2023 Ulster Schools Football All-Star team

April 12, 2023

FOUR players announced in the Danske Bank Ulster schools’ All-star football team will be picking up a second award when they take to the stage at the Ramada Hotel later this month at the All-star banquet.

St Mary’s Magherafelt pair Niall O’Donnell and Conhuir Johnston as well as Dean Mag Uirc Markey Cup winner Rónán Fox were included in last year’s football team while St Patrick’s Maghera defender Fionn McEldowney doubles down on his hurling award announced yesterday.

The Magherafelt pair were MacRory Cup medallists last year. O’Donnell picked up a serious injury in the pre-season Eos Cup tournament hosted by UUJ and missed most of the MacRory Cup campaign that saw them lose at the quarter-final stage to Patrician High Carrickmacross.

O’Donnell was part of the Derry senior squad that won the Dr McKenna Cup, while Conhuir Johnston has progressed into the Antrim senior squad. Both students helped St Mary’s win the Danske Bank Casement Cup for the first time and reach the All-Ireland final in March.

Loughmacrory clubman Rónán Fox won an All-Ireland under 20 medal with Tyrone last year and was a huge presence for his school in the Markey Cup campaign this spring term.

The fourth double award winner is Maghera dual star Fionn McEldowney who is chasing his sister Céat, a double award winner in camogie, who went on to collect two All-Ireland club medals with Slaughtneil.

McEldowney is joined in the team by another Maghera player Eoin Higgins who played a key role as Dungiven collected county and Ulster minor club medals at the end of 2022.

At the other end of the scale is Finbarr Roarty who becomes the first player from St Columba’s Comprehensive College in Glenties to win an All-star. Ten days ago Finbarr captained Donegal to the Ulster minor league title.

Another winner at Ulster club level is St Patrick’s Academy and Stewartstown Harps forward Theo Lowe who comes in at corner forward. Lowe was a regular scorer for the Harps who lost out in the All-Ireland final in Croke Park and also for the Academy who lost narrowly to Holy Trinity Cookstown in the MacRory semi-final.

The Academy have three players included in the team – Michael Carty and Rónán Cassidy are the others – while there are two awards each for Maghera, St Mary’s Magherafelt and Patrician High Carrickmacross.

The Patrician pair are defenders Darragh Mee and Fionán Carolan who won MacLarnon Cup medals last year and helped Carrick reach the MacRory semi-finals this season.

There are single awards for six schools including Conor Owens a MacRory and Hogan winner with Omagh CBS, while MacRory finalists Holy Trinity didn’t make the cut at all. Neither did first time MacLarnon Cup winners St Joseph’s Donaghmore who also went on to collect the All-Ireland title.

When announcing the team yesterday Ulster schools’ GAA chairman Jimmy Smyth referenced the competitive nature of the all the senior football competitions this year and the high standard at the All-star trials.

“Ulster Schools would like to congratulate all these young players who will collect these prestigious awards at the end of the month.

“Their selection has brought great joy to their schools, especially in the case of Finbarr Roarty who is the first ever from St Columba’s Glenties to gain a schools’ All-star award.

“I would also offer special congratulations to Slaughtneil’s Fionn McEldowney of St Patrick’s College, Maghera who by winning hurling and football awards in the same year, becomes a member of a small and elite group of dual players.”

Danske Bank Chief Executive Vicky Davies said: “The Ulster Schools’ All Stars is a celebration of youth sports and is something that Danske Bank is very proud to support. To be nominated for an All Star is an immense achievement and I’d like to congratulate the 29 players across hurling and football receiving this outstanding accolade.”

2022-23 Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Football All Stars

1. Jamie Mooney (Our Lady’s Castleblayney)

2. Michael Carty (St Patrick’s Dungannon)

3. Darragh Mee (Patrician High Carrickmacross)

4. Fionán Carolan (Patrician High Carrickmacross)

5. Finbarr Roarty (St Columba’s Glenties)

6. Ryan Duffy (St Colman’s Newry)

7. Fionn McEldowney (St Patrick’s Maghera)

8. Niall O’Donnell (St Mary’s Magherafelt)

9. Rónán Fox (Dean Mag Uirc Carrickmore)

10. Rónán Cassidy (St Patrick’s Dungannon)

11. Conhuir Johnston (St Mary’s Magherafelt)

12. Eoin Higgins (St Patrick’s Maghera)

13. Theo Lowe (St Patrick’s Dungannon)

14. Conor Owens (Omagh CBS)

15. Luke McManus (St Macartan’s, Monaghan)

By Seamas McAleenan Pub;lished in the Irish News 12/04/23