CLUB STARS: ANTRIM
By Jim Smyth
1. JOHN FINNUCANE (LAMH DHEARG)
In the bid for league survival and the senior championship crown, he made few mistakes. Was a safe pair of hands all season. Has been a Godsend for the club since joining from St Enda’s.
2. COLIN BRADY (ST GALL’S)
As corner backs go, there are none better. The 25-year-old has come through the ranks and has seven senior championship medals to date. His tight marking and blocking have made him the scourge of corner forwards. When not engaged with his club he works as an engineer.
ANTRIM CHAMPIONSHIP STAR MAN: ANDREW McCLEAN (ST GALL’S)
McClean has been rock solid in the full-back berth both for club and county, his high fielding, sure hands and intelligent delivery making him a class apart. An added bonus is his ability to come forward and his insurance point against Cargin, in the senior championship semi-final, may well have been the most important point of the entire season.
At just 22, he has been there and done it all. Although only a few years out of the minor ranks, where he won a championship gong, he has also secured four U21 medals and a similar number at senior level. Obviously the sky’s the limit for such a talented player.
A former pupil at De La Salle, where he honed his game, he has the unique distinction of having represented Ireland in Australian Rules Football at U17 level. St Gall’s and Antrim should be thanking their lucky stars that he returned safely from Down Under.
Andy is currently a sports scientist at Jordanstown.
4. KEVIN O’BOYLE (ERIN’S OWN)
ONEof the outstanding Cargin performers. Consistency personified, the 21-year-old university student has gone from strength-to-strength in his three years in senior football.
He was the club’s Player of the Year in 2006. Although not the tallest defender, his speed off the mark, precision passing and excellent reading of the game certainly outweigh his lack of inches.
5. JOSEPH CAREY (ST ERGNAT’S)
There are few better defenders. The 21-year-old builder, with just three years’ senior experience, has been one of his side’s inspirational figures. Not the tallest defender, his dynamism has seen him help his club to league success and an intermediate championship final. When in possession he is seldom robbed despite having only one eye on the ball and the other on its intended destination.
6. JUSTIN CROZIER (ERIN’S OWN)
Solid as a rock in this position, the 20-year-old QUB medical student has proved his versatility by popping up all over the place. Seldom does he not manage to get his name on the score sheet.
A well-balanced and unselfish player with a strong work ethic, his mobility is his strongest asset.
7. SEAN KELLY (ST GALL’S)
What more can be said about a player who has captained his county on a couple of occasions?
The 26-year-old St Mary’s Grammar School teacher is one of the best half-backs in the business.
A stylish playmaker and excellent reader of the game, he has been known to show his forward colleagues how it should be done.
His dashing runs forward have caused consternation in many a defence.
8. PADDY LOGAN (ALL SAINTS)
Since his move to All Saints two years ago he has reinvented himself and changed their fortunes completely with his sensational performances at midfield.
His high-fielding and accurate place-kicking saw his club bridge a 22-year gap in winning the intermediate championship against all the odds.
Can be relied on for a handful of points in every game.
9. MICHAEL McCANN (ERIN’S OWN)
Chosen as the county senior Footballer of the Year, the 22-year-old quantity surveyor certainly got all of his levels correct.
Part of the Cargin engine room, he has been the driving force behind his club for years.
Both at club and county level, McCann (left) can be relied on to contribute his fair share of scores, as he did when winning McRory and Hogan Cup medals when a student at St Patrick’s, Maghera.
Always certain to make and contribute to the scoresheet.
10. PHILIP MAGUIRE (ST TERESA’S)
son of former county player Danny, Phil has certainly made a name for himself.
Although carrying an injury in the junior championship final, the former De la Salle McLarnon cup captain was as inspirational as ever. A strong and skilful playmaker.
11. MICHAEL MAGILL (TIR NA NOG)
A former St Louis Grammar School and Quee’ns University player the
25-year-old computer analyist, now working in London, was the rock on which Tir na nOg’s passage to the semi-final of the intermediate football championship and promotion to Division Two were based.
His outstanding performance against All Saints in the intermediate semi-final was certainly one to remember.
12. PADDY CUNNINGHAM
When it comes to scoring there is no-one better. The 22-year-old has pulled his side out of many tight corners.
A teacher in Corpus Christie College, he has won every honour possible when a student at UUJ including the Sigerson Cup. A university Allstar, he was twice top scorer in the competition. Without his half-a-dozen points per game average, his club would not have figured this season.
13. KARL STEWART (ST GALL’S)
The 25-year-old joiner has come up through the club ranks with six senior medals and three at U21 level. As a student at De La Salle he figured prominently in the McLarnon Cup team. Skilful and deadly when within shooting range, he is also strong and robust.
14. BRENDAN HASSON (ST MARY’S)
AT home at midfield or full-forward, the 20-year-old was chosen as this year’s U21 Player of the Year.
He is one of four Hassons on the Rasharkin side which were narrowly beaten in this season’s senior championship semi-final. Thrives on making dashing solo runs which inevitably end in spectacular goals.
15. GERARD NUGENT (SEAN McDERMOTT’S)
One of the main figures in driving McDermott’s to junior championship success, the ace corner forward figured in all four championship games, including the surprise defeat of St Teresa’s in the final. A strong, forceful and accurate finisher who always brings his team-mates into the game.