Cargin dominate the selection for Antrim SFC Allstars 2016
Cargin retained their Northern Switchgear Antrim SFC title in style, recording their first final win over old rivals St Gall’s. John Martin rewards the Toome side with nine spots in his Allstar 15...
1. CHRIS KERR
The county shot-stopper was beaten just once during this year’s championship - by an absolute rasper from Tomás McCann in the final. He also saved superbly from Ryan McKernan minutes later.
His kick-outs were accurate and intelligent throughout and, against a defensive Lámh Dhearg unit in the semi-final, they needed to be.
2. KEVIN O’BOYLE
Due to an injury he picked up in the drawn game against Creggan, O’Boyle didn’t play a full role in Cargin’s successful championship run, but it’s impossible not to include him in the team.
His driving run from corner-back to set up the only goal in the final sums him up as a player - great pace, energy and vision.
3. RICHARD JOHNSTON
Creggan fought back from seven points down to snatch a draw against the eventual champions in the quarter-final and, while there’s a school of thought that suggests Cargin took their foot off the pedal, the comeback was due in no small part to Creggan’s defence getting to grips with their neighbours’ forward line.
Johnston played his part in a solid Creggan back-line.
4. JAMES LAVERTY
Laverty doesn’t spend too much time around the full-back line, but he is a superb reader of the game who, as the cliché says, covers every blade of grass on the pitch.
He is a vital cog in the Cargin defensive machine. He is a great player for turning defence into attack.
5. RONAN DEVLIN
Devlin is all you want in a half-back. He can win clean ball, dirty ball, breaking ball, his distribution is excellent and he can drive forward and get a score when required.
A solid player throughout Cargin’s four-game run to the title.
6. KEVIN NIBLOCK
Compared to some of their recent championship campaigns, the 2016 version was a tough journey for St Galls. They struggled, at times, to produce the quick, incisive play that has characterised the Milltown men’s dominance in Antrim.
Niblock always make a contribution, whether close to the posts or dropping in behind the midfield.
7. BRENDAN McCOMB
The Hannahstown club were taken to a replay by O’Donovan Rossa before falling to St Gall's in the semi-final. McComb led the way from the half-back line in the replay win over Rossa, scoring three points from play to kickstart the Lámh Dhearg fightback.
8. MICHAEL McCANN
McCann could be represented in a number of positions, but his contribution in the middle-third of the park in the replay against Creggan, from where he dominated the game, hands him the number eight jersey.
His decision-making and distribution is always top notch.
9. JOHN CARRON
A superb ball winner, Carron keeps things simple in the middle of the park. He seldom takes the wrong option and will rarely come out on the wrong side of a 50-50 ball.
While his fielding of the ball can be spectacular, it is for his more workmanlike execution of the skills of blocking, tackling and tracking back that he earns his place in the 2016 Allstar selection.
10. CIARAN CLOSE
The 34-year-old has been superb throughout the 2016 championship. He finished as the championship’s top scorer on 2-19, an average of six points per game.
He was accurate from both frees and play and tormented every defence he faced this season. His contribution is more than just raising flags - his intelligence on the ball and reading of the game means he has to be watched at all times by the opposition.
11. CJ McGOURTY
McGourty returned from his travels in time to help the St Gall's championship cause in the semi-final and final. He was introduced for the second-half of both games and contributed 0-4 in each game.
He was the only player to raise a flag for St Gall's in the second-half of the final, including three great scores from play. A class act.
12. PAUL McCANN
The half-forward line was a difficult one to choose, with a number of impressive performances from the likes of Creggan’s Mark Dougan and Lámh Dhearg’s Ryan Murray, but it is Cargin’s Paul McCann who completes the line-up.
McCann isn’t a forward who will top the scoring charts, but he seldom has a poor game and provides an unselfish link in the transition from defence to attack.
And like any good forward, he knows where the posts are.
13. TOMÁS McCANN
McCann finished second in the scoring charts on 2-15, just four behind his team mate Ciaran Close. He scored a superb goal in the final, finishing past Chris Kerr in style just moments after Michael Pollock had chosen to take his point from a similar position at the other end of the pitch.
That clinical streak was evident in McCann throughout the campaign. He has a tremendous turn of pace and can also find the posts from distance.
14. BRIAN NEESON
‘Bam’ simply has to get a place on the 2016 Allstar team for his stellar performance over a game and-a-half, in which he scored 0-14 for the Johnnies.
He came off the bench shortly before the break against Ballymena to contribute three points and, on a day when his team were second best throughout the park, added 0-11 against Cargin, 0-6 from play.
15. MICHAEL MAGILL
Having returned to the starting 15 after a leg injury, Magill was keen to make an impression on the championship. Though he didn’t get on the scoresheet against Creggan, he played a key part in a number of scores and, when the chances came against St John's in the semi-final, the former dual county star duly showed what he can do, slotting over five points from play.
A superb ball-winner in any forward line.