6 Tyrone GAA stars named in Indo’s Top 50 GAA footballers of 2016

There is no question that it was an outstanding year for Tyrone GAA on the inter-county football scene and, while the O’Neill County may have missed out on the All Ireland final date in September, there was still that 19 match unbeaten run, Ulster Senior Championship glory for the first time since 2010, a National Football Division 2 league triumph as well as the fact only one point denied a victory against the eventual “very unlucky” All Ireland runners-up, Mayo.

Plenty to reflect upon and unequivocal promise again heading into 2017 but no surprise then to see all the teams of the year, players of the year and all the rest that goes with it now take centre-stage in the media. Of course the GAA/GPA All Star Awards are less that two weeks away and Tyrone should feature in that prestigious list.

But the latest addition is always an intriguing read as Colm Keys gives his verdict on the top 50 gaelic football players of 2016 in the Independent.


So who from Tyrone is on the list?

Well PETER HARTE is first up on his list at number 7. Little surprise there as the Errigal Ciaran clubman really shone brightly this campaign with a series of outstanding displays in the championship and looks ‘nailed on’ for an All Star award too!

“It wasn’t so much his quantity of scores from play, 3-8, but the quality that ranks him so highly. His winning Ulster final point was arguably the score of the year but the stealth of his movement to join and finish attacks was crucial to Tyrone”

The next addition comes in at number 20 but really MATTIE DONNELLY has to be much higher up the list. The brilliant Trillick man, who was an all-star winner in 2015, would be an almost first choice on any team in Ireland right now such is his influence!

“The eight points he scored in his five championship games reflected the best of one of the game’s top ball carriers. Everything he does had a bit of polish about it.”

At number 36 on the list is brilliant Moy man, COLM CAVANAGH. The Tyrone midfielder was a revelation again in 2016 and in truth has been the county’s most consistent figure over the past three or four seasons. Again a vital cog in the Tyrone chain with big things expected again in 2017.

“Was there a better catch from a kick-out than Cavanagh’s against Cavan in their Ulster semi-final draw when he appeared to hang in the air for an eternity? Another fine season as the Tyrone defensive ‘screen.”

Just one place behind Cavanagh on the list is CATHAL McCARRON. The Dromore man is making plenty of headlines right now with the release of his new book but, regardless of opinions, it is impossible not to be impressed by his return to the fore in the Tyrone team with a series of excellent performances again in 2016.

“Always tasked with minding the most dangerous forward on an opposing team but McCarron won his fair share of battles in league and championship, Donegal’s Michael Murphy included.”

Then comes the Tyrone captain, SEAN CAVANAGH. The 2008 Footballer of the Year is apparently still considering his future with Tyrone but such was his influence again in 2016 that every Red Hand gael will be looking to the heavens to give him the motivation to continue for another big All Ireland challenging campaign. What about his inspirational points in this year’s Ulster final. Named at number 44 on the Indo list of GAA Star Top 50 of 2016 – we think he will be a lot higher up there on that list when it comes out in October 2017!!!!!

“A relatively quiet season but who can ever forget the quality of his scores in the Ulster final? Worth their weight in gold.”

A most deserved sixth inclusion in the list is Dromore’s NIALL SLUDDEN. A brilliant campaign and a player who has emerged very much in the mould of Brian Dooher who really was having a major influence as a regular first team player in 2016. Named at number 48 on this list, more of the same is awaited with anticipation next term.

“An important cog in Tyrone’s counter-attacking game, he had a big Ulster final and was a key first-half influence against Mayo.”

So there you have it. Six Tyrone names on the list but plenty more could surely have been considered!

Incidentally, Mayo’s Lee Keegan was deservedly named at number 1 in 2016 and must be this year’s “Footballer of the Year” with three Dublin men coming next in the list in Ciaran Kilkenny, Brian Fenton and Johnny Cooper with Donegal’s Ryan McHugh at number 5.

CLICK HERE to read the full piece in the Independent.

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