Armagh duo claim Player of the Year gongs
RIAN O'Neill was named as the Irish News Ulster Allstar Footballer of the Year at a glittering ceremony in the Ulster Hall last night.
The Armagh and Crossmaglen forward, whose uncle Oisin McConville won Ulster Allstars in 1999 and 2002, came out top in the public vote after a fine summer in which he excelled in the qualifier win over Donegal and then produced one of its outstanding moments with the late normal-time equaliser against Galway.
His 50-metre free from near the sideline earned Armagh extra-time in a thrilling All-Ireland quarter-final, but their dream died in a penalty shootout against the team that would go on to reach the final.
O'Neill saw off the challenge of Derry trio Brendan Rogers, Conor Glass and Chrissy McKaigue, who were among the eight Oak Leafers to win Allstars for a county that hadn't won a single gong since 2011.
Late Tyrone and Dungannon star Damian Casey was named as Hurler of the Year having helped guide his county to the Nicky Rackard Cup, scoring 0-14 in a superb display in their final win over Roscommon.
Casey, who tragically passed away in June following an accident in Spain, had scored a remarkable 39-908 across his career with Tyrone and in a year where a record number of votes was received, he polled ten times as many votes as his nearest rival for the Irish News award.
The irrepressible Aimee Mackin was named as Ladies Footballer of the Year following another stunning summer that included hauls of 1-5 in the Ulster final and 0-11 in their All-Ireland quarter-final loss to Kerry.
The Shane O'Neills forward was one of seven Armagh Allstars that included her sister Blaithin.
Antrim's Róisín McCormick picked up the Camogie Player of the Year award after leading the Saffron attack all year. She hit 3-5 in the Ulster final win over Down and 2-7 in their league semi-final win over Cork, all of which came in the first half.