GAA Football

2018 Antrim Club Allstars revealed

Creggan reached their first final in 41 years but lost out by one point to Cargin, who got there thanks to an epic semi-final encounter when the Toome men edged out St Gall's. Anthony Gunning picks his top 15 performers from the Antrim championship

Cargin's Tony Scullion puts Creggan's David McGuckin under pressure in the Antrim Club Football Championship final at Ahoghill. Picture by Seamus Loughran.
Anthony Gunning

1: Oisin Kerr (Creggan)

The Creggan shot-stopper had a fine campaign, conceding just one goal throughout his team's run to the final.

That came in the semi-final against St John's and there was little he could do about it in a goalmouth scramble.

Kerr's kickouts were also generally solid in the campaign as he was able to find his own players more often than not. A very good campaign for the Creggan number one who contributed well for his team and helped them get to this year's final.

2: Tony Scullion (Cargin)

The evergreen Scullion may play at wing-back rather than in the corner, but we had to find a place for him in this team. A model of consistency yet again, Scullion helped drive his team forward in games, even chipping in with a point in their thrilling semi-final win over St Gall's. The veteran continues be part of the heartbeat of his team and had a good game in the final, helping link defence and attack and was always keen to get on the ball.

3: Ricky Johnston (Creggan)

One man who was unlucky to be on the losing side in this year's final, Johnston had a fine game at full-back and indeed, consistently performed throughout Creggan's run. His reading of the game saw him make many fine intercepts and was alert to any danger throughout, helping snuff out St John's in the semi-final to help his side to their first final in 41 years. Johnston looked back to his best in this campaign and is an obvious choice.

4: James Laverty (Cargin)

Laverty was another consistent performer throughout the campaign, enjoying some keen battles throughout as he helped lay the foundations for Cargin's title success. Solid and tenacious in the tackle as always, Laverty went about his business in the usual no-nonsense fashion as his experience and positional sense helped his side build out from the back, winning turnovers and sending the Erin's Own men onto the front foot in their four games.

5: Patrick McBride (St John's)

While he may technically be a wing-forward, McBride's game has always been breaking at pace from deep and again, he did this to aplomb for St John's as they reached the last four. When they were being stifled somewhat early on in their quarter-final against St Teresa's, McBride's injection of pace helped put opposition defenders onto the back foot and was one of his team's better performers in their semi-final defeat, landing scores in each game from play and frees.

6: Justin Crozier (Cargin)

Another of the experienced heads on the Cargin team, Crozier was again to have a fine season, anchoring the Erin's Own defence. His ability to read the play and make some smart interceptions was a feature as they overcame last year's winners, Lamh Dhearg in the quarter-final replay. He was able to hold things together for his team when faced with challenges this season and looked every bit the player who starred for the county in the past.

7: Ruairi McCann (Creggan)

A star of the Creggan team in this campaign, the county player was always willing to get forward and join the attack, netting a goal in the quarter-final win over Ahoghill and then in the semi-final against St John's, landed two excellent points from placed balls. Yet he was also defensively sound, keeping close tabs on the opposition and helped stifle the Johnnies in that last four encounter, while he also had a fine game in the final.

8: Matthew Fitzpatrick (St John's)

In what was a disappointing campaign for last year's beaten finalists, Fitzpatrick was one of their stand-outs. Operating at centre field, he was always able to get his hands on the ball and either play the intelligent pass or else make clever runs. These allowed him to plunder four points in the quarter-final and two in the semi-final. Certainly, he couldn't have done much more to help his team's cause and enhanced his reputation this year.

9: Conor McCann (Creggan)

The epitome of consistency, McCann was effective in each game he played. In the final, he was in the wars several times and this just highlighted his willingness to roll up the sleeves and do the hard work. His performance in the semi-final against St John's in the semi-final was excellent and helped his side lay the foundations for victory by their ability to control the middle third. Also popped up for a score in the final and was one of his team's better performers.

10: Kevin Niblock (St Gall's)

The St Gall's captain has been one of the best footballers in Antrim over the last decade and judging by this season, he still is. Against Portglenone in the last eight, Niblock's penetrating runs helped open the gaps for others to exploit, while he also bagged 1-1 in that game. His performance in the semi-final was better again, finding the net and was in contention for the man-of-the-match award. A class act throughout once again.

11: Michael McCann (Cargin)

Described by his manager, Damien Cassidy as a "Rolls Royce" after their victory in the final, McCann was in excellent form. He kicked what turned out to be the winning score in the final, but his all-round play in that game and those before made him one of the first names on this list despite blotting his copybook just a tad when picking up a second yellow in the replay win over Lamh Dhearg. The ability to control the tempo of the game, he plays the 'quarterback' role to absolute perfection.

12: Ciaran Bradley (Cargin)

One of the new kids on the block for Cargin, Bradley was most certainly in the running for man-of-the-match in the final as he showed experience beyond his years with a fine display. Was good for two points in the decider and had a hand in Michael McCann's winner, it was easy to see why his manager had so much faith in him as he had a fantastic season for Erin's Own, getting on the scoresheet in each game.

13: Mickey Pollock (St Gall's)

S Galls Mickey Pollock. Picture by Seamus Loughran

Simply unplayable in the quarter-final against Portglenone, Pollock was to plunder 2-6 in that game and while he was a little bit quiet against Cargin in the semi-final, he still came away with 1-2 to confirm his credentials as a major attacking force. The former county player can make it look so effortless and much of the attacking play goes through his hands where he can find a teammate and also finish with aplomb when the opportunities arise.

14: Michael Magill (Cargin)

Made a bright start to the final when kicking the first score after 75 seconds and while he may have had a quiet game after, was far from anonymous earlier in the campaign. Hit three points in the semi-final classic against St Gall's and set-up Jamie Gribbin's goal that breathed life into the Cargin challenge in that game, while in the drawn quarter-final, he was good for two points and has looked back to his best this season.

15: Tomás McCann (Cargin)

Responsible for perhaps the most iconic moment of this year's championship, McCann held his nerve with the last kick of the ball in the semi-final against St Gall's to blast a match-winning goal from a free. Also save his side's ski in the drawn quarter-final when landing a last-gasp equaliser and in the final, he produced one of the very few moments of brilliance with a remarkable point from away out on the right. A season to remember.

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