Hurling and camogie

Magnificent seven for Antrim in Joe McDonagh Cup team of 2020 - Conor McCann named Player of the Year

Conor McCann celebrates the Joe Mc Donagh Cup triumph in Croke Park, Dublin in December 2020. Picture by Seamus Loughran
Andy Watters

THE series of high-scoring performances that spearheaded Antrim’s march to victory in last year’s Joe McDonagh Cup have earned Creggan Kickham’s clubman Conor McCann the accolade of GAA/GPA Joe McDonagh Cup Player of the Year.

McCann was one of seven Antrim players named in the McDonagh Cup select announced yesterday.

Defenders Matthew Donnelly and Stephen Rooney were named in the full-back line, while Ger Walsh was included at left half-forward,

Keelan Molloy earned one of the midfield berths and forwards Niall McKenna and Ciaran Clarke also featured alongside five players from losing finalists Kerry, two from Carlow and Westmeath’s Aonghus Clarke.

Creggan Kickham’s clubman McCann, scored 4-10 from play over the course of a Joe McDonagh campaign that ended with Antrim defeating Kerry in a keenly-contested final at Croke Park last December.

McCann's scores included 1-3 (Westmeath), 1-1 (Carlow), 2-3 (Kerry) and 0-2 (Meath) in the group stage and posted another score in the decider against the Kingdom.

The selection process for the GAA/GPA 2020 Joe McDonagh Cup Team of the Year included player and coach feedback and was finalised by an independent selection committee of journalists and referees.

GAA President John Horan, praised the “outstanding performers” for their efforts throughout an unprecedented season that also saw Darren Gleeson’s Glensmen clinch promotion to Division 1B of the National Hurling League.

“These awards give us an opportunity to salute the outstanding performers in what was an excellent Joe McDonagh Cup competition,” he said.

“My congratulations to all of those who have been selected and on behalf of the wider Association thank them for the effort they produced in such difficult circumstances in 2020.”

GPA CEO, Paul Flynn, added: “Congratulations to the 15 players who have been selected for the Joe McDonagh Cup Team of the Year. Your performances marked you out as the best among many outstanding performers in 2020.

“Congratulations too, to Conor McCann on his fully-merited awards. I also want to take this opportunity to thank all the players who competed in the Joe McDonagh Cup last year. The lift you helped give to your counties and to the country in very challenging times should not be forgotten.”

A special programme to honour the GAA/GPA 2020 Joe McDonagh Team of the Year will be featured on RTÉ 2fm’s Game On programme tomorrow evening from 6pm.

GAA/GPA 2020 Joe McDonagh Cup Player of the Year – Conor McCann (Antrim)

GAA/GPA 2020 Joe McDonagh Cup Team of the Year: Brian Tracey (Carlow); Tomás O’Connor (Kerry), Matthew Donnelly (Antrim), Stephen Rooney (Antrim); Jason Diggins (Kerry), Aonghus Clarke (Westmeath), Ger Walsh (Antrim); Shane Nolan (Kerry), Keelan Molloy (Antrim); Niall McKenna (Antrim), Shane Conway (Kerry), Daniel Collins (Kerry); Chris Nolan (Carlow), Conor McCann (Antrim), Ciaran Clarke (Antrim)

 

Ciaran Clarke featured highly for Antrim in five Joe McDonagh Cup games last year. Picture: Seamus Loughran.

 

Meanwhile, the best hurlers from the 2020 Christy Ring, Nickey Rackard, and Lory Meagher Cups have been announced with confirmation of the 2020 GAA/GPA Champion 15 team.

The selection contains players from nine counties and features seven players who competed in the Ring Cup, six who competed in the Rackard Cup, and two who competed in the Meagher Cup.

Christy Ring Cup winners, Kildare, lead the way with four players on the 15-man selection, while Down, Donegal, Mayo, Fermanagh, Offaly, Louth, Wicklow, and Tyrone are also represented.

The Player of the Year winners in the three competitions have also been confirmed.

Paul Divilly of Kildare (Christy Ring Cup), Donegal’s Danny Cullen (Nickey Rackard Cup), and Louth’s Andrew Mackin (Lory Meagher Cup), are all singled out for personal accolades on the back of excellent campaigns.

The long-serving Divilly was a colossus at midfield throughout Kildare’s campaign and starred in their Final victory over Down, scoring 1-1.

Danny Cullen performed similar heroics in the middle of the park for Donegal during their successful pursuit of the Nickey Rackard Cup, and showed real leadership in a dramatic Final victory over Mayo by hitting some crucial points when they were needed most.

While Andrew Mackin also proved himself to be a man for the big occasion as he hit 2-1 for Louth in their Lory Meagher Cup Final victory over Fermanagh.

Congratulating the winners, Uachtarán CLG John Horan said: “This is a great honour for the players chosen and for their families and clubs who they represent. These awards will be a reminder of the lengths all our players went to for our benefit during the tough year that was 2020.”

Paul Flynn, CEO of the GPA, added: “First of all, I want tto take this opportunity to thank all the players who competed in the Christy Ring, Nickey Rackard and Lory Meagher Cups in 2020.

''In very challenging times, you helped give fans of our games all over the country something to look forward to and discuss on a weekly basis and that should not be underestimated.

''My warmest congratulations to the 15 players who have made the Champion 15 and to Paul, Danny and Andrew on being named as Players of the Year in your respective competitions. You are all very deserving winners.”

The selection process for the GAA/GPA 2020 Champion 15 included player and coach feedback and was finalised by an independent selection committee of journalists and referees.

A special programme to honour the GAA/GPA Champion 15 will be featured on RTÉ 2fm’s Game On programme this Wednesday evening from 6pm.

 

Donegal's Sean McVeigh lifts the winner's cup at the end of the Nickey Rackard Cup final after defeating Mayo at Croke Park, Dublin on November 22 2020. Picture by Philip Walsh. 

 

GAA/GPA Christy Ring Cup Player of the Year: Paul Divilly (Kildare)

GAA/GPA Nickey Rackard Cup Player of the Year: Danny Cullen (Donegal)

GAA/GPA Lory Meagher Cup Player of the Year: Andrew Mackin (Louth)

GAA/GPA Champion 15

1: Stephen Keith (Down) – Christy Ring Cup

2: Sean McVeigh (Donegal) – Nickey Rackard Cup

3: Caolan Taggart (Down) – Christy Ring Cup

4: Cathal Freeman (Mayo) – Nickey Rackard Cup

5: Conor McShea (Fermanagh) – Lory Meagher Cup

6: Rian Boran (Kildare) – Christy Ring Cup

7: Danny Cullen (Donegal) – Nickey Rackard Cup

8: Eoghan Cahill (Offaly) – Christy Ring Cup

9: Paul Divilly (Kildare) – Christy Ring Cup

10: Damian Casey (Tyrone) – Nickey Rackard Cup

11: James Burke (Kildare) – Christy Ring Cup

12: Shane Boland (Mayo) – Nickey Rackard Cup

13: Jack Sheridan (Kildare) – Christy Ring Cup

14: Andrew Mackin (Louth) – Lory Meagher Cup

15: Christy Moorehouse (Wicklow) – Christy Ring Cup

 

Antrim's management team of Darren Gleeson, Johnny Campbell, Gary O'Kane and Jim Close celebrate with the Joe McDonagh Cup after their Saffrons' side defeated Kerry in the final. Picture by Seamus Loughran.

 

 

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Hurling and camogie