GLIST: McKenna Cup top scorers

Shaun Casey looks at the players who had their eye in during January’s pre-season.

Shane McGuigan 0-21

When it comes to the big day, that’s when Shane McGuigan grows rather than shrinks. It may only have been the McKenna Cup semi-final and final, but the Sleacht Néill man stepped up to guide the Oak Leaf County to another title and Mickey Harte’s first piece of silverware as Derry boss. McGuigan is now in the bracket of Clifford and O’Callaghan, and he seems to relish each and every opportunity he gets to demonstrate that.

Oisin Gallen 3-12

If Donegal are going to make the step up and start contesting for major honours again, then you feel that they are going to need a fully fit Oisin Gallen. In a full-forward line along with Patrick McBrearty and Jamie Brennan, this trio could cause a lot of headaches for defences right throughout the season and Jim McGuinness will hope that Gallen can keep fit for the remainder of the year.

Stephen Mooney 0-15

The Cremartin attacker has been an exciting underage prospect for a few years now that many outside of the Farney County probably didn’t know much about. He announced himself onto the inter-county stage with a haul of 0-5 after coming in off the bench against Antrim while he kept Monaghan’s overall tally respectable against Donegal in the semi-final, flying over a further eye-catching 0-8.

Oisin O’Neill 0-10

When O’Neill pulled on the orange and white shirt against Tyrone for the first time since April 2022, he couldn’t have dreamed for a better return to the county set up. The Crossmaglen man, who was named Armagh Club Player of the Year in 2023, fired over 0-7 in his side’s one-point victory over the Red Hands and picked up the Man of the Match award that night. Against Derry in the semi-final, O’Neill chipped in with a tally of 0-3.

Oisin Brady 0-9

To receive the Man of the Match award after finishing the game on the losing side tells you a lot about Brady’s performance against Down. He was simply untouchable that night and was unlucky not to have hit the net as well but did score 0-7 in a fine performance despite his side losing by three in the end. Brady has the potential to have a big season and Raymond Galligan will hope his scoring talents carry into the league.

Paul Cassidy 0-8

Perhaps one of the unsung heroes of the Derry team, Cassidy chipped in with regular scores right throughout the McKenna Cup as the Oak Leaf County retained their title. He split the posts in each of their four outings, top scoring in their first-round victory over Cavan with 0-4, all from play. The hard-working half-forward has been an ever present in the Derry team and has another big season ahead.

Michael Langan 1-4

Burst out of the traps for 2024 was an amazing performance at centerfield for Donegal in the first round of the McKenna Cup, although admittedly against a youthful Armagh side that didn’t have any regulars on the team sheet. Still, Langan stood out that night and contributed a handsome return of 1-4. He didn’t feature in either the semi-final or final, but could have a big year ahead of him.

Pat Havern 0-7

The likes of young Oisin Savage and Liam Kerr are exciting scoring talents up front but the main man for Down remains to be Pat Havern. So much of what the Mourne attack does well goes through him, and he can mix it up between playing a tradition full-forward role and dropping deeper out the field to help his team out. If Down are to capture some silverware in 2024, then the Saval sharpshooter will be key to their chances.

Paddy Lynch 0-7

Lynch missed Cavan’s final game of 2023 when they lost to Down in the quarter-final of the Tailteann Cup, so keeping him fit and fresh is a must for Raymond Galligan. With Gearoid McKiernan stepping away from the panel this season, a lot of the scoring burden could fall at the feet of Lynch, but as the big full-forward has shown in the past, that’s a pressure that he will thrive on.

David Garland 1-3

Like his county teammate Stephen Mooney, Garland came off the bench in that opening round win over Antrim and immediately caught the headlines for his scoring return. His personal haul of 1-3 helped Vinny Corey’s side get 2024 off on the right foot and Garland has shown in the past at Sigerson Cup level that he has a keen eye for goal. Division One football is a big step up, but we will likely see more of him this season.

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