If there was a transfer market in the GAA, who would your county acquire? Brian Ryle discusses potential targets for the top counties.
The beginning of Sky Sports’ coverage of Gaelic Games has added a new element of professionalism to hurling and football. Perhaps it has set into motion, the process of leading our games into a pay-for-play basis. While this would arguably rob the sense of mystique and pride that comes with donning your county jersey and playing for the proud of the parish, there isn’t a GAA fan countrywide that wouldn’t be excited by the prospect of a transfer market in our games.
The novel excitement of watching Jim White report on all the happenings from Páirc Uí Chaoimh to Casement Park as counties wheel and deal throughout the final day of the window would add a new dimension to Gaelic Games. We delve into an imaginary world and assess who the top counties could recruit from the chasing pack in the battle for Sam.
Signing: David Givney (Cavan)
The standard bearers in the modern era, the difficult question for opposing teams to answer is where are the Dubs weakest?
Cian O’ Sullivan produced a powerful second half when switched to his more natural centre back role in the All-Ireland semi-final last September, but has been utilised mainly as a partner to Michael Darragh MacAuley in the middle. Restoring O’Sullivan permanently back to the number six spot and bringing in a second midfielder could prove the tonic to make the All-Ireland Champions even more imperious.
Cavan’s David Givney would complement the current footballer of the year perfectly. Tall and rangy with a great engine, Givney can kick a score if afforded the opportunity. Arguably better in the air than the Dublin man, a midfield partnership of the two would be difficult to equal.
Signing: Jamie Clarke (Armagh)
Mayo’s old failing has always been lacking that marquee forward who could be relied on in the big games. While Cillian O’Connor is showing signs of possibly one day reaching that level, Mayo’s immediate need in any potential transfer window would be to recruit such a player. Armagh’s Jamie Clarke possesses the impish quality and skill as well as the personality to perform when he is needed most. With a similar style to the Gooch and at just 24 years of age, he wouldn’t come cheap but would be worth the investment.
Signing: Kevin McKernan (Down)
Since Graham Canty’s retirement, Cork have lacked a presence in the centre back spot. Many different options have been tried but none have had the same influence as the Bantry Blues man. Current occupant of the number six jersey, the classy Patrick Kelly, is much more at home in the half forward line and his deployment as anchor of the defence is very much a ‘needs must’ situation.
Down’s Kevin McKernan would prove a more than able solution. The former All Star nominee burst onto the scene as a top quality defender during the Mourne men’s march to the All-Ireland decider in 2010. Equally as comfortable on the wing, McKernan is one of the most consistent performers in the game and would be a welcome addition for most county sides.
Signing: James Kielt (Derry)
Many now regard Monaghan as genuine All-Ireland contenders. The Ulster champions have developed nicely as a unit and are on course to retain the Anglo Celt cup, to go with the Division Two League title they won in impressive fashion in April.
In Conor McManus, they possess one of the best forwards in the country, who if provided with enough quality ball, can cause serious damage. A playmaker in the ilk of Derry’s James Kielt would fit the bill nicely. Strong and stylish with a sweet left foot, Kielt has the accuracy to both provide a platform for McManus to thrive and kick scores from distance.
Signing: Andy McDonnell (Louth)
The loss of Mark McHugh earlier on this season left Donegal facing an unexpected dilemma. In their high intensity, relentless system, McHugh’s role was vital. Always on the move, always buzzing, the diminutive half forward acted as both a workhorse and a link man. A man who could go some way towards filling McHugh’s boots is Louth’s Andy McDonnell.
Perhaps not as well known outside the county as his performances merit, McDonnell was part of the Louth side wrongly denied the 2010 Leinster title. While always likely to contribute a score or two, McDonnell goes through an amount of selfless work for his county. Mobile and athletic, he would have little trouble adjusting to the Donegal style.
Signing: Kevin Reilly (Meath)
For years, The Kingdom’s Achilles heel has been finding a dominant linchpin at full back. Seamus Moynihan, Mike McCarthy and Tommy Griffin have filled the role with distinction but were all much more comfortable out the field and out of necessity were placed at number three.
Mark Griffin is not yet considered the finished article and so Marc O’Sé finds himself confined at the edge of his square once again. Meath’s Kevin Reilly has the credentials to be a potential signing. A physically intimidating presence who is composed in possession, Reilly often doesn’t get the credit his performances deserve.
Signing: Niall McNamee (Offaly)
With Stephen O’Neill no longer the top class forward he once was, Kyle Coney flattering to deceive and Darren McCurry not ready to shoulder the burden of expectation on his own, Tyrone could do with bringing in a high quality inside forward to boost their ranks. For the last decade, Niall McNamee has been one of the most dangerous and natural forwards in the country. With a style similar to that of the great Maurice Fitzgerald, his performances have been the only highlight throughout a dreadful era for Offaly football. He would certainly integrate into Tyrone’s style of play where star forwards, from Frank McGuigan to Peter Canavan, have always been made the fulcrum of the side.
Read More About: andy mcdonnell, armagh gaa, cork gaa, david givney, derry gaa, donegal gaa, down gaa, gaa transfer market, graham canty, james kierlt, jamie clarke, kevin mckernan, kyle coney, mark mchugh, mayo gaa, monaghan gaa, niall mcnamee, offaly gaa, patrick kelly, stephen o'neill