Mickey Murray (Cullyhanna)
Murray’s pace and tenacity makes him stand out as one of the vital players involved in the Cullyhanna set up throughout this decade. He has helped his side make two county finals in 2013 and 2016 but St Patrick’s have just came up short on both accounts, against Crossmaglen and Maghery.
A tough man-marker, Murray has shown his versatility across the back six and has even pushed up further forward to shadow the oppositions main men, like he did successfully in his sides famous semi final victory over Crossmaglen, when Murray found himself at wing half forward taking on Aaron Kernan.
James Morgan (Crossmaglen)
Strong, hard hitting, aggressive and powerful are just some of the words that could be used to describe James Morgan. The Crossmaglen corner back has made a name for himself as one of the tightest, man-markers at both club and county level and quite often gets the better of some of Armagh’s top attackers.
His presence in the Crossmaglen defence cannot be underestimated and he can often find himself in the half back line as well as marshalling the full back position. The 2009 Minor All-Ireland winner has been vital to Crossmaglen’s defence this decade and his ability to restrict the influence of the oppositions best forward is the main component of his game.
Oisin Lappin (Maghery)
Has been an ever present in the Maghery defence and has given many solid performances down through the years. Lappin really made the number three jersey his own this decade and the battle-hardened defender always leaves everything on the line for his side and like the other defensive candidates, he’s also a talented man-marker.
Lappin gave several memorable performances in the 2016 Championship when his side were crowned county champions for the first time ever and did likewise the following year to see Maghery reach back to back finals, but they just missed out on the day to Armagh Harps. Maghery incredibly beat Crossmaglen twice in the championship that year and conceded just one goal across the two games.
Ryan Kennedy (Ballymacnab)
Kennedy has played in all positions bar goalkeeper for The Nab this decade but has really found his position in defence in the last few seasons. His ability to push forward and take a score or create opportunities is important to his side, but it’s his man marking ability that makes him so vital to the Ballymacnab rear-guard.
Last season Kennedy was instrumental in The Round Towers collecting their first ever Senior League title and helped his club make the county final in the last two season, getting the better of some of the best forwards in the county and earning himself a 2018 Club All-Star as well as a starting role in the Armagh team.
Paul McKeown (Crossmaglen)
For the best part of this decade Paul McKeown has been one of the first names on the Crossmaglen team sheet week in, week out. A tenacious and tight marking defender, McKeown has been a real leader for his side down through the years, and led The Rangers to All-Ireland glory in 2011 as captain.
McKeown has been involved in all 8 of Crossmaglen’s Championship winning seasons this decade, and while he did enjoy a stint on the county panel it was in the black and amber jersey where he really excelled.
Mark McConville (Armagh Harps)
McConville was in sensational form when Armagh Harps contested three county finals in four years, eventually winning their first since 1991 in 2016. Comfortable in any position across the back six, McConville usually has the task of picking up his opponent’s danger man and more often than not comes out on top.
Unfortunately for the Harps they came up against a top Crossmaglen side in 2014 and 2015 and suffered huge defeats in consecutive county finals, but McConville was a huge part of a solid defence unit that conceded just one goal in their final three games of their 2017 championship winning season.