Belfast Telegraph

Monday 14 July 2014

Triple Stars bonanza now lights up Ulster

McCloy, Bradley and Freeman land awards

A year that delivered a generous ration of encouragement for both Derry and Monaghan on the field of play has suddenly provided a triple bonanza of indivdual bonuses that have sparked celebrations.

Derry duo Kevin McCloy and Paddy Bradley along with Monaghan's scoring machine Tommy Freeman have been included in the Vodafone Allstars Football side - a fitting reward for their majestic contributions to their respective teams campaigns this year.

It was at last night's glittering banquet in the CityWest Hotel, Dublin that the Ulster trio were honoured in style.

While McCloy's elevation to the Allstar ranks was not totally unexpected given his towering performances at full-back, Bradley's inclusion marks a well-deserved reward for sustained excellence in his county's attack.

No stranger to disappointment on the Allstar front in the past, today Bradley is rightly basking in the euphoria of the biggest personal fillip of his lengthy career.

And for Thomas Freeman, selection for the Allstars side brings the curtain down on what has been a truly memorable year in Monaghan's colours.

Freeman's individuality has perhaps epitomised Monaghan's football philosophy - - bright, breezy, positive and adventurous.

His scoring exploits coupled with his work ethic not only helped to bring Monaghan into the last twelve of the All Ireland title race but cemented the belief that Seamus McEnaney's side may land an Ulster title in the short term rather than in the long trem.

All Ireland champions Kerry, of course, have taken the lion's share of places in the Allstars team.

Pat O'Shea's side collected six awards with the O'Se trio - Marc, Tómas and Dara - becoming the first three brothers to make the side together.

Kerry's dominance of the Allstars merely adds further decoration to their status as the best team in the country by a distance - although Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney might just take issue with that!

Stephen Cluxton, Barry Cahill, Ciaran Whelan and Alan Brogan are the Dublin players to have made the side while Cork's Graham Canty and Meath's Stephen Bray also in the line-up.

And just as Kerry reigned supreme on the football front, Kilkenny have confirmed their status as the real hurling superpower both individually and collectively.

Six of their players - Michael Kavanagh, Jackie Tyrell, Tommy Walsh, James 'Cha' Fitzpatrick, Henry Shefflin and Eddie Brennan - have been included in the Vodafone Hurling Allstars side.

For Shefflin and Walsh, these latest awards are particularly significant.

Shefflin's award is his sixth on the trot and he has now passed the five-in-a-row achieved by an elite group.

And Walsh has set a record of his own.

Not only has he amassed five successive Allstar awards but he has won them all in different positions.

His selection at right-half-back comes after previous endorsements of his towering talent at left-half-back (2006), left half-forward (2005), left-full-back (2004) and midfield (2003).

Waterford landed five Hurling Allstars with Ken McGrath, Tony Browne, Michael Walsh, Dan Shanahan and Stephen Molumphy all deservedly making the cut after helping their team to the National League title and the Munster crown.

Tipperary have just one player in the side - full-back Declan Fanning - but Cork have not a single representative in the line-up which includes Limerick trio Brian Murray (goalkeeper), Ollie Moran (centrethreequarters) and Andrew O'Shaughnessy (right-full-forward).

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