As the Derry minor team prepare for the All-Ireland Minor Football Final on Sunday we take a look at the three players who have been nominated for Electric Ireland’s Minor Star Awards 2017.
After Sunday’s final a Minor Football “Team of the Year” chosen by GAA legend Oisin McConville will be announced, on which Derry are expected to feature strongly for their role in the Oak Leaf county's unbeaten Championship run.
So far three have been nominated but with selection also based on the discrepancy of McConville, it is expected that more Derry Stars will feature.
The awards were launched by McConville and Dónal Óg Cusack earlier this year to highlight the skill and commitment given by both footballers and hurlers playing at Minor level. The Minor football “Team of the Year” will be announced on September 25th with the Electric Ireland GAA Minor Star Awards taking place on October 7th in Croke Park.
The first nominee for the Derry team came via public vote on Electric Ireland’s Facebook page and it was a fitting reward for a scintillating performance from Derry’s Ben McCarron.
Starting the year on the bench, McCarron then made a big impact against Tyrone in an impressive win for the Oak Leafers, McCarron was rewarded with a start the following round against Antrim in the Ulster semi-final.
That game went as many pundits had expected with a comfortable win for the Derry team and the Steelstown clubman secured his own nomination for the Electric Ireland GAA Minor Star Awards when the public chose him as their Player of the Week after his three-point haul.
McCarron has become a staple of the Derry forward line since and, after securing five points against Dublin in the semi-final, is likely to play a key role this Sunday.
The second nominee for Derry came through a similar story arc as their first. Lorcan McWilliams scored three points in Derry’s opener against Tyrone - a strong showing by any account.
The fact McWilliams did so having come off the bench at half-time is testament to the skill he has in abundance. It was not however until his dominating display against Dublin in the Electric Ireland Minor semi-final that saw him awarded with the Man of the Match award and a nomination for the Electric Ireland GAA Minor Star Awards.
The Swatragh native came away with five points that day including a spectacular effort on his left foot in front of the Hogan stand and is rightly named as a nominee for the awards. If he replicates that performance again on Sunday Kerry will struggle to stay in touch.
Derry’s final nominee was never really in doubt. Having suffered bitter disappointment following last year’s Ulster Final defeat Padraig McGrogan has been in commanding form this year and has now captained his side to Ulster success and an All-Ireland showdown with the Kingdom.
The Newbridge man led by example in his side’s dismantling of Cavan in the Ulster Final and was rewarded the Electric Ireland Man of the Match award for his efforts. With all Man of the Match winners automatically nominated for the Electric Ireland GAA Minor Star Awards in October he is now shortlisted with both Ben and Lorcan and will be confident of taking that form into this year’s All-Ireland Minor Final.
No doubt garnered by the frustration of last year, McGrogan has been one of Derry’s most versatile players roaming at will between half back and midfield whilst regularly popping up to slot the ball over the bar at the other end.
The Electric Ireland Minor Star Awards take place on October 7th in Croke Park. As Damien McErlain’s team prepares for the county’s first Minor Final in a decade he’ll be looking for more Star performances from his Oak Leafers as they seek All-Ireland success on Sunday.