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Allstar inclusion a boost for disappointed Tyrone stars

By John Campbell

Three players who were in the Tyrone side that lost to Mayo in this year's All-Ireland minor football final have been provided with some measure of compensation now that they are named as Ulster Colleges Allstars.

Conor McKenna, Lee Brennan and Cathal McShane are all included in the Allstars team which encompasses just two players from current MacRory Cup and Hogan Cup holders St Patrick's College Maghera in Cathal Mulholland and Danny Tallon.

The Tyrone trio made a major contribution to their county's progress over the year and although no silverware was collected, manager Mickey Donnelly feels that the experience they gained can be deployed to good effect in 2014.

"It's encouraging to see these lads honoured by the Ulster Colleges Allstars selectors," maintains Donnelly. "I could not have asked for more from my team this year and there is no doubt that the standard of college football in Ulster is a contributory factor to the quality of the minor teams which are produced at county level."

Indeed, Cathal McShane makes his own piece of sporting history as he becomes the first-ever player from Holy Cross Strabane to win a Colleges Allstar.

There are also first awards for two other Tyrone schools St Ciaran's College Ballygawley and Holy Trinity College Cookstown.

These two schools only stepped up to the Ulster Colleges sector from the Vocational Schools sphere this year and wasted no time making their presence felt.

Ryan McAnespie becomes the first student from St Ciaran's to win an Allstar and was an Ulster league and championship winner with Monaghan this year.

He is also the playmaker in the Emyvale side which has reached the semi-final of the All-Ireland junior football championship.

Jason Rocks makes history by becoming the first player from Holy Trinity to be awarded an Allstar.

He plays his club football with Loup in Derry and was part of the Oak Leaf county minor panel this year.

St Macartan's Monaghan defeated St Patrick's Cavan in the Danske Bank MacCormack Cup final at the start of this month but miss out on the Allstar awards.

There is a familiar name at midfield in the team.

Jarlath Og Burns is the son of Jarlath Burns who led Armagh to the Ulster title in 1999 and has since emerged as a prominent GAA television pundit.

He was recently appointed principal of St Paul's Bessbrook, the school which his son represented with such distinction this year when the team reached the final of the MacRory Cup, only to be narrowly beaten.

Ulster Colleges Allstars Football Team: S Patton (St Eunan's Letterkenny); B Kerr (Our Lady's Castleblayney), S Heffron (St Michael's Castleblayney), J Rocks (Holy Trinity Cookstown); D McAleenan (Abbey CBS), C McManus (St Patrick's Cavan), C Mulholland ( St Patrick's College Maghera); C McShane (Holy Cross College Strabane), J Burns (St Paul's Bessbrook); C Doyle (Abbey CBS), C McKenna (St Patrick's GS Armagh), R McAnespie (St Ciaran's Ballygawley), L Brennan (St Michael's Enniskillen), E McManus (St Michael's Enniskillen), D Tallon (St Patrick's College Maghera).

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