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Odhran merits big game award boost

By John Campbell

Donegal ace Odhran MacNiallais has received the perfect boost ahead of Sunday's Ulster championship football final against Tyrone.

The 23-year-old Gweedore utility player, who can play either at midfield or in attack, has just taken delivery of the Quinn Building Products Ulster GAA Writers Association monthly merit award for June.

It was a commanding performance in the win over Fermanagh, which he highlighted with two spectacular goals, and another major contribution in the drawn semi-final against Monaghan that placed MacNiallais head and shoulders above his rivals for the accolade.

"This is a great honour and I appreciate it very much," said MacNiallais, who is certain to be handed a key role against a Tyrone side particularly keen to end a six-year Ulster title famine.

"Team awards are great but to get a personal honour like this is really special. It is a big lift going into the Ulster final. It is going to be a real tough test for us. Tyrone have without doubt been the form team this year to date and they will be buoyed by their success in reaching this final."

To win the writers' award he had to beat off strong challenges from Tyrone's Ronan O'Neill and Monaghan's Karl O'Connell, with Rosemary Courtney from the Monaghan ladies football side and Tyrone hurler Lawrence Cunningham also in the mix.

MacNiallais was presented with his merit award of an engraved Belleek Living vase, specially designed silver cuff links by Garrett Mallon of Carlingford Design House, training gear from O'Neill's International Sportswear and a medical kit bag from 3FiveTwo, on behalf of Kingsbridge Private Hospital.

The presentation was made by Quinn Building Products Sales & Marketing Director for Ireland Seamus McMahon at a reception in Donegal County Council Offices in Lifford.

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