We look at some of the top performers in the Allianz Football League last weekend.
Ian Maguire (Cork)
His recent McGrath Cup appearances to one side, this was Maguire’s first competitive start for Cork since last February’s league win away to Monaghan and his tireless work-ethic told the story of a young footballer appreciative to be wearing the red jersey and determined to hold onto it.
Burst through from the throw-in at the start of the second-half to get his name among the scorers and was spotted on either sideline at different intervals during the second-half.
Emmett Bradley (Derry)
Oak Leaf Gaels have known of Bradley’s potential for quite a few years after starring on an excellent Glen side which has won Ulster honours.
But it seems this could be the year he translates that potential onto the senior scene.
From the moment he kicked a superb left wing score to open Derry’s account against Fermanagh, the midfielder was superb and, for the moment at least, is the man most likely to fill the void left by Fergal Doherty’s retirement.
Liam Silke (Galway)
Last year’s U21 star created numerous problems in the first-half going forward, and it was his well-timed incursion that provided the thrust to create the first Galway goal against Laois.
Was also excellent defensively, with his direct opponent being replaced at half time, and can be pleased with his showing.
Ciarán Thompson (Donegal)
Rory Gallagher wants to inject new impetus to his attack this year, and Ciaran Thompson looks to be an exciting prospect for Donegal.
Confidently kicked a difficult left-footed point from the wing for the team’s opening score in Newry on Saturday night, and set up two goals in the second- half.
Had a nice interchange with Ryan McHugh for the first goal and his long delivery led to McBrearty’s second goal two minutes later. One to watch.
Brian Ó Beaglaoich (Kerry)
It was his infringement in conceding a penalty that virtually ended the game against Dublin as a contest but under-age star Ó Beaglaoich shouldn’t be too deterred by that on what was a solid debut.
Paul Mannion had brought him on a roadrunner tour of the Davin Stand end of the pitch for the first quarter but thereafter the An Ghaeltacht man settled in and gained the upper hand over the corner forward.
Cillian O’Sullivan (Meath)
The award for most heart-warming tale from the weekend must go to Meath youngster Cillian O’Sullivan who played his first competitive game of inter-county football in exactly two years after his recovery from a career-threatening back injury.
One of the standout players on the Meath minor final beaten by Dublin in the 2012 Leinster and All-Ireland finals, the Moynalvey man was superb against Armagh, particularly in a first-half in which he claimed two points and played a part in a handful of others.
“Apart from the O’Byrne Cup this is obviously his first time back, so he’s just worked incredibly hard on his own to come back from the back injury and he’s a big addition to the group,” said his manager Mick O’Dowd. “It’s all credit to Cillian for his resilience and perseverance to come back.”
Thomas Kerr (Monaghan)
The Ballybay clubman could be poised to have an impact for Monaghan this season.
He may have made his debut a couple of years ago but has struggled to nail down a spot.
But he showed Malachy O’Rourke yesterday exactly what he can do under pressure.
Monaghan were trailing Roscommon by 1-7 to 1-2 in the third quarter and had shot a string of bad wides when Kerr showed great confidence and landed a superb point from the right. He repeated the dose less than a minute later.
Rory Brennan (Tyrone)
A mature display at centre back from the 21-year-old, who pushed forward in the second-half to finally provide the Red Hands with a way to prise open a packed Breffni defence.
Set up a point for Mattie Donnelly, scored one himself, and came to his side’s rescue late on with a vital interception as Cavan went in search of a goal.
He first came to notice with a string of classy displays in the county’s All-Ireland U21 triumph last year, and looks set to have a bright future as a Red Hand star.
Allianz Football League
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