Hitting the ground running

1 Ethan Rafferty 0-1 (Armagh)

WHILE Cavan’s Raymond Galligan’s 0-7 is the top score for a goalkeeper, Rafferty’s only point for far came from play. And it was a thing of beauty. He came up to add to the attack against Monaghan and found himself pulling the trigger for a sweet score.


2 Paudi McGrogan 0-3 (Derry)

THE Newbridge man has been Rory Gallagher’s most used player over the four seasons and his consistency speaks for itself. The two points against Louth were so different. One a monster from long range to push Derry closer to victory and the other saw him cut inside with the footwork of an inside forward.


3 Johnny Cassidy 0-2 (Fermanagh)

The Enniskillen Gaels man has continued his fine club form into the green of Fermanagh.

Has played everywhere in the defence and he was along the few Erne scorers in a defeat to Derry while also getting forward to land one against Longford.

4 James McAuley 0-2 (Antrim)

McAULEY has only played two games for Antrim this season and has raised a white flag in both. When they were staring a heavy defeat in the face against Offaly it was his score that took the margin back to a goal and was on target in their blockbuster with Down.


5 Conor Francis 2-1 (Down)

ONE of four Down players in the line-up and it speaks volumes for the strides Conor Laverty has made since taking over as manager, starting all five dates to date. His goals against Antrim and Tipperary should give him confidence to add to the Mourne attacking unit even more.


6 Dara McVeety 0-8 (Cavan)

THE only problem with McVeety’s performances is that it leaves him a marked man and will dominate opposition team talks.

The Crosserlough man is some addition to the Breffni side and has notched eight points so far this season.

7 Caolan McColgan 0-3 (Donegal)

HE got forward from corner back to score in two of Ulster University’s Sigerson games. But it was in his Donegal debut, against All-Ireland champions Kerry that he nailed down a marker for the season ahead. There will be bigger days ahead but three points in an impressive first outing can never be taken away from him. It’s a great foundation.


8 Niall Donnelly 2-1 (Down)

HE hit two cracking goals against Derry in the McKenna Cup to edge out Antrim’s Conor Stewart (0-4) for the spot alongside another Down man at midfield.


9 Odhran Murdock 1-6 (Down)

MIXED Down and Ulster University during a busy January. With 1-6 to his name, Murdock is the top scoring midfielder in Ulster from play and hit the net during Down’s penalty shoot-out defeat to Derry.

Like Conor Stewart, he lofted over three points in the classic encounter in Páirc Esler as Down edged the Saffrons.

10 Niall Toner 1-10 (Derry)

DERRY must find someone to take the pressure off Shane McGuigan. How often have you heard it? Toner has put his hand up to join that category. The Lavey man was the best man on the field when Derry beat Down in the McKenna Cup and his goal against Louth rescued the Oakleafers from a sticky situation in Ardee.


11 Shane McGuigan 0-13 (Derry)

McGUIGAN has nailed two penalties his season – three if you count the shoot-out – but his 0-13 from play (from 2-31, the top score in Ulster) has helped the Oakleafers to their two opening wins in the league. In the absence of Conor Glass, he lifted the McKenna Cup.


12 Stephen O’Hanlon 0-8 (Monaghan)

LEVEL with Red Hand duo Darragh Canavan and Cathal McShane, the Monaghan man nicks the spot with more of his tally – 0-5 – coming in the two NFL games including 0-3 in an eye-catching performance against Kerry in the previous round.

13 Conor Turbitt 1-5 (Armagh)

HE looked the part against Mayo and ‘Turbo’ is beginning to deliver on the promise at underage. He is tall, elusive and has a burst to get away, making him perfect for Kieran McGeeney to keep defences guessing. The only score he didn’t notch from play was a mark against Antrim.


14 Pat Havern 1-12 (Down)

HAVERN notched 2-14 from play last year and looks set to smash that tally in 2023. He is in serious shape and playing the football of his career. He has featured in all the games this season and with Barry O’Hagan ruled out for the season, Down will lean on him even more.


15 Ruairi McCann 2-3 (Antrim)

AFTER coming back from injury, the Aghagallon man hit two points in a second half showing against Offaly and ramped up his performance against Down. His two goals should have been enough to tip the scales in Antrim’s favour. Level with Down’s Andrew Gilmore, but all McCann’s scores from play came in the league.

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