9 Ulster All-Stars for Tyrone as Harte is 2017 Irish News Ulster “Footballer of the Year”
Following the heavy defeat at the hands of Dublin in the all Ireland semi final it may have been easy enough to forget that Tyrone GAA just delivered one of the most emphatic and impressive Ulster Senior Football Championship triumphs ever.
2017 can, without doubt, be deemed another very successful campaign for the tw0-in-a-row Ulster champions and it should be remembered too that they won the Anglo Celt Cup for the second year running with an astonishing 28 points to spare against the three Ds (Derry, Donegal and Down). Yes, we know the analysts have talked about how poor the Ulster championship was in 2017 and the drop in standards, etc… BUT that’s a lazy analysis at best too. Derry did suffer an unlucky defeat to Mayo, after extra time, and Armagh were comfortable winners against Leinster Runners-Up, Kildare.
Regardless, Tyrone GAA were still most impressive provincial champions and in 2017 have exhibited considerable progress, to say the least, in the ultimate push towards Sam again.
That is highlighted by the fact that 9 of the Tyrone team have now been named on the 2017 Irish News Ulster GAA All-Stars Team last night. In addition, there were two major awards for both Peter Harte and Sean Cavanagh.
Peter Harte portrayed his immense value with a series of swashbuckling performances in the 2017 championship and his brilliant form has been rewarded with the Ulster Player of the Year award.
Sean Cavanagh, who announced his retirement directly after the defeat to Dublin, was presented with the “Ulster GAA Lifetime Career Award”, in recognition of what has been one of the most outstanding football careers seen by any player ever in Ulster GAA.
In respect of the Ulster GAA All-Star Team, Tyrone were awarded 9 awards in total in the 15 with Niall Morgan, Ronan McNamee, Tiernan McCann, Padraig Hampsey, Colm Cavanagh, Matthew Donnelly, Niall Sludden, Mark Bradley and Peter Harte all picking up gongs.
Here is the Irish News Ulster All-Stars Team and what the Irish News said about each of the Tyrone players awarded…
1 Niall Morgan (Tyrone) – IT might not have been the busiest summer in terms of shot-stopping but for the Edendork man, Tyrone’s apparent change in kickout policy, and his work with new goalkeeping coach John Devine, has shone a bright new light on his ability. It was brightest in the Ulster semi-final win over Donegal, where his ability to go very, very long outfoxed the Tír Chonaill press and created a new attacking platform for the Red Hands. Also made two great saves against Dublin.
2 Ronan McNamee (Tyrone) – McNAMEE’S performances through the Ulster block of fixtures were such that any caveats that might be thrown – such as Colm Cavanagh’s covering position – are ever so easily batted away. Contained the threats of Danny Tallon, Connaire Harrison and Stefan Campbell and did enough to curtail Paddy McBrearty as well. That he showed a willingness to support the attack sums up Tyrone’s attitude.
3 James Morgan (Armagh)
4 Darren O’Hagan (Down)
5 Tiernan McCann (Tyrone) – PERHAPS the improvement in his finishing best underlines how Tiernan McCann manages to find new ways to improve with every passing year. Always a merchant of the lung-bursting run since he came on the scene, his conversion rate from chances has increased dramatically over the past 18 months, making him one of the country’s most feared wing-backs. Bagged the crucial goal against Donegal to kill the game and has enjoyed the freedom of Croke Park since.
6 Padraig Hampsey (Tyrone) – THE find of the Championship, without question. Had to serve his apprenticeship on the bench last year but forced his way into Mickey Harte’s starting line-up against Derry and has already become one of the first names on the teamsheet. Not only curtailed Michael Murphy but pushed forward relentlessly. Gathered up 0-5 from play across that game and the win over Down, a mark of the Coalisland man’s hard work at his shooting as well. A key component in the defensive system.
7 Darragh O’Hanlon (Down)
8 Colm Cavanagh (Tyrone) – THE glue that binds the Red Hands together but has really put himself in the running for a national Allstar because of the change in his role. Has been pushed out more often as a natural midfielder on Tyrone’s kickouts and has lorded it at times, not least in the Donegal game, where he was exceptional in the air. He was once more at his imperious best against Armagh in the quarter-final and was by far their outstanding player on an otherwise disappointing day against the Dubs.
9 Kieran Hughes (Monaghan)
10 Peter Harte (Tyrone) – HAS hit 1-8 of his own but his worth to Tyrone runs so, so much deeper than that. The Errigal Ciaran man has developed into one of the best playmakers of this generation, good enough to almost label him a new-age Brian McGuigan. Strong on the ball, both his pace and his strength are deceptive, as many an opposition defence has found out. Was particularly brilliant in the win over Armagh. He’s even added a right foot. Even managed flashes in the Dublin game despite some very close attention.
11 Mattie Donnelly (Tyrone) – TO try and define Donnelly’s role is a fool’s errand, for he seems to pop up on a million different blades of grass every time he takes the field. Produced a fine display of his kick-passing skills in the Ulster semi-final, feeding Mark Bradley so often, and was dominant in the provincial final where he kicked three points off perfectly timed runs from deep. Had hit six points prior to the All-Ireland semi-final.
12 Niall Sludden (Tyrone) – HAVING only made his championship debut last year, Niall Sludden has moved very quickly into a leading position for Tyrone and has been one of the key components of their counter-attacking play. Has mastered the art of arriving at the exact second he’s required to take the ball at pace and matches that with a serious finishing ability off his right side. Provided the wonderball for David Mulgrew’s first goal against Armagh and hit four points from play against Donegal.
13 Jamie Clarke (Armagh)
14 Mark Bradley (Tyrone) – GAVE Tyrone another dimension in attack with his incredible movement. Watching him would be a great lesson for any forward. The Killyclogher man covered the width of the pitch in every game, constantly running and pulling at times three defenders with him. The majority of his work was absolutely selfless but when he was given a chance to shine, he showed he could match the best for finishing ability.
15 Connaire Harrison (Down)
You can read the full piece n the full Ulster All Stars in today’s Irish News or click here