GAA Football

Some of Derry's finest over the last decade

Mark Lynch was one of the most outstanding players in the last decade for Derry Picture Margaret McLaughlin.
Odhran Crumley

From the years 2010 to 2020, a decade that sparkled with sporting occasions, Odhrán Crumley takes a look at five of Derry's most oustanding footballers...

THE decade began with high after high: an Ulster final appearance in 2011, Division Two title in 2012, a dream Division One campaign in 2014 beating Dublin, Mayo and Kerry before falling to the Dubs in the decider.

The years that followed would prove difficult as the Oak Leafers fell through the divisions like a trap-door.

Three consecutive relegations meant they would finish the decade in the basement division, beating Leitrim to claim that accolade with those in red and white wondering how it came to this.

There can be no doubting the county fell as victims of their own successful club scene.

Slaughtneil’s incredible rise also robbed Derry of a number of key players and through the fault of the GAA calendar helped the Oak Leaf fall from grace spiral out of control.

Amongst all of this, the county has enjoyed a number of fine footballers representing their cause...

Mark Lynch...

THE big Banagher man needs little or no introduction, an absolute institution when it comes to Derry football, particularly in this period until his inter-county retirement in 2018.

Lynch played a key role in all that was good about his county over the last 10 years. Arguably one of his finest moments in the red and white of Derry came throughout that run to the 2014 Division One League final when his performances reached gargantuan level.

Lynch kicked 1-8 as the Derrymen dealt with the All-Ireland champions, Dublin in Celtic Park.

Probably would have picked up an all-star in 2014 had Derry not been disastrously knocked out in the first round of the championship.

The qualifier specialists to a point aided to no level by the performances of Lynch, who went on to pick up a Derry intermediate title with his club in the year that followed his retirement.

Enda Lynn...

QUITE possibly the county's most consistent performer over the last decade with his Rolls Royce engine bringing the Greenlough man to the fore.

In a time where the county team struggled for consistency in terms of both performance and the personnel that took to the field, Lynn proved to be an anomaly in both regards.

Lynn has been a miss before the pandemic pressed pause on the current season and when he and football returns it will be a welcome boost to Rory Gallagher’s ambitions.

Chrissy McKaigue...

ONE of the top men in the county throughout the last decade with his unconquerable standards and his constant 8/10 performances.

Usually tasked with picking up the opposition danger man as evidenced by his battles with Tyrone’s Mattie Donnelly which saw two heavyweight titans cancel each other out.

It’s no surprise that his absence from the county scene due to his club commitments, Slaughtneil’s rise saw Derry plummet to Division Four before looking like a different team when McKaigue arrived back at the helm.

Natural leader who commands respect and nothing short of 100 per cent from those around him.

Oak Leafers were glad when he came home after a brief tenure Down Under with the Sydney Swans, captained the county to silverware in Croke last year albeit the Division Four League title.

Sean Leo McGoldrick...

SEAN Leo of the McGoldrick dynasty has always faced a tense battle to be named as one of the outstanding sports people in his household never mind one of the outstanding footballers in his county.

Sean Leo may be small in stature but his impact on the field far outweighs his size. A vital cog for Derry in terms of experience, guile, energy and talent for many years.

Instrumental in everything that was good about Derry football throughout this period in which his own club picked up two Derry senior football titles.

The Oak Leaf County are yet to replace the Eoghan Rua man after his decision to retire from the inter-county scene in 2018 after a decade of dedication.

Eoin Bradley...

‘SKINNER’ is probably the most recognisable figure in Derry football over the last decade and a bit. Natural talent and a natural footballer whose skill went beyond the county borders as a man with the ability to rival any defender or forward on the island.

There can be no doubt that Bradley was the man that brought Derry to the Ulster decider in 2011, his performance against Armagh in Clones to book that spot will live long in the memory of those who witnessed it.

It’s probably fair to say Derry had a slim chance of turning over a Donegal side under Jim McGuinness who would reach the Promised Land 12 months later but, when the Glenullin man was ruled out that slim chance fell closer to zero.

'Skinner' now plies his trade in the Irish League with Coleraine in his second stint of a trophy laden groundball career.

He was not called upon by Damian Barton and although never officially retiring from inter-county ball and saying he was available for selection, Derry were without doubt robbed of one of their greatest forwards and mavericks for at least another couple of years.

Honourable mentions: Patsy Bradley, Fergal Doherty, Brendan Rogers, Shane McGuigan, Ciaran McFaul, Dermot McBride.


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