The best club players of the last ten years

WHO were the best club players of the decade?

Tuesday, 5th January 2010, 9:29 am
Updated Tuesday, 5th January 2010, 2:11 pm

Armagh’s successes at senior, under-21 and minor level over the past decade have kept the county amongst the top ranking competitors on the All-Ireland stage.

Meanwhile many unsung heroes who turn out week after week for their clubs and expect no reward from bodies like the GPA, have provided the life blood for an organisation of which the vast majority are volunteers.

All of the seven local clubs from the greater Lurgan/Craigavon area have been kept afloat by a constant conveyor belt of players but, in many cases, real leadership has come from individuals who were always prepared to go the extra mile.

Choosing the ‘Generals’ from local clubs could open up many debates but the following are the ‘MAIL’S’ outstanding club players from the past decade, 2000 to 2009.

Paul Brady (St. Peter’s) - Without a doubt the Whites’ outstanding player of the past 10 years who even surpasses the sterling efforts of Conor and David Wilson.

Although such players as Keith Totten and Gary Magennis have been in top form over shorter periods, Paul Brady’s unquenchable desire to play for his club has gained him many admirers over the years.

St. Peter’s official Lawrence O’Connor said: “I don’t think too many people would argue with this choice. Paul was like Brian McGeown in a way. You wouldn’t find a more honest player, a constant candidate for player of the year who trains hard and works hard”.

Shane McConville (St. Paul’s) - Despite playing the majority of his football in the earlier half of the decade, he was every manager’s dream player.

He played for St Paul’ s in the second and third divisions but never wavered during bad times. A superb motivator who, importantly, always led by example on the field of play. Although involved in the management of Clann ireann Shane has been instrumental in the well oiled youth structures in Taghnevan.

Barry John O’Hagan (Clan Na Gael) - Arguably the best club player in Armagh over the past decade. Although not enjoying the glittering county career of his club colleague Diarmaid Marsden, O’Hagan was far and away the Clans’ highest scoring midfielder ever.

Bringing a cutting edge to the Francis Street club’s play from an early age, alongside Gareth McCaugherty and Mark O’Hagan, Barry John would be up with McKinstry, Smith and McKerr in the Clans all-time greats.

Conor Coleman (Wolfe Tones) - The silky skills of Conor Greene and the enterprise of Finnian Moriarty, who has a lot of mileage left on the clock, have made headlines with the Tones, but Conor Coleman’s last decade has shaped him as the club’s most outstanding player in recent times.

A sentiment agreed with by his fellow clubman Patsy Magee who said: “Conor Coleman was a dependable and ever-present player for the Tones. Even when carrying an injury he would stay on the field for as long as possible. Conor was a model of consistency.”

Mark Reynolds (Sarsfields) - Twenty years after he first joined the Sarsfields senior squad, during the Hoops’ Senior Championship winning year, Mark Reynolds is still the best overall player at the Highmoss club.

At times he balanced a junior soccer career with his role with the Sarsfields. Pace and versatility were always in abundance for the league winning captain whose balance and skill always provide him with space on the ball.

He could prove the catalyst, even in his mid-thirties, to bring young talents like Thomas McAlinden, Paul McGeown and Coin Stevenson through to senior level.

Stephen Burns (ire g) - Mr Consistency for the gs throughout his playing career, he was part of the Pinebank side’s success in the Intermediate Championship in 2000 alongside Damien Horisk, Gerard Reid, Dara Edwards and Terry O’Hagan.

Stephen has been a crucial part of his team’s strategy over the past decade and has been role model for young players at the Craigavon club.

Mark Beattie (Clann ireann) - An automatic choice on every club manager’s team, aged 34 he stood out at the county trials in the pre-Christmas period but certainly doesn’t need to prove himself after many years of ‘true grit’ for Clann ireann.

Ryan Henderson has, on many occasions, grabbed the headlines with his scoring feats, but Beattie has been the driving force behind the Clanns for at least a decade.