GAA Football

Magherafelt, Glen, and Banagher to the 'four' in Derry club Allstars

Twelve Allstar awards are evenly split between Derry champions Magherafelt, runners-up Glen and Banagher, the team beaten at the semi-final stage by the Rossas. Slaughtneil and Ballinderry are also represented in the 15 men chosen by Cahair O'Kane...

Magherafelt's Conor Kearns and Ciaran McFaul of Glen both make our Derry Club football Allstars select.
Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Cahair O'Kane

Derry team of the football championship

1. Darryl McDermott (Banagher)

HE may have worn the number one for Derry hurlers for a decade and more, but there’s always been a sense that McDermott was every bit as good a football goalkeeper. This year he proved it to any doubters. The ability to float his kickouts out wide was a huge factor in Banagher’s run to a semi-final. Made crucial saves against Swatragh and Bellaghy, and a brilliant stop from Conor McCluskey in their loss to Magherafelt.

2. Shane Murphy (Banagher)

THE all-action corner-back was arguably the outstanding player on the pitch in Banagher’s surprise opening round win over Bellaghy. His goal-line clearance in the win over Swatragh, getting back behind McDermott to claw the ball clear just as it was sailing into the net, was a pivotal moment in their season as well. His pace was a real torture for opposition forwards.

3. Brendan Rogers (Slaughtneil)

CONTINUES to stand out an absolute mile in Derry club football. His ability to cope with all-comers in a one-on-one battle is one of the great strengths on which this Slaughtneil team has been built. At his leisure against Newbridge, he gave a masterclass in the quarter-final win over Ballinderry, enjoying total supremacy against Ryan Bell. Held a fairly tight leash on Emmett Bradley and tried in vain to drive his side to victory.

4. Ryan Dougan (Glen)

HAVING been moved from pillar to post in the early part of his senior career, Dougan has made something of a home for himself on the edge of the square for Glen. His standout display came in the first half of the semi-final win over Slaughtneil, where he did marvellous work in keeping Shane McGuigan off his left foot, only to get slipped once and earn a black card. Did a good job in the first half of the final when sent out to wing-forward to pick up Conor Kearns, but was missed on the edge of the square.

5. Conor McCluskey (Magherafelt)

STARTED as he went on with a tight-marking display on Ciaran McGoldrick, keeping him to a single point as the Rossas dethroned county champions Eoghan Rua. Had a tougher day against Benny Heron but his job on Peter Hagan was crucial in the semi-final, notably the way he turned his man on the back foot. Completely shut Jack Doherty out of the final with a diligent display at centre-back.

6. Connor Nevin (Ballinderry)

ALTHOUGH Ballinderry only had two games this summer, Nevin was central in both of them. Scored two goals and had a hand in another in their opening round hammering of Dungiven, where he drove the team from centre-back. Designated to pick up Shane McGuigan in the quarter-final, he was often left one-on-one with the Slaughtneil dangerman but managed to keep him scoreless from play with a fine performance.

7. Conor Kearns (Magherafelt)

BY the time the rest of Derry had caught on that Conor Kearns had become the heartbeat of the Magherafelt challenge, it was almost too late to stop him. Always a forward in days gone by, Adrian Cush pulled him to wing-back and gave him a licence. From there, Kearns ran games. His ability not just to time a run, but to back it up with the power and pace he has, made him a serious weapon. Scored the early goal against Banagher and the way he stepped up in the second half of the final was key to their success.

8. Gavin O’Neill (Banagher)

OF all the players that Rory Gallagher would have seen this autumn in Derry, you’d do well to find one he’d have been more impressed by than Gavin O’Neill. Transformed physically over the past few years since he took into personal training as the day job, the Banagher man will surely play county football in 2020. His fielding and the power and pace with which he ran at the opposition saw him stand out a mile.

9. Ciaran McFaul (Glen)

THE beating heart of this Glen team. That statement would have applied long before this year, but it was perhaps never more relevant as they reached their first ever county final. Seemed to be at the heart of absolutely everything in the famous semi-final win over Slaughtneil. Had a big influence on the first round turnaround against The Loup too, but his best was when he completely ran the show against Lavey as he shook the demons of 2018.

10. Danny Tallon (Glen)

IT was a quiet start to the championship for the Glen captain but as it went on, he stood taller and taller. Found his feet during the second half of the win over Lavey and never looked back. Dominated his battle with Keelan Feeney in the semi-final as he rotated between inside and out, and when they needed inspiration in the final, it was largely Tallon who provided it with four points from play in a real display of leadership.

11. Shane Heavron (Magherafelt)

IF you could clone Shane Heavron’s left foot and sell it, you wouldn’t have to worry about packing sandwiches into the lunchbox on a Monday morning. His free-taking ability always kept Magherafelt ticking over in terms of scores, which was particularly valuable for a side that wasn’t free-scoring. He saved his best for last, turning in a superb display in the final, landing 0-5 (0-4f) to take his tally for the summer to 0-20 and earn the top scorer gong.

12. Christopher Bradley (Slaughtneil)

IN a summer when the Emmet’s never quite hit their heights, ‘Sammy’ stood out in their attack. Netted against Newbridge and then scored the goal that clinched the game against Ballinderry, having run a lot of their attacking game. Despite having a crucial goal chance cleared off the line late on against Glen, he was still the fulcrum of their frontline that afternoon. His form has earned him a recall to the county setup.

13. Niall Moore (Banagher)

“WHO are those two wee fliers?” was the question on the lips of those that hadn’t seen much of Banagher over the last 18 months, and were suddenly watching them come within a kick of a county final. The two fliers were the two Moore brothers, both of whom were outstanding as their lighting inside forward line. Niall just edges Tiarnan out of the team, having caused Bellaghy untold bother and then hit 1-2 in the win over Swatragh and then 1-1 in the semi-final against Magherafelt.

14. Alex Doherty (Glen)

WHILE not exactly an unknown in Oak Leaf circles, the impact that Alex Doherty has made this year has been ahead of its time. The 18-year-old is a pure bred finisher. Left foot, right foot, he’s the archetypal inside man. Very sharp over 15 yards, his stunning goal against Lavey was a real turning point in their whole campaign. Kicked four points from play in the county final in front of a crowd of almost 10,000, one of the outside of either foot. A special talent.

15. Emmett McGuckin (Magherafelt)

A CAMPAIGN with a big start and a big finish. Rather than take away his focus, McGuckin’s signing for Coleraine FC seems to have streamlined him. He looked lean and sharp throughout the championship, which was best emphasised by his man-of-the-match display in the decider. He kicked three points there and two in the semi-final, which marked an improvement on a facet of his game that wasn’t always his strongest. It all started with his climb at the far post to palm home the crucial goal against Eoghan Rua.

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GAA Football