Four players pick up successive schools' hurling Allstar awards
THERE were four players from last year’s Ulster Schools’ Allstar hurling team picking up a second award with the announcement of the 2017/8 team at a reception in Riddell Hall, Belfast hosted by sponsors Danske Bank. All four are named in attack.
Aquinas Grammar student Ronan Costello from the Bredagh club is the only one of the four selected in the same position two years running, at right corner-forward, while Ed McQuillan from St Killian’s, Garron Tower moves from midfield last year to left corner-forward.
Ryan McGarry, from St Louis’, Ballymena, a holder of a Mageean Cup medal from 2015, moves from wing half-back to wing-forward and Paul Green from wing half-forward to full-forward.
Green was again the star man as St Patrick’s, Keady took their second successive Danske Bank Casement Cup title last month with a narrow victory over St Mary’s, Magherafelt in the final.
However, the big surprise is the fact that St Patrick’s, Maghera only took one place on the team – Tiernan Walsh at centre half-back. Maghera defeated An Dún 1-19 to 2-12 in the Danske Bank Mageean Cup final just prior to Halloween.
It is understood that a number of the team in that final could not attend the trials last month because of club and school commitments in both hurling and football.
Still, Walsh’s inclusion continues a strong presence of Maghera players in selections over the last 31 years.
At least one Maghera player has now been included in 29 of the 31 Allstar hurling teams, while St Mary’s CBGS, Belfast have now made it into 26 teams with the selection of Sean Wilson and Dominic McEnhill, Mageean Cup winners last season.
Keady, winners of the Danske Bank Casement Cup, have three players in the line-up with double Allstar Paul Breen joined by corner-backs Jim Shortt and Stephen McKearney. It is the school’s best ever return in a single selection.
Ryan McGarry is also joined in the team by two other St Louis’ players, Aaron Crawford and Liam McCann, and all three are members of the Dunloy minor side that put together back-to-back Antrim titles this year and also won the Saffron U21 title. McCann was the club minor captain and, like McGarry and Crawford, is involved with St Louis’ in the MacLarnon Cup.
Three members of An Dún side that lost the Mageean Cup final have gained favour with the selectors.
They are double Allstar winner Ronan Costello, goalie Conor McLornan and forward Tim Prenter from St Patrick’s, Downpatrick and Ballygalget.
That means that with three from Keady and three from An Dún there are just eight places left in the team for Antrim players, a relatively low return compared to recent selections.
Those eight come from four schools; St Louis, Ballymena have three while there are two each for the teams that played in last season’s Mageean final, St Mary’s CBGS, Belfast and St Killian’s, Garron Tower, along with Niall McCormack from Cross and Passion, Ballycastle.
They have all represented Antrim at either U17 or minor level, winning Ulster titles and the inaugural All-Ireland Celtic Challenge.
Aisling Press, head of branch banking at Danske Bank, congratulated the 2017/18 Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Allstars hurling recipients at the reception in Riddell Hall yesterday.
“The Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Allstars provides an important opportunity for us to celebrate the dedication and commitment of our youth players, while also recognising their families, schools and clubs who have supported and encouraged them along the way,” she said.
“To be selected for the Ulster Schools’ Allstars trials is a fantastic achievement in itself, so I would like to congratulate all those players who were recognised as part of this group, as well as the 15 outstanding hurlers here today.”
Jimmy Smyth, chairman of Ulster Schools’ GAA, also congratulated the recipients.
“To achieve an Ulster Schools’ Allstar award is to rightly earn a place in hurling’s Hall of Fame,” he said.
“These awards recognise and reward these talented players’ prowess, commitment and endeavour on the hurling field.”
The hurling awards will be officially presented at a gala banquet at the end of March 2018, while the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Football Allstars will be announced later today.
HURLING ALLSTAR AWARD WINNERS
1: Conor McLornan (Our Lady’s & St Patrick’s, Knock)
2: Jim Shortt (St Patrick’s, Keady)
3: Aaron Crawford (St Louis, Ballymena)
4: Stephen McKearney (St Patrick’s, Keady)
5: Niall McCormack (Cross & Passion, Ballycastle)
6: Tiarnan Walsh (St Patrick’s, Maghera)
7: Sean Wilson (St Mary’s CBGS, Belfast)
8: Liam McCann (St Louis’, Ballymena)
9: Dominic McEnhill (St Mary’s CBGS, Belfast)
10: Francis McCurry (St Killian’s, Garron Tower)
11: Tim Prenter (St Patrick’s, Downpatrick)
12: Ryan McGarry (St Louis’, Ballymena)
13: Ronan Costello (Aquinas Grammar, Belfast)
14: Paul Green (St Patrick’s, Keady)
15: Ed McQuillan (St Killian’s, Garron Tower)