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31st Oct 2023

GAA JOE Team of the weekend

Niall McIntyre

Barring a very small number, the Galway and Kerry football finals included, the majority of county championships have now been completed.

The bank holiday weekend just gone played host to 12 county finals, with the provincial championships now on the horizon. Na Fianna’s hurlers were arguably the story of the weekend, winning their first ever county title, while O’Loughlin Gaels’ triumph over Ballyhale Shamrocks was also noteworthy in Kilkenny.

Trillick defied the underdogs tag in Tyrone, keeping with the county’s long-standing tradition of seeing a new team crowned each year. It’s now 18 years since a team won back-to-back in the Red Hand, with Errigal Ciaran unable to match Carrickmore’s achievement from ’04 and ’05.

GAA JOE Team of the weekend

1 Jason Gillane (Patrickswell)

The younger of the Gillane brothers stopped at least two certain goals in his club’s loss to Na Piarsaigh in the Limerick final.

2 Eunan Mulholland (Glen)

Kicked 0-3 from play in Glen’s three-in-a-row victory in Derry.

3 Mike Casey (Na Piarsaigh)

Managed to hold Aaron Gillane to 0-2 from play in a combative showing on the edge of the square.

4 Fintan Burke (St Thomas)

Man-of-the-match as St Thomas’ kept up their incredible record in Galway senior hurling finals. The club have played in nine in their entire history, drawing one and winning eight.

5 Declan McGrath (Kiladangan)

Scored two from play and provided the killer pass for Sean Hayes’ game-winning goal.

6 Paddy Deegan (O’Loughlin Gaels)

Scored one raker in the first half but his winner in injury-time will go down in O’Loughlin Gaels folklore.

7 Conall Heron (Magherafelt)

Made the tackle of the year in yet another impressive display.

8 Willie Connors (Kiladangan)

Having endured 18 months of injury hell, Connors stepped up for Kiladangan in his first start of the year. Hit three points from play and his use of possession was industrious as ever. A re-call to the Tipperary panel may be due.

9 Richie Donnelly (Trillick)

In the absence of his brother Mattie, Richie stepped up for Trillick with three huge points from play as they defeated Errigal Ciaran to win their first Tyrone title since 2019.

10 Mark Bergin (O’Loughlin Gaels)

The former Kilkenny captain (2017) and All-Ireland winner (2012) had an almost unerring day on the frees, and also chipped in with three from play as O’Loughlins took down the Shamrocks.

11 Jason Curry (Rathgormack)

Having lost the last three finals in a row, Curry ensured Rathgormack got over the line in the Waterford SFC with four from play.

12 Sean Currie (Na Fianna)

Delivered another county final display for the ages. Currie was man-of-the-match, having hit seven from play in Na Fianna’s gut-wrenching loss to Kilmacud Crokes in 2021. He was again man-of-the-match here, hitting 2-5 from play this time around.

13 Conleth McGuckian (Glen)

His industry and energy got Watty Grahams going after a sticky start against Magherafelt.

14 Kevin Quinn (Blessington)

Used his size to great-effect on the edge of the square, kicking 0-3 from play as Blessington won the Wicklow SFC replay against Rathnew.

15 Michael Hurley (Castlehaven)

In a defensive Cork SFC final, Hurley was the one player who cut loose, scoring 0-5 from play.

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