Colm McGoldrick captained Coleraine to 2018 glory. (Pic: Mary K Burke)
When Mal (Michael McMullan) asked me if I was interested in selecting a Derry Club 15 of the decade (2010-2019) I thought 'that sounds like a fun way to while away a few hours of social isolation.’
But while I enjoyed taking a trip down memory lane, this turned out to be a much tougher task than I envisaged and it took days rather than hours.
As one might expect there’s a strong representation from multiple John McLaughlin winners Ballinderry, Slaughtneil and Coleraine but I can’t believe some of the players that I have left out.
However, I’m pretty sure that if an imaginary club was able to field this line-out in their prime, they’d not be far off lifting the Andy Merrigan Cup.
1 - Michael Conlan - Ballinderry
A fixture between the sticks for Ballinderry for almost two decades, Mickey C was a good goalkeeper at the start of his career when winning an All-Ireland club medal in 2002. By the 2010s he seemed even better, maintaining a physical condition that would have been the envy of men 10 years his junior and adjusting to a massive transformation in what was expected from a modern goalkeeper. He just edges out Slaughtneil’s Antoin McMullan for the number one jersey.
2 - Karl McKaigue – Slaughtneil
Karl might not be as well know as his elder brother, but he has been just as vital in Slaughtneil’s success. The archetype of the modern defender, who must meld man-marking skills with ability on the ball, McKaigue is often the initiation point for the Emmett’s attack. Has held some of the finest forwards in club football scoreless during Slaughtneil’s rise to national prominence including Conleith Gilligan, Ryan McHugh and Seanie Johnston.
3 - Brendan Rogers Slaughtneil
Another Emmets dual star Rogers, has been the defensive rock on which Slaughtneil’s success has been built. Named Ulster Club footballer of the year for 2016, as a youngster Rogers initially chose to focus on hurling but has established himself as one of the football’s best defenders in not just Derry but Ulster, an automatic pick for this selection.
4 - Ciaran Mullan - Coleraine
A superb athlete whose ball-carrying ability and pace have made him a nightmare for opposing forwards who end up spending much of their time tracking back into their own half. A key man as Coleraine claimed the John McLaughlin Cup for the first time in 2010 and was still a fixture when they claimed their second title in 2018.
5 - Kevin McGuckin - Ballinderry
Another Ballinderry man with an All-Ireland medal in his pocket, the fact he was still making the starting 15 for the Shamrocks in 2019 is testament to his qualities. A Rolls Royce of a footballer the former Derry captain’s experience was crucial as the Loughshore completed a hat-trick of victories between 2011 and 2013.
6 - Oisin Duffy - Foreglen
It’s a measure of Oisin Duffy’s consistent excellence that he makes this selection based on performances in the Intermediate Championship. Could play any position in the backline, his strength and pace made him an effective man marker but equally comfortable in possession. Still as effective as ever as Foreglen claimed the Intermediate crown last October.
7 - Chrissy McKaigue - Slaughtneil
First rose to prominence on the Derry minor side that reached the All-Ireland final in 2007 the current Derry Captain has been a fixture for club and county for a decade. In addition to his evident abilities as a player, McKaigue provides the intangible qualities of leadership that every successful team needs. On the rare occasions that Slaughtneil find themselves floundering McKaigue is the man to whom his team-mates look to steady the ship.
8 - Patsy Bradley - Slaughtneil
Another who’s career has spanned the ages, Patsy Bradley is an icon of Derry football. The quintessential quiet, hard man, Bradley’s aerial prowess rarely fails to catch the eye and his work-rate is immense. Has overcome injuries that might have restricted the career of lesser players Patsy’s toughness is the stuff of legend.
9 - Niall Holly - Coleraine
Strong in the air and extremely mobile. Holly’s ball carrying skills have the been the starting point for countless Eoghan Rua attacks, with his languid style belying and athleticism allows him to glide past opponents. A perfect foil for the combative Bradley.
10 - Enda Muldoon - Ballinderry
One of the most gifted footballers ever to apply a boot to a size five, the Shamrocks man’s gifts appeared to immune to the passing of the years as Ballinderry emulated their 1980s antecedents in winning three in a row from 2011 to 2013. His ball to Raymond Wilkinson for the decisive goal in the 2012 semi-final win over Banagher may be the best pass I have ever seen in club football.
11 - Benny Heron - Ballinascreen
The only man in my team who doesn’t have some form of Championship winners medal to show for his efforts. Heron has been a prolific scorer for a Ballinascreen team that has regularly been in the mix for the John McLaughlin Cup without quite sealing the deal. With his phenomenal work rate and ability to score from both play and placed balls, Heron was a key factor in the St Colm’s club’s run to the 2013 and 2017 county finals.
12 - Sean Leo McGoldrick - Coleraine
The oil that has kept the Coleraine engine running smoothly for a decade. Adaptable players can sometimes be the victims of their own versatility but Sean Leo McGoldrick’s quality is such that every manager in Derry would love to have him in their squad. One Coleraine mentor once told me that the one time in any game when he could relax was when Sean Leo had the ball because he knew it was secure. An incisive runner and an accurate passer the Eoghan Rua man can also chip in with a vital score when the occasion requires.
13 - Coilin Devlin - Ballinderry
The flame-haired front man maybe didn’t have the profile of the other Ballinderry forward in this line-up but his impact for the Shamrocks in the early part of the decade was undeniable, bagged the decisive goal in the 2012 final against Slaughtneil, and scored five points from play to earn man of the match honours in 2013. Dook's pace and direct running made him a handful for opposing corner-backs.
14 - Colm McGoldrick - Coleraine
The second member of the McGoldrick clan to make my team and you could make case for the inclusion of any of the brothers, but Colm is well worth his place. He was the fulcrum of the Eoghan Rua attack as they claimed their first county crown in 2010. The intelligence of his movement is something that can’t be taught. As captain he scored four points in the 2018 final as Coleraine doubled their tally of John McLaughlin Cups.
15 - Shane McGuigan - Slaughtneil
The sharpest shooter in Derry club football in recent year. McGuigan’s scoring tallies speak for themselves scored 2-15 in the 2016 Derry Championship and better that tally with 3-17 in 2017. Performs well on the big stage top scored in the 2016 Ulster final with 0-6 against Kilcoo and bagged 1-6 in 2017’s provincial triumph over Cavan Gaels. Every successful team needs a marquee man in their full-forward line, McGuigan is Slaughtneil’s.
- Michael McMullan's team of the decade (2010-2019) - Click here...
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