Provincial hot shots – Ulster’s top championship scorers

Niall Gartland looks at the final scoring rankings in this year’s Ulster Senior Football Championship

Shane McGuigan (2-21: 0-27)

IT’S fitting that Shane McGuigan finished as top scorer in this year’s Ulster Championship as he gave one of the great Ulster final performances against Armagh last weekend.

He finished with seven points on the day, including a number of clutch scores late in proceedings. After the game, Conor Glass mentioned him in the same breath as David Clifford and Con O’Callaghan – high praise indeed but there’s no doubt that he’s developed into one of the top forwards in the game. He’s been in top form throughout the championship and rattled in 2-5 in their quarter-final clash against Fermanagh.

Conor Turbitt (0-15)

ARMAGH forward Turbutt lit up the early stages of this year’s Ulster Championship.

Antrim had no answer to his attacking wares in the preliminary round, a day where he kicked eight points, including five from play. He was just as imperious on their second day out, landing seven points and winning the man of the match award into the bargain. He terrorised the Cavan defence, making himself available at every opportunity and scoring five points in the first 15 minutes alone. Surprisingly, he failed to find the target in their next two matches as Down and Derry did a job on him.

Conor McManus (0-12)

MCMANUS only returned for the tail-end of the league but he wasted no time in getting to business and made a big impact in Monaghan’s dramatic victory over Tyrone in the first round of the championship.

He was absolutely imperious from the dead ball that day, scoring eight of them and a fine point from play. McManus and the rest of his Monaghan teammates didn’t have the same joy in attack against Derry, but he still knocked over three frees.

STILL THE MANSY…Conor McManus kicked nine points from nine shots in Monaghan’s win over Tyrone

Pat Havern (1-9: 0-12)

PAT Havern had a big day out as Down got the better of Donegal in the first-round of the championship. Speaking after the match, he explained that he ushered away Ryan McEvoy when the Kilcoo man ran to take the Mourne County’s crucial spot kick in the second-half.

Havern did the rest on a day where he finished with 1-3 to his name. He was also assured from the dead ball in their defeat to Armagh in the last-four, scoring five of them and a point from play.

Rian O’Neill (1-6: 0-9)

ARMAGH lynchpin Rian O’Neill didn’t really feature in the early stages of the Ulster Championship as he recovered from a knock, but he returned to play a full role in their resounding semi-final win over Down.

While operating in a deeper role than last year, the Crossmaglen star scored a fine second-half goal against the Mourne Men. He was also exceptional in last weekend’s Ulster final, scoring a number of clutch points when his side needed him most, including the free deep into extra-time that sent the game to penalties. He missed his spot-kick but there’s no doubting his ability.

Brendan Rogers (1-4: 0-7)

DERRY star Brendan Rogers was chosen as the man of the match for his performance against Armagh.

He seems to love Ulster final day – he did an exceptional job shadowing Michael Murphy last year – and arguably he was even better this time around.

He scored two classy points in the first half and raised highest to fist home a goal after a garryowen from a Derry teammate.

The only blot on his copybook was a black card that saw him miss the first eight minutes of extra-time, but it was still a brilliant day’s work from the Sleacht Néill dual star who can play just about anywhere.

Paul Cassidy (1-4: 0-7)

THE Derry half-forward didn’t have his best day out against Armagh, rushing a number of shots and missing his spot-kick in the penalty shootout.

But he still had a good provincial campaign on the whole. He weighed in with 1-2 in a rout of Fermanagh in the quarter-finals, his first-half goal helping them on their way to an insurmountable 10-point lead at the break.

He followed that up with two points in their semi-final win over Monaghan.

RED HAND..Darragh Canavan hit 1-5 against Monaghan

Darragh Canavan (1-5: 0-8)

WHILE Tyrone only had one day out in this year’s Ulster Championship, it wasn’t Darragh Canavan’s fault they were pipped at the post by Monaghan. He lit up the first-half with a spell-binding display of attacking football.

His influence waned somewhat in the second-half as Monaghan manager reshuffled his defence, but he was still probably Tyrone’s best performer on the day.

Darren McCurry (0-6)

TYRONE’S Darren McCurry has been one of the best forwards in the country since Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher came on board a few years back.

He helped carry the fight to Monaghan in a thrilling championship opener in Omagh, knocking over some difficult frees and weighing in with two points. It looked like he’d hit a dramatic winner late in affairs – but Ryan O’Toole had other ideas.

Che Cullen (2-0: 0-6)

CHE Cullen’s return to the Fermanagh fold this year has been a major boost to the team. He’s one of the top defenders in the province, but he showed that he can also take a score – or two – weighing in with two majors against the run of play against Derry.

He’d been away for three years before returning this season but is evidentially just as good as ever.

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