GAA Football

Ulster football team of the weekend

Conor Poland caught the eye for Down against Westmeath on Saturday night.
Pic Philip Walsh


1. Niall Morgan (Tyrone)

The Edendork man scored a fine point from play against Mayo but his second such score earned a point in Roscommon – as did his provoking Ultan Harney to foolishly push him over at the end. Arguably partly at fault for the Rossies’ goal, but he had prevented one seconds earlier, and also converted two frees. Gets the nod over Down ‘keeper Rory Burns, who saved a penalty, and the usual high standards of Monaghan’s Rory Beggan.

2. Darren O’Hagan (Down)

A second consecutive appearance from the Mourne County captain, who held Westmeath’s dangerous Ger Egan scoreless from play. The Clonduff clubman was part of an intense defensive effort from Down, who had to play an hour’s worth of football with only 14 men.

3. Lee Cullen (Fermanagh)

The Belnaleck lad outshone his twin Che in Fermanagh’s opener against Cork and was again very solid at full-back, helping blot out the Kildare inside-forward line, which failed to score a single point from play – indeed the Lilywhites managed only 0-6 in all.

4. James McMahon (Fermanagh)

The Roslea man was another excellent element in Fermanagh’s defensive effort at home to Kildare. The visitors haven’t been scoring heavily so far but McMahon’s man-marking and physicality helped curtail them even further, as the Ernemen doubled their Division Two points tally.

5. Dara McVeety (Cavan)

Cavan have had little luck and gained no points so far in Division One but there’s no doubt that Dara McVeety is a top class performer. Impressive against Kerry the previous weekend, he caught the eye again against Mayo, scoring two points from play.

6. Ciaran Corrigan (Fermanagh)

Our correspondent hailed Corrigan as ‘man of the match’ against Kildare, praising him for an all-action, high-energy display that included ‘man-marking, tough tackling and turnovers, and forceful running’.

7. Kevin McKernan (Down)

The Mournemen’s rearguard seemed set to be stretched by the likes of Kieran Martin and Ger Egan but Down plugged plenty of gaps, even when down to 14 men, with the experienced Burren player’s work in the sweeper role key to shutting down the Westmeath attack.

8. Darren Hughes (Monaghan)

There weren’t too many names put forward by the Farneymen after their disappointing home defeat by a defensive Galway side but the versatile Scotstown man earned his second inclusion in this selection, providing two points from play.

9. Conor Poland (Down)

The Longstone man may not be a natural midfielder but, like his colleagues, he’s working extremely hard to win ball, and he covers so much ground himself. His older brother Mark also suggested he’d borrowed his shooting boots as he augmented the Down attack in their win over Westmeath.

10. Ryan McShane (Armagh)

Armagh looked down and out when they trailed Meath by nine points at the interval in Navan, but McShane was one of those in orange who stepped up and took the fight to the Royals after that. They fell short, but his industry and two points from play earn his inclusion.

11. Ruairi Scott (St Enda’s, Glengormley)

His goal was scruffy, not that he’ll care or ever forget it, but he also added two excellent points from play as St Enda’s kept battling away despite being outclassed by an excellent Kilcummin side. Peter Harte was decent for Tyrone, scoring 0-5, all from frees.

12. Oisin Gallen (Donegal)

A disappointing day for Donegal overall down in Tipperary, but a fine first senior start for the Ballybofey lad. He literally made his ‘mark’ in the opening minute and notched two points from play as well. A top class cross-country runner, his athleticism and accuracy add to Declan Bonner’s attacking options.

13. Shane McGuigan (Derry)

Honourable mentions for Rian O’Neill, who had a very good second half for Armagh in Navan, and Down’s Donal O’Hare, but credit to the Slaughtneil man for his contribution to Derry’s hard-fought victory away to Waterford, 1-3, including a couple of late scores. His clubmate Christopher ‘Sammy’ Bradley also did well.

14. Cathal McShane (Tyrone)

Illness ruled him out against Mayo and the Owen Roe’s clubman showed glimpses of what Tyrone had missed when he returned against Roscommon. The Red Hands didn’t supply him with enough ball but he looked a threat when he got possession and scored a crucial goal to spark their fightback.

15. Eoin Nagle (St Enda’s, Glengormley)

St Enda’s, Glengormley also had two contenders in the inside-forward line, with Odhran Eastwood scoring 0-7 (0-5 frees), including three points when it seemed that Kilcummin would completely over-run them. However, Eoin Nagle edges him, due to the superb goal he scored, and the problems he posed every time he got possession. A nod too, for another Antrim man, Ryan Murray, who scored 1-5, 1-3 from play, in an unfortunate loss in Leitrim.

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