Danny Hughes' Ulster Allstars team
Ulster’s Championship interest ended at the weekend with Tyrone’s defeat by Kerry. The Red Hands and provincial champions Donegal make up two-thirds of the Irish News Ulster Allstars team selected by Danny Hughes...
SHAUN PATTON (DONEGAL)
TO be honest, there was nothing to separate Niall Morgan and Patton. However, in Ulster Championship terms, because Donegal blew Tyrone apart in their semi-final, it would be unfair not to acknowledge the influence of Patton in that game and his performance in helping the Tir Chonaill men secure another Anglo-Celt. Honourable mention to Niall Morgan who is sheer class too.
Club: St Eunan’s, Letterkenny
CONOR MOYNAGH (CAVAN)
THE Cavan man has been playing brilliantly for a couple of seasons now.
Moynagh being assigned man-marking duties on key opposition forwards has increasingly become a tactic employed by successive Cavan managers.
The Drumgoon clubman is also extremely comfortable on the ball and can shoot.
The days of Francis Bellew and his ilk going through a game without kicking a ball or taking a solo look to be over.
These are new times and you need a full armoury – epitomised by Moynagh.
Club: Eire Og, Drumgoon
RONAN McNAMEE (TYRONE)
ANOTHER consistent performer this year, you tend to look toward players further up the field to see this Tyrone team’s greatest influencers. However, any coach will tell you that the spine of your defence is the most important area of any team and, with McNamee, at full-back Tyrone need not worry here. McNamee has been a consistent performer for years now.
PADDY McGRATH (DONEGAL)
FOR me, it was a close call between Armagh’s Paul Hughes and Down’s Darren O’Hagan, but given McGrath’s consistency and indeed his ability to launch attacks from deep, as well as man-mark some of the opposition’s best forwards, McGrath gets my vote. With an Ulster title in 2019, McGrath’s injury and suspected cruciate knee injury is a massive blow to Donegal for next year’s defence.
RYAN McHUGH (DONEGAL)
The benefits of modern football and the way we see a modern footballer mean that the Ryan McHughs of this world are measured on their ability and not their size. McHugh is at the upper echelons in terms of ability and, alongside Michael Murphy, is a key influencer of Donegal. The best compliment I can pay him this year is that when Mayo man-marked him and negated his influence on their Super 8s game, Donegal lost.
He is the difference.
EOGHAN ‘BAN’ GALLAGHER (DONEGAL)
IT will be no surprise that Gallagher makes another Allstar team.
I know the heights he reached prior to getting a major injury last year might not be there yet, but his absence makes Donegal a lesser team, of that there is no doubt.
He has a huge part to play in Donegal’s future and, as an all-action half-back, his ability to break tackles and entire lines of defence make him the definition of the modern half-back in Gaelic football.
AIDAN FORKER (ARMAGH)
MAN-MARKER and scorer of great points, Forker deserves recognition for his contribution to Armagh’s resurgence this year. Has been assigned to man-mark key opposition players also and has done a fine job on every occasion.
Has a polished left-foot and in 2019 and found himself in a position of facing the play at half-back, one in which he is much more comfortable. Honourable mention goes to Caolan Mooney who had his best season for Down.
Club: Sean McDermott’s, Maghery
JARLATH ÓG BURNS (ARMAGH)
TOO early to say that he has the potential to be better than his father? I can be sure in saying that he has much better ‘feet’ and a better passing repertoire that Jarlath senior.
For such a young man, so early in his inter-county career, he has shown experience and a class well beyond any expectations.
A future captain and leader, I can easily see him lifting silverware in the near future. Fantastic season.
Club: Silverbridge Harps
GEAROID McKIERNAN (CAVAN)
IF anyone is wondering how Cavan reached an Ulster final in 2019, look no further for the answer than McKiernan. Catching, driving forward and shooting, McKiernan has it all.
Buoyed by Mickey Graham’s first year in management, McKiernan never shirked or went missing in any Cavan game and, while it disappointingly ended with defeat to Tyrone, Gearoid can be proud of his performances.
Honourable mention goes to Hugh McFadden who was a colossus for Donegal.
Club: St Mary’s, Swanlinbar
JAMIE BRENNAN (DONEGAL)
DESERVES his place on the back of an excellent Ulster Championship campaign.
The challenge for him will be to return to the level of consistency expected by his pals, Murphy and McHugh, outside of the Ulster Championship.
Again, a lot is expected now from our GAA public – near perfection at times. Brennan is still young and developing and no doubt has a bright future in the green and gold.
Club: Realt na Mara, Bundoran
MARTIN REILLY (CAVAN)
THE centre-half forward position has been one of the most difficult to choose. Peter Harte has had a good campaign, but Tyrone were knocked out earlier than expected in Ulster.
Stefan Campbell was superb in so many games, ironically only after coming on as a substitute against Down and Cavan. Reilly gets it given his influence in helping to secure an Ulster final place in 2019 for Cavan.
MATTIE DONNELLY (TYRONE)
I DON’T think that any Irish News Allstar team would be complete with Mattie.
Has shown a level of consistency in recent years, which has made him, undoubtedly, one of the best players in the country.
He has strength, pace and accuracy from the foot which has the ability to transform how Tyrone play on any given day.
Can play any position in the field, which sometimes goes against him and his natural instinct as a player.
Club: St Macartan’s, Trillick
RIAN O’NEILL (ARMAGH)
WAS the difference between the teams when Armagh played Down.In a few seasons he has established himself as Armagh’s key forward. When he plays to his maximum potential, Armagh win the game.
With his athleticism and ability to score, O’Neill is again one of the few players able to influence a result. To win any silverware Armagh will need him and his younger brother Oisin alongside Jamie Clarke in a future full-forward line.
Club: Crossmaglen Rangers
CATHAL McSHANE (TYRONE)
IN one season McShane has made himself a household name.
He has benefitted most of all from a change in Tyrone tactics mid-League.
Had it not been for that change, who knows where Cathal would be playing?
And that is the frustration for many Tyrone fans. Are there more McShanes out there in Tyrone football left undiscovered?
Brilliant season and deserving of my Ulster player of the year.
Club: Owen Roe O’Neill’s, Leckpatrick
MICHAEL MURPHY (DONEGAL)
EVEN when Murphy has a bad game (by his own very high standards), it will still be much better than 99 per cent of everyone’s else’s best game.
One of the greatest players of his generation, 2019 returned a further Anglo-Celt Cup with the Glenswilly man finding that he is Donegal’s most successful captain. What a player.
We should appreciate his greatness while it lasts.
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