Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport GAA

Team profiles

By Staff Reporter

Antrim - Management: Frankie Fitzsimmons has decided he is better off with some help for his second year, bringing in Gearoid Adams as co-manager. Former boxing champion Brian Magee took over from Mick McGurn for the strength and conditioning work.

Form Guide: WWWWL - Promoted to Division Three as Division Four finalists, losing the final to Louth.

Key Man: Michael McCann will float between his bearings at full-forward and midfield.

Captain: St Gall’s creator Kevin Niblock has shipped numerous knocks but played through the pain barrier.

Big Loss: Sean Burke is struggling with injury.

Bookie’s Odds: 150/1 for Ulster, 1,500/1 to win the All-Ireland. No Leicester story.

VERDICT: Preliminary round exit. Hoping for a favourable qualifiers draw.


Management: Kieran McGeeney is in his second year as head honcho, and is assisted by Peter McDonnell and Denis Hollywood. Julie Davis remains as strength and conditioning coach.

Form Guide: WLDDW - Relegated to Division Three.

Key Man: As boldly promised, Stefan Campbell has emerged as ‘the man’ in the absence of others. His injury-free run has helped showcase his talents.

Captain: Ciaran McKeever has played very little, but is still the leader of this group.

Big Loss: Jamie Clarke taking his talents to New York is a serious blow.

Bookie’s Odds: 18/1 to win Ulster, 150/1 for the All-Ireland. Keep your money in your pocket.

VERDICT: Can’t see them surviving their visit to Kingspan Breffni Park.


Management: Terry Hyland is the second-longest inter-county football manager behind Mickey Harte, with five Championship seasons in sole charge after his collaboration with Val Andrews.

Form Guide: WWWWL - Promoted to Division One.

Key Man: Killian Clarke is the kind of play-anywhere athlete that every county envies.

Captain: Gearoid McKiernan has been released to centre-forward and when he plays well, he raises the performance of all around him.

Big Loss: Barry Reilly was a huge hope but only Kingscourt are benefiting. 

Bookie’s Odds: Dark horses at 7/1 for an Ulster title and we wouldn’t put it beyond them, 100/1 for All-Ireland.

VERDICT: Could meet Tyrone in an Ulster semi-final, and it depends on what they have learned from their league final loss. Dangerous.


Management: Damian Barton is in his first year in charge and has Brian McGuckin and Tony Scullion as selectors, while Eoghan Bradley looks after the muscle end of things.

Form Guide: LLDDL - Survived in Division Two.

Key Man: Mark Lynch has a galvanising effect on those around him.

Captain: Chris McKaigue. If you need a job done well, you give it to a busy man. Between club and county and hurling commitments, there are no concerns over his match sharpness.

Big Loss: He might just be a casualty of the commitments required for inter-county football, but any team could do with a fully-firing Eoin Bradley.

Bookie’s Odds: A remarkably tight-priced 7/1 for Ulster, 66/1 for Sam Maguire. Best avoided.

VERDICT: Derry need unity and an extended run in the back-door after defeat to Tyrone on May 22.


Management: Rory Gallagher enters his second year as boss after three years as assistant to Jim McGuinness. Jack Cooney and Maxi Curran are his selectors.

Form Guide: LLLLL - Division One semi-finalists.

Key Man: As ever, it is Michael Murphy. The games he doesn’t play tend to be the ones Donegal lose.

Captain: The same Murphy is now in his sixth season as Donegal captain, and it’s not hard to see why.

Big Loss: Paul Durcan’s presence in Qatar really could make the difference between this squad challenging for an All-Ireland or just hoping for honours.

Bookie’s Odds: Joint-favourites with Tyrone for Ulster at 9/4, but 20/1 for Sam is on the high end of the scale for a side that were in the final two years ago.

VERDICT: Horrible form, but have enjoyed the long break. Top contenders for Ulster, but that’s it.


Management: Eamonn Burns is in his debut season, having served as selector for James McCartan in previous years. Aidan Branigan and Gerard Colgan are selectors.

Form Guide: LLLLL - Relegated from Division One.

Key Man: With Benny Coulter and Conor Laverty gone from the scene, Down require a big summer from Mark Poland.

Captain: It’s hard to believe that Kevin McKernan is only 28 now, and how little reward his county career has brought him.

Big Loss: Take your pick between Laverty and Coulter. Both brought a lot to the party, but don’t seem interested.

Bookie’s Odds: 20/1 for Ulster, 400/1 for the ultimate. If burning money is your thing, get on it.

VERDICT: Impossible to imagine them winning in Clones against Monaghan and hard to tell if they would have the stomach to regroup after that.


Management: Two-time All-Ireland winner Pete McGrath is in the third season of his enjoyable managerial Indian Summer. Raymond Johnston is selector while Brian Treacy and Leon Carters are trainers.

Form Guide: LWLDD - Survived in Division Two.

Key Man: If Sean Quigley begins to fire this season, it might be seen as overdue as Tomás Corrigan has handled the bulk of the scoring responsibilities.

Captain: Erne county fans will be praying for the good health of Eoin Donnelly’s hamstring.

Big Loss: Ryan McCluskey’s hip injury will keep him out of the entire summer and his communication and organisation will be missed.

Bookie’s Odds: 33/1 for Ulster and 500/1 for an All-Ireland. Don’t even think about it.

VERDICT: Fermanagh are a coming team, but the draw is stacked against them.


Management: Malachy O’Rourke enters his fourth summer with the Oriel men. His coaching staff includes Leo McBride, Ryan Porter and Finbarr Fitzpatrick.

Form Guide: LLLLW - Survived in Division One.

Key Man: In the last three Ulster finals, Vinny Corey has dominated Donegal’s Michael Murphy. That will need to happen again.

Captain: There is possibly no greater finisher in the game than Conor McManus, and he provides bucket-loads of inspiration.

Big Loss: Eoin Lennon’s retirement due to injury hampers Monaghan for midfield cover.

Bookie’s Odds: Tucked in behind Donegal and Tyrone at 4/1 for Ulster, they are worth a flutter.

VERDICT: Well-balanced, experienced and with an under-rated management, Monaghan can defend their title and go on to reach the All-Ireland final.


Management: It’s the 14th season for the evergreen Mickey Harte. Gavin Devlin is his assistant, while Peter Donnelly takes on the majority of coaching.

Form Guide: WDDWW - Division Two league champions.

Key Man: It’s not a stretch to say that Colm Cavanagh (right) has developed into the most perceptive and alert sweeper in the game.

Captain: Sean Cavanagh is now in his 15th season and is testament to a lifetime of dedication.

Big Loss: Nobody of any great significance, but you sense the squad could do with a Conor Gormley or Ryan McMenamin.

Bookie’s Odds: Joint favourites with Donegal on 9/4 for Ulster and have assumed fourth rank for the All-Ireland at 12/1. Either of those two bets will work up a sweat.

VERDICT: Possible Ulster Champions, but a final against Monaghan is fraught with dangers.

Belfast Telegraph

How to Complain

If you have a complaint about the editorial content of the Belfast Telegraph or Sunday Life then contact the Editor here. If you are not satisfied with the response provided then you can contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation here


From Belfast Telegraph