Ulster’s open season

With the All-Ireland and Tailteann campaigns heading into their second week, Michael McMullan took a look at the top scorers from play across Ulster this season in all competitions.

1 Oisín Gallen (Donegal) 2-24

SOME of his kicking in the Ulster final was off the charts and the MacCumhaills man is slowly becoming the leading light in Donegal’s attack that often leant in Michael Murphy for key scores. In an era when match ups are one of the key facets of the game, ‘Farrah’ using either foot keeps markers guessing.

2 Daniel Guinness (Down) 4-18

THE Carryduff utility man can be found anywhere in Conor Laverty’s plans and you’ll see a host of different jersey numbers on his back. The one thing that doesn’t change is how direct he is. There is a boost of energy and away he goes. In a gameplan where goals are gold, he has bagged four and kicked half a dozen points against London last weekend.

3 – Shane McGuigan (Derry) 1-25

McGUIGAN has the frame to play anywhere on a team. His leap to pluck kick-outs is an option and he tracked all the way back to make a block that helped Derry get a foothold back in their defeat in Galway. Known for his sweet left foot, he has worked on his right side and can pull the trigger of either foot.

4 – Darragh Canavan (Tyrone) 2-22

SMALL in stature but massive in impact. That’s Canavan in a sentence. He has the playmaking ability to be a number 11 in old money with the balance and trickery to have inside defenders in bother. With some of Tyrone’s 2021 All-Ireland winning team stepping away, Canavan is one of the new players they’ll build a future around.

5 – Dáire Ó Baoill (Donegal) 4-13

THE Gaoth Dobhair man is someone Ross Bogue or Odhrán Lynch won’t want to see too often. In an era when goalkeepers gamble on joining the play, Ó Baoill will now make them think twice with his ambition to try the lob. He has also played an important role in Donegal’s overall game with some vital points against Tyrone and Armagh when reintroduced.

6 – Odhrán Murdock (Down) 4-12

WHAT Conor Laverty wouldn’t do for two Odhrán Murdocks – one to lie in as a target man and another to operate in the middle third. The Burren man is a product of the club’s underage coaching line and played a vital role in Down’s u-20 success. He has slotted home two penalties to go with a vital 4-12 tally that will only grow as the Tailteann Cup develops.

7 – Sean Cassidy (Fermanagh) 2-11

IF Fermanagh can get ball to their inside line, they’ll ask teams plenty of questions. One of the reasons is Sean Cassidy. He scored a single point in the whole of the 2023 season but he has been a shining light in the Erne County’s attack. He has bagged goals against Cavan and Wicklow and Fermanagh fans will be hoping for more.

8 – Pat Havern (Down) 0-21

WITH 3-76, Havern was Down’s top scorer last season and he is heading that way again. His freetaking may have let him down in recent games but he is the key to Down going one better and lifting the Tailteann Cup. He has played mainly up top with spells at midfield or plonked in for the throw-in. Opponents will have a plan to stop him for the rest of the season.

9 – Oisín Conaty (Armagh) 0-21

ARMAGH’S new toy. In an attack where there is loads of balance it’s Conaty who provides some unpredicted punch. Corner backs hate him. He takes them on, cuts across their stance and is away. McGeeney put him on Ryan McHugh in the recent Ulster final and he bolted on two points going the other way. A man of the match contender.

10 – Conor Turbitt (Armagh) 2-15

‘TURBO’ would’ve been the man Jim McGuinness would’ve built his half-time Ulster final briefing around. The Clann Éireann man was tearing them apart and has been a consistent shooter up top all season. He bagged one of his goals against Fermanagh in the Ulster Championship and had a calm head to slot home his Ulster final penalty.

11 – Liam Kerr (Down) 2-15

KERR is the fourth Down man in our list despite being used as an impact sub against Armagh. The management used a different approach to use their runners in the second half. His punch on the front foot has been at the heart of everything Down have been about. He’ll have a big say in the Tailteann Cup.

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