Team of the Decade – Midfield

James Lavery:

James Lavery has proved himself time and time again in the Maghery jersey. Throughout this decade he has stood out as one of the best ball winning midfielders in the county. An old fashion typed midfielder, Lavery has serious strength in the air and is fetching ability is second to none.

The big midfielder has been a real leader for the Maghery cause for the last 10 years and can defend and attack in equal measures. He was awarded the number 8 jersey in the 2017 Club All-Star team after leading Maghery to back-to-back county finals, collecting his county medal in 2016.

Pauric Gribben:

For over a decade now Pauric Gribben has been the mainstay of Ballymacnab’s centre field and has been one of the best fielders of a ball in the county over the last 10 years. His ability to spring in the air, compete with players bigger than he is, and capture possession is one of the main features of his play.

He can also get forward to score and is great at breaking the lines at pace for his side. He has started all three of Ballymacnab’s Senior Championship Finals this decade, in 2011, 2018 and 2019 as well as helping the Round Towers win the Senior League in 2018.

Decky McKenna

A hugely powerful figure around the centre of the field, McKenna is comfortable playing anywhere across the middle eight, having featured in the half back line, midfield and half forward line for Armagh Harps this decade, although his best position is certainly in the middle of the field.

McKenna can bomb forward when the occasion presents itself while he can also filter back to help out his defence. His accuracy with the outside of his left foot is a key trait of his and his work rate around the middle of the park is quite often unmatched, McKenna is always a great option for kick outs as well.

David McKenna

While McKenna’s involvement in the Crossmaglen panel may have drifted somewhat in recent years, there’s no denying how influential the giant midfielder was for his side this decade, where he helped The Rangers collect 7 county championships and go on to be crowned Ulster champions 6 times and All-Ireland champs twice.

Of all 7 county finals that McKenna featured in this decade, it was only the 2018 and 2012 showpieces against Ballymacnab and the Ogs that he failed to register a score. His two most memorable finals where the ‘two in a row’ victories his side achieved over Armagh Harps, when McKenna struck 1-1 from midfield on both occasions.

Anto Duffy

Like his brother Paul, Anto has seen both the good and the bad days in the green and gold of Pearse Ogs, and is part of a new push to bring the good days back again. Duffy can play both in the middle of the field and anywhere around the half forward line while he can also drift into the full forward position when called upon.

Brilliant in the air, Anto is usually the main target for kick outs on his side while he can do damage on the ground as well and certainly knows where the posts are. Duffy also enjoyed a period within the Armagh squad this decade.

Johnny Hanratty

A cult hero around Crossmaglen, Johnny Hanratty is known for always playing on the edge. His power around the centre of the park is something to be admired while the eye-catching outside of the foot kick passes into the full forward line will always be the stand out feature to Hanratty’s game.

Last year he was rejuvenated and picked up a different role within the team at centre half forward/full forward as well as working around the middle. Hanratty enjoyed a great run of form, picking up his first Club All-Star award and his four points in the county final against Ballymacnab helped the Rangers land their first title in three years.

Malachy Mackin

Whenever Cullyhanna have a problem, they call on Malachy Mackin. Mackin has played everywhere from number 8 up and this year saw himself between the sticks as St Pat’s struggled with their goalkeeper position. A huge fielder of the ball, Mackin’s best years this decade where when he was drifting between midfield and full forward.

He helped his side reach two county finals this decade, playing with number 14 on his back but mostly helping out around the centre of the field. Mackin will be best remembered for punching the ball into the back of Crossmaglen’s net in the last minute of the 2013 semi final as St Pat’s overcame their rivals, with a point to spare.

Charlie Vernon

Vernon has recently hung up the boots for Armagh and will now fully concentrate on club football. Always gives 100% to both club and county and this decade he formed a fantastic partnership with Declan McKenna in the middle of the field for the Harps, one of the best midfield duos in the county.

Three county finals in four years, Vernon started all three and contributed massively to the Harps capturing their first Senior Championship title since 1991. In that 2017 season, he may have wore the number 13 just but was usually found out around the middle doing all the work that needed to be done for his side.

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