All-Ireland minor champions Derry met Monaghan in both the Ulster and All-Ireland finals. It’s not surprising the counties dominate the Electric Ireland Minor football Team of the Year released this week
1. Jamie Mooney (Monaghan and Cremartin)
FOUR penalty saves in the Ulster semi-final shootout against Tyrone caught the eye but those heroics were only just one part of a great year for the goalkeeper. Only conceded three goals in the Oriel County’s last four matches, the Ulster final and three games in the All-Ireland series.
2. Jack Lynch (Monaghan and Monaghan Harps)
ANY team that reaches an All-Ireland final is going to come up against more than a few marquee attackers and when Monaghan met such opponents, Lynch was man tasked with trying to curb them. Few got much change out of him and his early injury-enforced departure from the All-Ireland final was a tough blow.
3. Fionn McEldowney (Derry and Sleacht Néill)
AN inspirational captain as the Oakleaf County claimed the title for the sixth time and the second occasion in four seasons. McEldowney was a dual Ulster Colleges All-Star earlier this year and lived up to a strong family tradition with a series of strong performances en route to glory.
4. Eoin McGreal (Mayo and Garrymore)
THE nature of the Connacht format meant that Mayo played six games to claim the provincial crown. While their year ended with quarter-final defeat, it was one to look back on with pride for McGreal, who was consistently excellent in defence.
5. Cahir Spiers (Derry and Magherafelt)
ALL modern-day wing-backs are expected to be the equivalent of a footballing Swiss Army knife, capable of carrying out their primary duties in defence and then rampaging forward to provide extra presence in attack. Spiers gave quality examples of this game after game, scoring 1-4 across Derry’s last four matches.
6. James Sargent (Derry and Lavey)
IT was fitting that Sargent scored the crucial goal in the All-Ireland final win over Monaghan as he was such a formidable present in the Oakleaf County’s team throughout the season. Equally capable of contributing in midfield as centre-back, he was a constantly visible source of leadership and endeavour.
7. Ryan Mitchell (Dublin and Erin’s Isle)
THE Player of the Match as Dublin beat Kildare to win the Leinster MFC final, Mitchell was prominent in both the All-Ireland quarter-final win over Cork and semi-final defeat to Derry, kicking points on each occasion.
8. Ben Murphy (Kerry and Austin Stacks)
AN exemplar of the need for versatility in the modern game as he lined out at full-back, wing-back and midfield. Set up both goals to earn Player of the Match in the Munster final win over Cork and scored 1-1 in the All-Ireland quarter-final win over Kildare while he lost no honour in the semi-final loss to Monaghan.
9. Tommy Rogers (Derry and Kilrea)
A COUSIN of senior star Brendan, he showed that the family genes are strong when it comes to industrious midfielders. Rogers was a byword for consistency throughout the Ulster and All-Ireland campaigns, never found wanting when it came to doing what was right for the team.
10. Seán Óg McElwain (Monaghan and Scotstown)
IN Monaghan’s final five matches – the Ulster semi-final and final and the All-Ireland quarter-final, semi-final and final – McElwain contributed 1-10, with just two points of that tally coming from frees. While the final ended in defeat, he arguably scored the point of the game with a first-half boomer.
11. Tommy Mallen (Monaghan and Scotstown)
HE may have word the number six jersey but more often than not he was found loitering with intent in the half-forward line. Scored three points in the All-Ireland quarter-final win over Mayo and 1-1 in the semi against Dublin, with his pace a valuable asset that few defences were able to get to grips with.
12. Johnny McGuckian (Derry and Glen) – PLAYER OF THE YEAR –
SERVED notice of his potential when he was named in the 2022 Team of the Year and he took his game to new heights with a series of totemic displays in the run to All-Ireland glory. Always selfless in terms of getting the ball to the player best placed to score, his ability to be in the right place at the right time was central to Derry going all the way.
13. Conall Higgins (Derry and Magherafelt)
CAPABLE of weighing in with a sizeable tally on the scoreboard, not least with his three points from play in the All-Ireland final. Helping Derry to victory allowed him to celebrate with the knitted scarf his grandmother Mairéad Mulholland had made for him shortly before her passing the week before the game.
14. Matthew Finn (Monaghan and Emyvale)
THE talisman of the Monaghan attack was somebody that few defenders were able to curb and he showed his quality with three points from play in the All-Ireland final loss to Derry. His 1-4 in the Ulster semi-final with Tyrone – which Monaghan won on penalties – was a crucial intervention.
15. Paddy Lane (Kerry and Austin Stacks)
THOUGH Kerry lost to the Monaghan at the semi-final stage, it wasn’t for the want of effort on Lane’s part as he scored six points despite being double-marked at times. That followed on from 1-7 against Kildare and a vital goal against Cork in the Munster final.