A former Antrim senior player who probably thought that his best playing days were behind him is suddenly thriving in the Indian summer of his career.
Star man: Michael Rea has landed UGAAWA Merit Award
Michael Rea was a member of the Saffrons squad a few years ago while playing with Glenavy prior to returning to his home club Derrytresk.
And when Tyrone champions Derrytresk won the Ulster Junior Championship at the end of November, the 33-year-old utility player proved their hero, scoring 1-2 and deploying his vast experience to telling effect.
So much so, indeed, that his efforts earned him a coveted Quinn Insurance Ulster GAA Writers Association merit award.
“I’m absolutely overwhelmed to have won this award,” beamed Rea, who is an accountant by profession.
“I never thought that I would be in the running as I know there were other great performances during November.
“I am aware of the history of the Merit Award and all the great players who have won it.
“I have seen the pictures in the papers and it is a dream come true for me to be a winner,” he added.
Rea fended off strong challenges from Jamie Clarke of Crossmaglen Rangers and Caroline Little, who was excellent in Lisnaskea’s All-Ireland Ladies’ Intermediate Championship final victory.
But it was Rea who emerged as the deserving winner of the award.
Rea’s prize of an engraved Belleek Living vase, specially designed and engraved silver cuff links from Omeath jeweller Garrett Mallon, training gear from O’Neill’s International Sports and a UGAAWA Sports Voucher was presented to him by UGAAWA chairman JP Graham at a function in Quinn’s Corner.
He will also get two tickets and accommodation for the UGAAWA Silver Jubilee Banquet next year.
Armagh attacker Johnny Murtagh is on the verge of making an inter-county transfer to Louth.
The quality forward, who joined Dublin club Parnells from Crossmaglen this year, was born in Louth and would be a welcome addition to their attack after Armagh boss Paddy O'Rourke told him that he could not guarantee him a starting place.
“I told him I wouldn't be happy to be making the trip to be sitting on the bench,” he said.
"I'd love to be playing inter-county football but Armagh played a very defensive way last year which didn't suit me, and with boys like Stevie McDonnell and Jamie Clarke there, chances are going to be hard to come by.”