Tony Scullion hails Derry’s latest stars

By Michael McMullan

FORMER Derry star Tony Scullion has highlighted his delight with the county’s four All-Stars and Ethan Doherty being named as Young Player of the Year on Friday night.

The four-time All-Star defender said it was a just reward but a “dissenting” voice or two from within the county wouldn’t have helped their case.

Brendan Rogers, who was shortlisted for Player of the Year, Conor McCluskey, Gareth McKinless and Shane McGuigan took Derry’s tally number of All-Stars to 23 players and 33 awards in all.

Scullion and Anthony Tohill each have four, with Enda Gormley, Joe Brolly, Brian McGilligan and Anthony McGurk each honoured twice.

“I was absolutely proud to be a Derry man,” Scullion said of his feelings perched in front of the television on Friday night.

“For the efforts the lads have put in over the last number of years and for the enjoyment they gave us, it was just rewards, it was special to get four.”

Scullion looked back at the county’s All-Star history. He was one of seven in their All-Ireland winning season. Derry picked up three in ’92 on the back of National League success and their 1975 Ulster winning season.

“To get four was absolutely brilliant,” he added. “We got another Ulster title and to an All-Ireland semi-final we were very, very unlucky not to win.”

Scullion felt three might’ve been as many as Derry could’ve hoped for but, in his eyes, all four recipients were justified.

“There will be other lads in the panel who have put in the same work but those were the four I was hoping for and I am delighted they got them,” he said, adding how the county has been “buzzing” since Friday.

“Also, fair play to young (Ethan) Doherty to get Young Player of the Year, that is a marvellous achievement too.

“I felt great for the lads and I know it is a team game, but it is only right that individuals get rewarded for playing consistently.”

Scullion also felt “a dissenting voice or two” from within the Oakleaf County, criticising players, in the months since Derry’s All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Kerry may not have helped in terms of All-Star selection.

“It is deplorable to say that, for example, Shane McGuigan wasn’t at his best this year, and it was an insult. Chrissy McKaigue and Conor Glass were also mentioned,” Scullion said.

“I don’t know how we can be critical of our players that have given us so much over the last few years.”

In Scullion’s eyes, the fact Derry were just one shy of champions Dublin’s five recipients and were level with All-Ireland finalists Kerry, says a lot of the Oakleafers’ progress to back-to-back Ulster success.

“It doesn’t guarantee you anything for next year, but we were sitting at the top table and competing at the top table over the last few years,” he said, also suggesing that Division One status has lifted the county higher again.

“It shows you what the press, who select the All-Stars, thought of Derry’s team and their players individually, it speaks volumes,” he added.

“The feeling in Derry at the moment is so, so positive. How could it be anything else?

“Anyone I have been talking to since Friday night, they are just so delighted. Unfortunately the lads and the management won’t need me to tell them, 2024 is a new year and it is a clean slate.

“Please God we can keep going on and you never know what could happen.”

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