Four St. Mary’s players are named in the Electric Ireland HE GAA Rising Star Awards, Football Team of the Year for 2019.
These awards acknowledge outstanding performances in the battle for the third level football and hurling championships and come at the end of what was another fantastic season for St. Mary’s and third level GAA action.
Following St. Mary’s remarkable run to yet another Sigerson Cup decider, the four players rewarded with a place on the Team of the Year are; goalkeeper Mark Reid (Down), midfielder Jarlath Óg Burns (Armagh), corner forward Stephen McConville (Down) and filling the other corner, Shane McGuigan (Derry).
The breadth of county ties in the Team of the Year show how successful the best teams were in putting to one side their county rivalries for the sake of their college and each of the players selected for St.Mary’s were integral to their Sigerson cup run. Bryansford’s Mark Reid had opposing teams throughout the competition struggling to keep up with his dynamic and varied kicking patterns which consistently found his man in the right position of the field and, when needed in the semi-final, he was also at hand to make a match-winning save.
Jarlath Óg Burns has been the engine in the middle of the St.Mary’s team this year and his athletic ability is difficult for almost all who face him directly. Not only able to field the ball above his opposing number, his pace is uncommon in the middle of the park and made him time and again, the difference maker in close ties throughout this year’s competition.
Stephen McConville was St. Mary’s talisman in 2019. Roaming regularly in the half forward line, he proved elusive throughout the campaign and was often the connecting link between a rugged St. Mary’s defence and a potent attacking line scoring and setting up points at ease. One player who benefited from Stephen’s forward play was Shane McGuigan.
From the first game against NUIG to the last against UCC Shane McGuigan was the most prolific scorer in the competition. Despite sometimes being double-marked he was accurate from tight positions and ruthless when taking goal chances. Shane was the point at the top of the spear for St.Mary’s and, alongside his three teammates, was a fitting selection for the Electric Ireland HE GAA Rising Star Awards, Football Team of the Year for 2019.
The battle for the Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup was a close fought affair and UCC are the dominant presence with 6 star players after a stellar final performance against the well drilled and determined St Mary’s University College who have the 4 star players listed above. NUI Galway (2), UCD (2) and LYIT (1) also feature on the football panel.
Also named this year were the Electric Ireland Footballer of the Year, Sean O’ Shea and the Electric Ireland Hurler of the Year, Shane Conway also from UCC.
The Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup similarly produced some thrilling games with only a single score separating the semi-finalists. UCC were worthy champions and contributed 8 star players with Mary Immaculate College (3), DCU DE (2), NUI Galway (1) and GMIT (1) claiming the rest of the spoils.
After an extremely successful year for 3rd Level GAA and with the ever-increasing standard, these Electric Ireland HE GAA Rising Stars are truly the heroes of tomorrow.
Congratulating the winners, Uachtarán John Horan said: “Over the last number of years it has become a real statement of intent from young players involved at third level football and hurling championships that the form they show here is a sign of things to come at inter-county level.
“Indeed, many of those chosen here have already embarked on senior inter-county careers and are making headlines. I’ve no doubt more of these names will follow them in the years to come.
“We are delighted that our third-level institutions, which are rated so highly all over the world for the calibre of young people they help to mould, are so committed to the promotion and playing of our Games and we appreciate that support.
“The Higher Education competitions are of the highest quality and these awards carry a major standing as a result.
“Our thanks to Electric Ireland for their support and we look forward to watching these young heroes continue to develop their talents at club and county level.”
Clare McAllister, Residential Manager for Electric Ireland NI said “We in Electric Ireland have been delighted once again to support these prestigious championships for another year. For those involved in sport at third level, representing their college is special and it is the Higher Education Leagues and Championships that provide this sporting opportunity.
Electric Ireland wished to bring to the fore through the First Class Rivals campaign, the unique aspect of the Championships which sees rivals at County level, coming together in College with one goal – to win the highly coveted Fitzgibbon or Sigerson trophies. Through our campaign we sought to raise the profile of these wonderful competitions and celebrate the meaning and the emotion attached to the games.
The Electric Ireland HE GAA Rising Star Awards offer a fantastic opportunity to recognise exceptionally talented players across the country for their enviable dedication to their sport but also to their third level institution.
Electric Ireland wishes to congratulate not only the Hurling and Football Teams of the Year but also the 7,000 students who took part in the Championships, making it a huge success and a thrill to follow.”