Beggan and McManus hit jackpot to net even more awards
We may have reached the twilight of 2018 but still the individual awards come tumbling the way of Monaghan goalkeeper Rory Beggan.
Tomorrow the 26-year-old custodian will be on the trail of yet another honour when he lines out with Scotstown against Gaoth Dobhair in the Ulster senior club championship final at Healy Park, Omagh having just collected what could be deemed an extremely tasty aperitif.
Beggan's outstanding consistency between the posts has already seen him scoop a fourth successive Monaghan championship medal with Scotstown and a coveted All-Star award following a memorable term in his county's colours. But rather than board the flight that took the All-Stars to Philadelphia on Thursday, Beggan was in rather more modest surroundings but delighted to be there to collect his Ulster President's Footballer of the Year award.
Provincial supremo Michael Hasson admits, too, that it was not a particularly difficult choice for him nor was his decision in choosing Neil McManus as his Hurler of the Year an arduous assignment.
"I think we are blessed with superbly talented players in both codes in Ulster and I believe that Rory and Neil are outstanding ambassadors in their respective fields," says Hasson.
McManus was in superb form for Cushendall in winning both the Antrim and Ulster club championship titles and is now looking forward to the team's All-Ireland club semi-final against Connacht side St Thomas's in the New Year.
And while Beggan and McManus collected the playing honours, long-time Derry county board officer Danny Scullion is the recipient of the Ulster President's Lifetime Achievement award.
Scullion, a familiar figure within the Ulster corridors of power for decades, is a former Derry secretary and treasurer and is one of the most respected administrators within the GAA.
There was a special award, too, for the popular John McKillop, so often referred to as 'Cushendall's 16th man'.
John was presented with the Ulster President's award for a person with a disability and indeed Hasson could hardly have chosen a more worthy recipient.
Ulster Council PRO Michael Geoghegan believes the awards reflect all that is good in GAA in the province and points to the massive interest there has been in the recent county championships and in the Ulster club championships at the different levels.
"We have had huge crowds at all our county finals and these were replicated at our Ulster club matches. We will be bringing the curtain down on our season this weekend with the Ulster intermediate football championship final and the senior club final but we will only have time in which to catch our breath before the Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup gets under way on December 30," points out Geoghegan.
Meanwhile, Lavey and Carrickmore will meet in the Paul McGirr Memorial Cup final at Gardrum Park, Dromore tomorrow.
It promises to be an exciting battle between two sides who have shown impressive form in reaching the last hurdle in the competition.
Lavey, managed by former Derry All-Ireland winner Seamus Downey, look to be in pole position following their narrow semi-final win over a very good Burren side. It was the Downey clan who played a leading role in taking their club into the decider with Enda (1-2) and Matthew (1-1) landing all but one of their team's total of 2-4 to which Burren responded with 1-6.
Lavey has proved a rich reservoir of talent for the Derry county team in the past while Carrickmore have provided Tyrone with a tranche of exciting young players in recent times and both the current sides reflect this.
And while the young guns prepare to do battle, there is fresh hope the stars of the past will have a new platform on which to parade their skills. It is understood the popular Masters Football competition is to be fully revived after it faded in 2009 because of insurance reasons.
In the interim some 16 sides took part in a different competition with a strong Dublin team emerging as deserving winners this year.