1 Shane McGuigan 2-50
THE championship’s top scorer overall was also the key man from open play in a season to remember for Derry.
Three of his tally came in Ederney on the opening day in the McKenna Cup against Fermanagh and the notched the same against the Kingdom in Croke Park. He hit 2-5 in total against the Erne County in the Ulster Championship but his performance against Armagh in the final was awesome.
2 Pat Havern2-34
MIDFIELD or up front made no difference to the big Down battering ram. He burled scores and showed his class as Down went all the way to the Tailteann Cup final.
He hit the net against Tipperary in Thurles and added to the woe inflicted on Laois in the Croke Park hammering. His performance against Derry in the McKenna Cup yielded a handful of points from play.
3 Darragh Canavan 1-33
THE Errigal wizard is in the mix for an All-Star but it’s hard to see him getting one with the Red Hands going out at the quarter-final. He was shown signs of being the complete footballer with balance, accuracy and a pass that can take anyone into the game.
He was on song in the All-Ireland group stages with 10 points against Westmeath and half the dozen the following day to see off Donegal.
4 Liam Kerr 6-17
DON’T mention Liam Kerr to anyone in Laois. The Burren flier blistering pace is one thing, but the 3-2 he bagged against them at Croke Park put their lights out completely. The afterburners he flicked on against Donegal helped him to an Ulster Championship goal in Páirc Esler.
Down manager Conor Laverty used rotation very well, but Kerr’s consistency was a huge plus for the Mourne men.
5 Ruairi McCann 8-9
THE Aghagallon version of Ruairi McCann – as opposed to the Cargin one – was the focal of everything Antrim did. Aside from the young bucks dotted through Andy McEntee’s side, McCann gave the option of tossing the ball in whatever way they needed. No full-back was going to have a handy afternoon. He came off the bench against Offaly to offer them something different in the league opener and bagged 2-1 against Down in a game they had pulled from their clutches late on.
6 Paul Cassidy1-28
PAUL Cassidy maintains his rise from relative obscurity – he didn’t play minor for Derry – to a regular comes down to following Rory Gallagher’s blueprint to the last degree.
Quick and intelligent, Cassidy has added a regular scorer to what he offers. When Derry were under the cosh in the league final, he curled two points on a weekend he lost his grandfather. He has a big future ahead.
7 Ultan Kelm3-18
WHEN you give Chrissy McKaigue trouble, you are the real deal. His pace has Derry in trouble at times in the championship and Kelm had an excellent season for the Erne County.
He converted a free against Wexford and that was his only score from a placed ball. He got the ball rolling with a goal against Tyrone in the McKenna Cup.
An excellent player.
8 Conor Turbitt 2-19
WHILE he suffered a bit from squad rotation, ‘Turbo’ still proved himself as a vital cog of a trio that includes Andrew Murnin and Rian O’Neill.
He kicked 0-7 in a Man of the Match performance against Cavan in the Ulster Championship and will have a huge say as Armagh chase silverware.
When Armagh’s diesel light was flashing against Westmeath, he poked the goal that pushed them towards the line.
9 Niall Toner3-16
TONER pounced to score a vital goal in Ardee as Derry found a way to victory against a Louth side that closed the door on them for much of the game. It kept their early promotion challenge ticking over.
He backed it up with a goal against Meath two weeks later but the one in the league game against the Dubs in Celtic Park was massive. He is much maligned but Derry would’ve had more trouble with promotion without his input.
10 Darren McCurry 1-20
ONE of the best forwards in Ireland. ‘The Dazzler’ had Monaghan tied up in knots early in the championship game before the Tyrone wheels came off against a totally reinvigorated Farney side. His only goal of the season was a consolation against Derry in the McKenna Cup final.
11 Paddy Lynch3-14
HAD injury troubles but came good in the middle of the league as Cavan shot themselves towards promotion. He hit 2-5 against Down with 10 points coming in the previous game, a win over Offaly in Tullamore.
Burst onto the scene recently and has plenty to offer Cavan.
12 Odhrán Murdock 5-8
LIKE Pat Havern, Murdock moved from midfield to the inside line and his eye for goal makes him a player capable of going right to the top. He missed a few games in mid-season with manager Conor Laverty allowing Murdock to focus on u-20 duty. His almost a goal a game record was important to Down’s Tailteann Cup progress.