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Champion stuff from hurlers Braniff and Hinphey

By John Campbell

Two of Ulster’s leading hurlers Kevin Hinphey (Derry) and Paul Braniff (Down) have been included in the 2010 Christy Ring ‘Champion 15’ side.

The pair turned in consistently outstanding performances for their counties in the Christy Ring Cup with Dungiven clubman Hinphey a pillar of the Oak Leaf side and Braniff’s accuracy underpinning Down’s campaign.

Both Hinphey and Braniff have represented Ulster in the inter-provincial hurling championship in the past and the former is also an accomplished footballer.

He has worn the Derry jersey in this code as well.

Armagh won the Nicky Rackard Cup this year by beating London in a thrilling final at Croke Park and their achievement has been marked by the inclusion of four of their players — Paul McCormack, Barry Breen, Ryan Gaffney and Paul Gaffney — in the Nichy Rackard ‘Champion 15’ line-up.

Ryan Gaffney epitomised Armagh’s spirit over the course of the season and said that the players’ inclusion was a reflection of the team’s overall consistency.

“Anything that Armagh achieved was through a team effort. Maybe those of us who have been lucky enough to be included in this ‘Champion 15’ could be said to have landed an end of year bonus but it’s the Armagh squad as a whole that deserves real praise,” says Gaffney.

Damien Maguire (Tyrone) and Paul Murphy (Monaghan) also made the side, Maguire’s inclusion compensating for Tyrone’s depressing itinerary in the competition when they lost several matches by considerable margins.

In the Lory Meagher ‘Champion 15’ side the enterprising James McGrath from the South Down team deservedly earned his inclusion in the line-up.

South Down only came into being a few years ago but have since emerged as a vibrant hurling force.

Fermanagh pair Mark Slevin and Barry Smith also made the team as did Cavan’s Cormac Nelligan as well as Donegal trio Mark Patton, Ardal McDermott and Paul O’Brien.

The inclusion of Ulster players in all three teams has already been hailed by Ulster Council officials, particularly president Aoghan Farrell who has closely aligned himself with the promotion of hurling.

Belfast Telegraph

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