Monaghan and Tyrone dominate the 2018 Irish News Allstars select

Monaghan goalkeeper Rory Beggan won his third Irish News Allstar Pic Seamus Loughran.
Monaghan goalkeeper Rory Beggan won his third Irish News Allstar Pic Seamus Loughran.


A THIRD Irish News Allstar for the Scotstown man who had possibly his best year yet for the Farney county. His kicking has always been exemplary but he seemed to take it to an even higher level this season as Monaghan reached their first All-Ireland semi-final since 1988. Scored 0-18 in the Championship.


HAD a few difficult outings last year – most notably in his two battles with Down’s Connaire Harrison – but was back to his brilliant best in 2018. Saved his best performance for the All-Ireland semi-final when he took on and cancelled out a number of Tyrone forwards. In the full-back line for the third time after winning awards in 2013 and 2014 previously.


PROVED himself a man-marking specialist with Mark Bradley, Lee Brennan, Paul Geaney and Ian Burke just some of the players who got little or no change out of him this year. Monaghan’s rather easy Qualifier path allowed him to sharpen his attacking game too and he was a prominent link-man as the Farney county toured the country.


THE teak-tough Coalisland defender just seemed to get better and better as the season progressed and is a very deserving winner. His second-half performance against Michael Murphy in Tyrone’s Super 8 clash with Donegal seemed to inspire him and he went on to put in brilliant showings against Monaghan and Dublin. Was probably Tyrone’s best player in their All-Ireland final defeat.


WHILE O’Connell has been producing the goods for years now, it seems that that he is only now getting the credit he deserves outside Ulster. His athletics background was evident as he ran up and down the wing all season and while he didn’t score in Monaghan’s two Ulster games, he did notch some spectacular scores from there on in and finished the season with 1-7 to his name.


MAN of the match in the Ulster final as Donegal killed Fermanagh’s dreams and produced a series of fantastic individual displays that belied his young age over the course of Donegal’s season. A nightmare for the opposition as his ability to get forward and support the attack never seems to stop him from carrying out his defensive duties.


MAKES the team for the fourth year in succession and the fifth time overall after a series of typically powerful displays. Didn’t have a huge influence in the All-Ireland final loss to Dublin but was to the fore as Tyrone battled their way there. Played in a slightly deeper role this season but still managed to regularly get on the scoreboard and did so in seven of their 10 games.


A SIXTH Irish News Allstar for Michael Murphy and richly deserved as he led the way for Donegal as they claimed the Anglo Celt title. Although he spent most of his time dictating play further out the field, he still averaged over five points per game. His display in the Super 8 win over Roscommon was one of the best produced by any player all summer.


TYRONE fans will be delighted to hear that Colm Cavanagh intends to return next season after another brilliant year. He is the vital cog in Mickey Harte’s system and was one of the chief reasons why they were back in the All-Ireland final. His tackle on Jack McCarron in the semi-final was the most high-profile of a series of brilliant blocks, tackles and interceptions over the season.


DONEGAL fans claim that Ryan McHugh is one of the best players in Ireland and after another scintillating year it’s very is hard to argue. His running game has always been exceptional but his vision moved to another level in the summer. Won countless frees in promising positions as teams realized that the only way to stop him was to pull him down.


SCORED the goal that took Tyrone to an All-Ireland final in what was the highlight of a fantastic year. His performances, especially in the Qualifier route, were superb as he took the game to the opponents with direct running, clever passing and an eye for a score. One of Tyrone’s most important players now.


THE quiet man of the Monaghan squad delivered a series of loud performances on the pitch as Malachy O’Rourke’s side made it all the way to the last four. McAnespie must be a dream player for O’Rourke – he just gets up and down the field all day long, making crucial interceptions at one end and finishing off scores at the other.


WITH the introduction of the Super 8s, it’s no surprise that Conor McManus, with 2-35, had his highest scoring year in the Championship, but that shouldn’t take away from a series of simply beautiful attacking displays where he seemed capable of putting the ball over from any angle. A remarkable player who now collects his fifth Irish News Allstar in six years.


ONLY Conor McManus scored more than Connor McAliskey in this year’s Championship as he answered critics who had said that Tyrone had no inside forwards. Whether it was from frees or open play, the Clonoe man seemed capable of racking up decent tallies in every game and he has never looked more confident.


ONCE again Fermanagh dared to dream before Donegal put paid to their hopes of a first-ever Ulster title, but there were still plenty of positives for the Erne county. Sean Quigley was undoubtedly one of those as he racked up nine points in Ulster and another three from play after coming off the bench for the last quarter against Kildare.