgan)

3. Barry McCambridge (St Ronan’s College, Lurgan)

4. Conor McCluskey (St Mary’s Grammar School, Magherafelt)

5. Daniel Guinness (OLASP Knock)

6. Padraig McGrogan (St Pius X College, Magherafelt)

7. Frank Connolly (Our Lady’s Secondary School, Castleblaney)

8. Josh Connery (OLASP Knock)

9. Callum Brown (St Mary’s College, Limavady)

10. Peadar Morgan (Abbey Vocational School, Donegal)

11. Tomás Carney (Holy Trinity College, Cookstown)

12. Niall O’Donnell (St Eunan’s College, Letterkenny)

13. James Wilson (Our Lady’s Secondary School, Castleblaney)

14. Patrick Quigg (St Patrick’s College, Maghera)

15. Caolan Devlin (St Pius X College, Magherafelt)

Schools’ Football All-stars 1988 - 2017

St Patrick’s, Maghera 52

Abbey CBS, Newry 47

St Patrick’s, Armagh 42

St Michael’s, Enniskillen 40

St Colman’s, Newry 38

Omagh CBS 38

St Patrick’s, Dungannon 25

St MacCartan’s, Monaghan 20

St Mary’s, Magherafelt 23

St Patrick’s, Downpatrick 12

St Michael’s, Lurgan / St Ronan’s Lurgan 10

St Louis, Kilkeel 9

Our Lady’s, Castleblaney 9

St Eunan’s, Letterkenny 8

St Patrick’s, Keady 8

St Mary’s CBS, Belfast 7

Patrician High, Carrickmacross 6

St Columb’s, Derry 6

St Patrick’s, Cavan 6

St Paul’s Bessbrook 6

Our Lady & St Patrick’s, Knock 6

St Pius X, Magherafelt 5

Holy Trinity Cookstown 4

De La Salle Ballyshannon 3

La Salle, Belfast 2

Loreto, Coleraine 2

Rathmore Grammar, Belfast 2

St Louis, Ballymena 2

St Ciaran’s Ballygawley 2

Aquinas Grammar Belfast 1

Holy Cross Strabane 1

Pobalscoil, Falcarragh 1

St Joseph’s Donaghmore 1

St MacNissi’s, Garron Tower 1

St Malachy’s, Belfast 1

St Columban’s, Kilkeel 1

Abbey Vocational, Donegal 1

St Mary’s, Limavady 1

38 SCHOOLS

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