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Niall McCoy Picks His Armagh Team Of The Last 30 Years

Niall McCoy Picks His Armagh Team Of The Last 30 Years

All summer here on Balls.ie, we're asking you to pick your 15 for 30 from a different county each week. We're looking for the public to vote on the best county XVs from the last 30 years, and this week is all about the footballers of Armagh. Up to now, you've already selected your Donegal, Meath, Waterford, and Tipperary teams of the last 30 years.

With a new poll launching each Monday, the 15 or 30 series also features an accompanying podcast with a personality from the county in question who will give their best team and their reasoning behind the selection.

This week, we're focusing on the Armagh team from 1990 until 2019. Armagh had a very successful run between 1999 and 2008, for the most part under Joe Kernan. This great era in Armagh football saw the county win their only All-Ireland Senior Championship, seven Ulster titles and a National League.

In this week's 15 for 30 podcast, we spoke to Niall McCoy. Niall is an Armagh man and a journalist with the Gaelic Life, a weekly Ulster-based GAA newspaper.

Much of Niall's selection comes from the Joe Kernan team of the early 2000s, with a couple of exceptions from the current Armagh team. Niall says he believes it's tough to consider players who weren't in this brilliant squad.

"There have been boys who have been individually unbelievable on either side of that successful team," he said. "It's often hard to justify boys who haven't won stuff."

A lot of that team's success is a result of a contingent of players from a fantastic Crossmaglen Rangers side that came through at that time. Kernan also came from Crossmaglen to take the reins of the Armagh county team in 2001.

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It is up to the voters, however, to decide if there are any standout players outside this great team that are worthy, in their own right, of a place on Armagh's best 15 of the last 30 years.

You can listen and subscribe to the full podcast here, or you can listen below, and you can vote for your Armagh 15 for 30 below. The winning team will be revealed on Saturday.

You can vote for your team below, or email your team to [email protected], or message us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.


 

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Niall McCoy's 15 for 30:

1. Benny Tierney

Goalkeeper, 1989 - 2002

Honours:

All-Ireland Championship: 2002

Ulster Championship: 1999, 2000, 2002

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2. Enda McNulty

15 for 30

Honours:

All-Ireland Championship: 2002

Ulster Championship: 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008

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All-Star: 2002

 

3. Brendan Donaghy

Fullback/centre-back/midfield, 2007 - present

Honours:

Ulster Championship: 2008

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What Niall said:

"Brendan plays Junior football in Armagh and people often wonder can teams from junior clubs make much of a difference. Donaghy is one of the most consistent players I've ever seen for Armagh. He is absolutely unbelievable, he's incredibly versatile.

You can play him midfield, you can play him centre-half, you could play him full-back, you could play him sweeper. The only blot on his copybook is that he has suffered injuries and we haven't seen enough of him."

 

4. Andy Mallon

15 for 30

Cornerback, 2003 - 2016

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Honours:

Ulster Championship: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008

National League: 2005

All-Ireland U21 Championship: 2004

What Niall said:

"Absolute machine. He came in in '03. To come into an All-Ireland winning team and nail down a starting place and maintain it for the rest of his career, even when he retired and came out of retirement, is unbelievable. [He has] great strength, he's a great reader of the game, great speed. The all-round perfect corner back."

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5. Aidan O'Rourke

Wing back, 2001 - 2009

Honours:

All-Ireland Championship: 2002

Ulster Championship: 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008

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National League: 2005

All-Star: 2002

What Niall said:

"An all-round super halfback, his kick-passing was unbelievable. His assist for the goal in the All-Ireland final is probably the most famous pass in Armagh history."

 

6. Kieran McGeeney

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15 for 30

Centre-back, 1992 - 2007

Honours:

All-Ireland Championship: 1999,

Ulster Championship: 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006

National League: 2005

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Footballer of the Year: 2002

All-Star: 1999, 2000, 2002

 

7. Aaron Kernan

Wingback, 2004 - 2014

Honours:

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Ulster Championship: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008

National League: 2005

All-Ireland U21 Championship: 2004

 

8. Paul McGrane

Midfield, 1993 - 2008

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Honours:

All-Ireland Championship: 2002

Ulster Championship: 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008

National League: 2005

All-Star: 2000, 2005

What Niall said:

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"Paul McGrane is possibly still one of the most underrated players to ever play Ulster football. For me personally, I would McGrane up at [Anthony] Tohill level. He is possibly the most talented player in that 2002 team even with McGeeney there. McGrane was phenomenal. I think Oisín got man-of-the-match [in the 2002 final]. I would have probably given it to McGrane myself.

He had a long career and a lot of success ... I hope, now, people realise just how good Paul McGrane was. He was just top, top class. One of the best midfielders I've ever seen in my life."

 

9. Neil Smyth

Midfield/half-forward/corner-forward, 1984 - 1999

Honours:

Ulster Championship: 1999

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10. Diarmuid Marsden

15 for 30 Wing-forward/corner-forward, 1993 - 2007

Honours:

All-Ireland Championship: 2002

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Ulster Championship: 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006

National League: 2005

All-Star: 1999

What Niall said:

"Looking back, I didn't realise he was Armagh's top-scorer as far back as 1994, which gives you an idea of just how long he was producing for Armagh. He wouldn't have been long out of that minor team that did so well. Marsden is my favourite Armagh player of all time. I don't know what more you could ask from a player."

 

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11. John McEntee

Centre-forward, 1998 - 2007

Honours:

All-Ireland Championship: 2002

Ulster Championship: 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006

National League: 2005

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What Niall said:

"When you watch back the '02 matches, it's unbelievable how McEntee didn't get an All-Star that year. He was absolutely unbelievable. And if you watch the final, Armagh were playing pretty well. Once McEntee went off, it took a good ten minutes before they got anywhere back in their rhythm because they were totally out of sync once he left the field with concussion. They really felt his absence. For me, that really shows how good he was and how important he was to that team.

He was physical, he could pass. He had a great knack for getting goals at important times. Great leader, obviously, as well."

 

12. Oisin McConville

Wing-forward, 1994 - 2008

Honours:

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All-Ireland Championship: 2002

Ulster Championship: 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2008

National League: 2005

All-Star: 2000, 2002

What Niall said:

"The ultimate clutch player. He could be the worst player on the pitch but you'd never in your life take him off because when the game starts to be won, he's the boy that's done it."

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13. Steven McDonnell

Corner-forward, 1999 - 2011

Honours:

All-Ireland Championship: 2002

Ulster Championship: 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008

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National League: 2005

Footballer of the Year: 2003

All-Star: 2002, 2003, 2005

 

14. Ronan Clarke:

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15 for 30 Full-forward, 2001 - 2010

Honours:

All-Ireland Championship: 2002

Ulster Championship: 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008

National League: 2005

All-Star: 2006, 2008

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What Niall said:

"If it wasn't for injury, we would be talking about him being one of the best full-forwards in the history of the game. Two All-Stars. People forget about that second All-Star.

When you say 'unplayable', I always think back to a match, I think it was the semi-final in '08 against Down up in Clones.  In terms of 'unplayable', I think it's the perfect match. I can't remember him wasting one ball. He literally won every ball that came in to him, he laid it off or took a score. It was near-perfection full-forward play."

 

15. Jamie Clarke

Corner-forward, 2009 - present

What Niall said:

"One of the best attacking talents I've seen in a long time. He was fantastic for Armagh last year. He is one of the best finishers when it comes to goals. Jamie hasn't really won anything with Armagh and that's more of a consequence of the era he's playing in.

Would Jamie have made the '02 team? For me, yes, he would've. There aren't many players who have played since that would make the '02 team but I would make a spot for Jamie. Just a class act. When he is there, he's an absolute joy to watch."

 

See Also: Shane McGrath Picks His Tipperary Team Of The Last 30 Years

Ryan Carrick

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