Hurling and camogie

Who's top of the 2020 class in GAA schools' football and hurling?

Michael Conroy of St Patrick’s Armagh and Conall Devlin of St Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon receiving their 2019 Football and Hurler Danske Bank/ Irish News Ulster Schools Player of the Year Awards from Oonagh Murtagh (Danske Bank) and John Brolly (The Irish News)
The Irish News

Despite the Danske Bank Ulster Schools' MacRory and MacLarnon Cup finals being cancelled this year, the standard in the earlier rounds, right from October through to February, was outstanding.

Looking back through the reports we carried on the Player of the Month awards, the depth of talent shines through and I'm sure it will go on to light up their respective clubs and counties in the years ahead (see full Monthly Award winners summaries on

So, to highlight and reward the talent displayed through the season, Danske Bank and The Irish News have teamed up to give you the chance to name one of those players in both football and hurling, the 2020 Player of The Year.

It's time to cast your vote. Voting is open to the public from today at

Everyone who votes is in with a chance to win one of five £50 O’Neills vouchers.

The hurling and football Player of the Year will be revealed on Irish News Sport social media @irishnewssport on Thursday June 25.

And there is some outstanding talent to choose from as the poster below clearly shows.

Christopher Mulligan hit the ground running picking up the Footballer of the Month award for October.

The centre-forward turned in two remarkable performances for St Catherine’s Killybegs during their group games in the Danske Bank Pat King Cup.

Fast forward to February and the Hurler of the Month is Tom McGrattan from St Patrick’s, Downpatrick.

The centre-forward had three outings with the Red High in the Foresters’ Cup during February and he scored heavily in all three, recording an amazing 2-25 in total.

That's just an example of the standard and that is reflected in all the 10 monthly award winners

Oonagh Murtagh, head of South Business Centre at Danske Bank said: “It’s been a strange year for everyone, and especially for our young sporting stars. With the usual St Patrick’s Day finals in rugby, GAA and football all cancelled this year, and many of the Ulster Schools GAA tournaments cancelled, we’re sure the young players are missing training and competing with their friends.

“I’m so pleased that the Danske Bank Irish News Player of the Year competition is going ahead online. There are so many talented players, and it’s always a delight to read about the Players of the Month in football and hurling.

''This year has been no different, and it’s been great to see such a spread of young sportspeople across Ulster and of all different levels of the game. Each one of those players is deserving of the Player of the Year title.

“But it’s down to you to choose who wins. We’re asking you - the devoted coaches, the family supporters, the wider club communities, the friends, and everyone who helps the players prepare for their matches – to decide who will win the overall Player of the Year for 2020. Make your vote online, and share far and wide to recognise your players.”

Irish News marketing manager, John Brolly said: “The Irish News is always delighted to be working in partnership with Danske Bank and Ulster Schools.

''This initiative profiles the wide range of skilful players and role models there are and also gives school friends, family and club members the opportunity to cast their vote for the overall Player of the Year.

‘It is a great opportunity to celebrate success and encourage social engagement as we need to bear in mind that pupils have shown great resilience being away from their school environment since early March.''

Danske Bank Footballer and Hurling Monthly Award Winners 2019/2020


Calum McIlwaine is the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Hurler for the month of October.

Calum had three games in the MacNamee Cup during the month and he turned in Player of the match performances in all three for St Killian’s College Garron Tower.

The diminutive midfield dynamo had played centre half forward in winning the 2018 MacNamee title and he captained this year’s squad which narrowly lost the final to neighbours Cross and Passion Ballycastle.

He has excellent leadership qualities and a huge work rate that sees him cover every blade of grass, sweeping balls in the backline, fielding poc outs, winning breaking ball and having the engine to drive forward to pick off scores as well. The Oisin’s club player scored 1-8 in the three games during October and almost single-handedly kept St Killian’s in with a chance of winning the final.


Christopher Mulligan is the Danske Bank Footballer of the month for October.

The centre-forward turned in two remarkable performances for St Catherine’s Killybegs during their group games in the Danske Bank Pat King Cup.

Against Coláiste na Carraige Christopher, who plays with the local Killybegs club, scored 1-6 and backed it up with another great performance against Magh Ene College in which he posted 1-5. In addition to his scoring prowess he showed both vision and leadership in his distribution of ball to the rest of his team.

As St Catherine’s go forward into the knock-out stages, Christopher Mulligan is a player that everyone is going to find out a lot more about.


Enda óg McGarry is the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Hurler for the month of November.

IT has been a busy but successful autumn for the Cross and Passion Ballycastle Sixth Former.

In October he helped his club Loughgiel Shamrocks to the Antrim minor title and then followed it up with the club’s first ever Ulster minor club title.

Meanwhile he was a rock at the heart of the Cross and Passion defence as they progressed through the Danske Bank Mageean Cup competition.

At full-back he was one of the heroes in their 3-16 to 3-11 semi-final win over neighbours St Killian’s College Garron Tower, but for the final the school management team of Joe Cassidy and Oran Kearney switched Enda óg to half-back where he plays most of his club hurling.

Time and again he came bursting out of defence in the final against St Mary’s to set up attacks and he capped a brilliant individual performance by scoring the last point in CPC’s 3-18 to 1-10 victory.


A personal tally of three goals and five points was not enough to win a Danske Bank Corn na nÓg title for Omagh CBS but it has gained Charlie Donnelly nominations for the Danske Bank Footballer of the Month for November.

The Trillick club player hit a rich vein of scoring form for his school team during the knockout stages of the Corn na nÓg, scoring two goals and a point in the quarter-final against St Michael’s Enniskillen.

He followed that up with a goal and two in the semi-final win over St Macartan’s, but he managed to top all previous performances with his 3-5 against St Patrick’s Maghera in the final.

The captain of Omagh CBS can and has played in a number of positions for the team.

Strong in possession, Charlie is very skilful and has good vision and manages to bring his team-mates into play with his clever passing.

The Trillick teenager will surely make his mark at inter-county level over the next few years.

The Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Player of the Month recognises outstanding personal contributions to team performance over the course of a month and the players must be nominated by the coach of the opposing team.

Both Enda óg and Charlie earned their nominations through their hard work during pressure games with Enda savouring the ultimate success as a school’s hurler while Charlie lost his final, he was a winner of both Corn na nÓg and Brock Cup medals last year and will surely have more great days out with Omagh CBS.


THE Danske Bank footballer for December is Ruairí Canavan who had a very busy but successful month representing St Ciarán’s Ballygawley.

The Errigal Ciaran club player was the key element as St Ciarán’s netted the Danske Bank Arthurs’ Cup last month. He scored 1-8 in the 1-13 to 2-7 semi-final win over St Columb’s Derry and then 0-6 as the Ballygawley school edged out St Colm’s Draperstown in the final.

The semi-final goal four minutes into the second half was exquisite; Ruairí took on two defenders in the left corner and then crashed the ball to the roof of the net, halving the six points’ gap that separated the teams at the break and giving his team the confidence to push on and win the tie.

Ruairí also had time to fit in a game with the school’s under 19 team as well as come through a trial to claim a Queen’s Future Star award. He also tied down his place on the Tyrone minor squad during last month.

Of course the Canavan name is well known in Tyrone GAA. All-Ireland winning captain Peter is Ruairí’s father while his brother Darragh made the Tyrone senior panel last year.


The Danske Bank Hurler of the Month dfor December is Cathal Wilson from Scoil Mhuire Buncrana.

Cathal is recognised less for his on-field performances than his commitment to take every opportunity he gets to become a better hurler and measure himself against the best.

Cathal’s participation in the preliminary All-star trial was less than ordinary. He got a lift from Buncrana into Derry where he took the bus to Belfast and then a taxi to the Dub. And afterwards the return journey was made in the same way.

Cathal, who plays for the local Buncrana club, successfully made it into the final trial when he went through the same process except that this was an evening trial at the Dub and he left the Europa Bus Terminal on the Goldliner coach for Derry at 11pm.

This commitment left a very deep impression on the coaches who attended the trials.

The Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Player of the Month award recognises outstanding personal achievement and commitment to football and hurling during the month and the players must be nominated by the coach of the opposing team.

Ruairí’s on-field achievements have very much marked him out as a player about whom we will hear a lot more, while Cathal’s passion for hurling will ensure that he achieves his potential regardless of the obstacles that might be put in his way.


THE Danske Bank footballer for January is Emmett Rodgers from Our Lady’s and St Patrick’s Knock.

The Bredagh player was involved in three key games in January and delivered the goods in each. With his Treanor Cup team he scored seven points against St Paul’s Bessbrook and followed it up with four goals and seven points against St Mary’s Belfast.

Although Emmett is still a student in Year 11, he came on as a substitute for the school’s senior team in their Danske Bank Irish News Cup semi-final against Loreto College Milford and scored a point with his first possession.


The Danske Bank Hurler of the Month for January is Daire McMullan from St Louis Ballymena.

Daire, already making a reputation at under-age level for Antrim, secured a place on the first ever Queen’s Soaring Stars’ hurling team just before Christmas and continued that good form through to the opening game in the Danske Bank Foresters’ Cup.

The Dunloy Cúchulainn’s player had an outstanding game in the 2-10 to 0-13 defeat by holders Cross and Passion Ballycastle in Cloughmills.

The Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Player of the Month award recognises outstanding personal achievement and commitment to football and hurling during the month and the players must be nominated by the coach of the opposing teams.

Emmett’s scoring exploits at his own age-group and also in his debut for the school senior team marks him out as a special talent, while there is little doubt that Daire is set to continue a strong family tradition that has seen more than half a dozen of his McMullan aunts and uncles swing the camán for Antrim.


THE Danske Bank footballer for February is Iarlaith.Donaghy who is the captain of the St Pius X Magherafelt team that has reached their first Danske Bank MacLarnon Cup final in 11 years.

The Lissan club player had two games during February, the quarter- and semi-final ties and he turned in Player of the Match performances from centre-half back in both.

Against St Columb’s Derry and Loreto College Milford he organised his defence brilliantly and drove forward to set up scores for the attack, even taking a point against St Columb’s.

Iarlaith has been in MacLarnon Cup panels for St Pius X for four years now and he regularly takes the warm-ups at training sessions allowing the mentors time to set up their drills.


The Danske Bank Hurler of the Month for February is Tom McGrattan from St Patrick’s Downpatrick.

Tom had three outings with the Red High in the Foresters’ Cup during February and he scored heavily in all three.

Against St Louis Ballymena, he finished on the losing team but still landed 0-7. A week later, St Patrick’s caused a shock by defeating four in a row chasing Cross and Passion Ballycastle and the centre-forward drove the victory with 1-10. The team’s journey in the competition ended with a narrow defeat to St Mary’s CBGS Belfast, but again the Portaferry ace top-scored with 1-8.

This is the first time in over two decades that the Red High has competed in A grade hurling and the scoring exploits of Tom McGrattan has kept them competitive. Of course he doesn’t take it off the grass as his father Gerard is Down’s only hurling All-star.

The Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Player of the Month award recognises outstanding personal achievement and commitment to football and hurling during the month and the players must be nominated by the coach of the opposing teams.

Both Iarlaith and Tom show excellent leadership to their team-mates and are key reasons why their respective teams have made so much progress as they moved through the age-groups. Both have a bright future opening up for them at inter-county level.




Christopher Mulligan (St Catherine’s, Killybegs)

Club: Killybegs GAC


Calum McIlwaine (St Killian’s College, Garron Tower)

Club: Oisin CLG, Glenariffe



Enda óg McGarry (Cross and Passion, Ballycastle)

Club: Loughgiel Shamrocks GAC


Charlie Donnelly (Omagh CBS)

Club: St. Macartan's GAC



Ruairí Canavan (St Ciarán’s, Ballygawley)

Club: Errigal Ciarán GAC


Cathal Wilson (Scoil Mhuire, Buncrana)

Club: Buncrana GAC



Emmett Rodgers (Our Lady’s and St Patrick’s, Knock)

Club: Bredagh GAC


Daire McMullan (St Louis, Ballymena)

Club: Dunloy Cú Chulainn's



Iarlaith Donaghy (St Pius X, Magherafelt)

Club: St Michael's GAC


Tom McGrattan (St Patrick’s, Downpatrick)

Club: St Patrick’s GAC, Portaferry

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Hurling and camogie