It’s All-Star season, and Shaun Casey has sifted through the records to identify the most recent football All-Stars for Ulster’s nine counties
Antrim: Andy McCallin
ANDY McCallin is Antrim’s first and to date only All-Star and he earned the gong way back in 1971, at corner-forward. McCallin was a dual star for both the Saffrons and Limerick, having relocated down south in 1980 and actually lined out for Tarbert in County Kerry for a spell. But his most successful period was with his native club St John’s in Antrim where he won eight SFC medals and two SHC titles. McCallin also won three county minor titles with St John’s as a manager and managed the Antrim minors and Limerick footballers.
Armagh: Ronan Clarke
RONAN Clarke won an All-Ireland medal with Armagh in 2002 at just 19 years of age and despite winning Young Footballer of the Year that season, he had to wait until 2006 to pick up his first All-Star award. Clarke was the last Armagh player to be named in the Team of the Year and finished his career with two All-Stars, in 2006 and 2008. The Pearse Óg clubman was tortured with injuries throughout his career and despite numerous attempts to get back in the orange and white, Clarke last lined out for Armagh in 2010.
Cavan: Thomas Galligan
GALLIGAN was one of three Cavan players that were recognised for their contribution to the Breffni Blues winning the Ulster championship in 2020. Galligan, along with goalkeeper Raymond Galligan and defender Padraig Faulkner, earned their place in the Team of the Year. Cavan ended a 23-year wait for the Anglo Celt and Galligan gave an outstanding Man of the Match display at midfield in the final victory over Donegal. Mickey Graham’s side qualified for the All-Ireland semi-final, but Dublin proved too strong on that occasion.
Derry: Conor Glass
DERRY’S growing list of All-Stars will surely be added to in the near future but for now, midfield maestro Conor Glass was the most recent recipient. The Watty Graham’s giant earned the award last year, along with Chrissy McKaigue, as Derry were crowned kings of Ulster for the first time since 1998. Glass was instrumental in their campaign, which ended in an All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Galway. It’s been a busy few years for Glass who also helped Glen win their first Derry championship and first-ever Ulster title.
Donegal: Michael Murphy
IT’S no surprise that Donegal’s 2012 All-Ireland winning captain Michael Murphy picked up three All-Star awards in the decade that he captained the Tir Chonaill men and was also named as Young Player of the Year in 2009, Dongeal’s first-ever recipient of the award. Murphy earned his first All-Star in 2012, scoring a goal in their All-Ireland final victory over Mayo and secured another two years later as Jim McGuinness’ men reached another All-Ireland decider, losing to Kerry this time around. Murphy was also named on the 2019 Team of the Year.
Down: Benny Coulter
COULTER was the last of four All-Star winners for Down in 2010 when James McCartan’s side reached the All-Ireland final. The Mourne men lost to Cork by the minimum of margins, but Coulter was absolutely crucial to Down reaching the final day, his goal against Kildare in the semi-final securing their place in the decider. Coulter will go down in history as a Down legend having been regarded as one of the best attackers of his generation, but ended his career empty-handed, outside of his All-Star.
Fermanagh: Barry Owens
FERMANAGH have only ever won four All-Star awards and two of those belong to Barry Owens. Peter McGinnity (1982) and Marty McGrath (2004) are the other Erne men that have earned the gong, but Owens picked up All-Stars on two occasions in 2004 and 2006. Owens was superb for Charlie Mulgrew’s side as they reached the last four of the All-Ireland series in 2004, beating Armagh in the quarter-final before losing to Mayo after a replay. Owens was again named in the Team of the Year two years later when Fermanagh only reached round four of the qualifiers.
Monaghan: Conor McManus
CONOR McManus was awarded three All-Stars in five years, (2013, 2015 and 2018) tying ‘Nudie’ Hughes’ record of Monaghan’s most decorated player. The Clontibret sharpshooter led the charge for Malachy O’Rourke’s men when they ended a 25-year wait for an Ulster title in 2013. McManus was to the fore once again two years later as they once again captured the Anglo Celt cup, beating Donegal on both occasions. Monaghan also reached the All-Ireland semis in 2018 but lost out to Tyrone.
Tyrone: Darren McCurry
McCURRY was in the form of his life when Tyrone were crowned All-Ireland champions in 2021 and his goal in the All-Ireland final secured victory over Mayo. The Edendork attacker was one of eight Tyrone players named on the Team of the Year and six of those, including McCurry, picked up the gong for the very first time. McCurry gave a Man of the Match display in the final, finishing the game with 1-4 as Tyrone captured the Sam Maguire for the fourth time in their history.