RYAN MCHUGH was Donegal’s match winner on Saturday night in Newry.
The Kilcar man fired home two goals and was named Man of the Match as Donegal won 3-15 to 0-7.
McHugh has now scored seven goals for the county and was described on Monday by Irish Daily Star GAA reporter Karl O’Kane as ‘the best player in the country without an All-Star’.
O’Kane wrote: “He has few peers in terms of his incisions into games, scoring two goals against Down at the weekend on searing overlaps.”
In 2014, McHugh was overlooked for an All-Star despite being Man of the Match in the Ulster final against Monaghan and the All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin.
He was named Young Player of the Year, but missed out on an All-Star.
Here’s a look at an unlucky 13 – a selection of players from 1992 to now who might have been All-Stars.
MCHUGH’S goals on Saturday night in Newry take his tally since his debut against Down in February 2013 to seven.
McHugh famously scored two goals against Dublin in the epic 2014 All-Ireland semi-final, won by Donegal.
McHugh’s knack of getting in for goals has become a real feature of Donegal’s play. His pace and in-game intelligence mean he’s one of Donegal’s key figures.
He netted three times last year, with a Championship qualifier goal against Galway following Allianz League goals against Tyrone and Kerry.
Manus Boyle (pictured above)
WITH 28 minutes remaining in the All-Ireland semi-final of 1992, Donegal manager Brian McEniff handed Noreen Doherty, then county secretary, a slip of paper with Manus Boyle’s name upon it.
Donegal and Mayo were in a tight battle and Donegal needed inspiration. Declan Bonner and Martin McHugh had little joy with frees that day, but Boyle came on and converted three frees as Donegal won by four points, 0-13 to 0-09.
For the All-Ireland final against Dublin, McEniff kept faith with Boyle – and the Killybegs man repaid him in spades. Boyle hit nine points on that never-to-be-forgotten Sunday when Sam, finally, came to the Hills.
RECENTLY announced a U-turn on his decision of last January to retire from inter-county football and played in Newry on Saturday night.
The St Eunan’s man made his Donegal debut in 2001, but had to wait until 2006 for his first Championship star. Kavanagh scored a cracking goal that day against Down in Ballybofey.
In 2012, Kavanagh had a superb summer as Donegal won the All-Ireland. Was an All-Star nominee that year, but was beaten to a gong by team-mate Neil Gallagher and Cork’s Aidan Walsh.
IN BOTH 2012 and 2014 the Gaoth Dobhair man was said to have been extremely unlucky to miss out on an All-Star. His brother, Neil, won All-Stars in both years.
Although beaten for goals against Cork and Kerry in the 2012 Championship, they were the exception rather than the rule and he ran Michael Murphy close for Man of the Match in the 2012 All-Ireland final against Mayo.
Had a fine campaign again in 2014 and is still a pivotal figure in Donegal’s defence.
THE mercurial Devenney was handed his Championship debut by Declan Bonner in 1998. He played in the Championship until 2005 and returned again in 2007. Flirted with glory, but success eluded him.
At the peak of his powers, formed a lethal partnership with Adrian Sweeney and played in the All-Ireland quarter-final of 2002 and the semi-final of 2003.
A RED card against Cavan in 1990 denied Bonner an All-Star. In those days, a sending off meant that the player wasn’t eligible to win an All-Star. Bonner was on fire in ’90, too, and the flame-haired Na Rossa man was on song in the year of years, 1992, as well.
Missed out on an All-Star Award that year, but scored four points against Dublin in the final and his clenched-fist salute to the Donegal masses in the Hogan Stand remains one of the iconic Donegal GAA images of all time.
GO BACK to that golden moment from 2012 and Michael Murphy’s goal in the All-Ireland final against Mayo. The frame starts to roll with Anthony Thompson stationed 30 metres from his own goal as Rory Kavanagh gathers possession.
When Kavanagh off-loads to Karl Lacey, Thompson is adjacent to him and he breaks into a gallop as Lacey strides neatly into the Mayo half.
By the time Murphy is rising to make that perfect catch and lashing the ball past David Clarke, Thompson is the nearest Donegal man to him. In fact, when the Donegal captain spins away it is Thompson who is first to embrace him.
It was a move that showed Thompson’s worth to the team.
“He’ll make that run ten times in a game and, here’s the thing, he won’t get caught out,” former Naomh Conaill manager Cathal Corey said of Thompson, a replacement All-Star for the trip in 2014.
HEGARTY came out of retirement in 2011 to finally get his mits on the lugs of the Anglo-Celt. Having retired from inter-county football, Jim McGuinness coaxed him back and he enjoyed a good year in 2011.
He played his last game for Donegal as a sub in that year’s infamous All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin.
Hegarty made his Championship debut against Armagh in 1999 under Declan Bonner and he played over 100 games for the county.
His Donegal career spanned three decades and five managers – Declan Bonner, Mickey Moran, Brian McEniff, Brian McIver, John Joe Doherty and McGuinness.
In his pomp, Hegarty was graceful and remains one of the finest players to wear the number 11 shirt.
ARDARA man made his Championship debut in 1996 against Down and he played in his last Championship match in the green and gold 10 years later, as a sub in the Ulster final defeat to Armagh at Croke Park. Diver made 36 Championship appearances for Donegal and played in four Ulster finals – coming out on the wrong side of them all, in 1998, 2002, 2004 and 2006.
THE MINDS still go back to the baby-faced Toye cracking home a magnificent goal against Armagh in the 2003 All-Ireland semi-final.
The St Michael’s man would be a contender for any ‘Best of’ list spanning Donegal’s generations.
No Donegal man has scored more Championship goals than Toye’s five at Croke Park, his first coming against Meath in 2002
Has had some injury nightmares, but Toye remains a central piece in Rory Gallagher’s jigsaw.
Playing for Civil Service, Ballyshannon man John Duffy came onto the scene in 1993 as a sub in the Ulster semi final against Armagh.
He played in the drenching defeat to Derry that year and, five years later, he played on the team that lost the decider, again to the Oak Leaf.
Regarded as one of the best talents of his era.
IT IS one of the great mysteries – how Barry McGowan’s inter-county career ended without an All-Star is anyone’s guess.
McGowan was so versatile it could be said that he was before his time.
The Killybegs man was comfortable anyway but it was in playing him at corner-back for the ’92 semi against Mayo that was one of Brian McEniff’s greatest moves.
McGowan had vision, precision, poise and balance, all in abundance. Was on the Donegal Team of The Millenium but his career ended without an All-Star.
A REAL fans’ favourite, Roper played from 1996 until 2009 when he featured in the All Ireland quarter final hammering to Cork. The Aodh Ruadh man was a terrier and his effort in the Donegal jersey never waned over the years.
Won the NFL Division 1 title, but Championship success escaped him. Held the all-time appearances record – 159 – until last year when Colm McFadden overtook him.Tags: