It was the only time in the last 50 years that Antrim football could boast of being ahead of Dublin, Tyrone, Armagh, Kildare, Donegal, Monaghan and 17 others while being equal with Kerry, Mayo, Meath, Cork, Sligo, Down. Only Offaly and Galway were ahead of them.
The eagerly anticipated announcement of the inaugural All Stars football team in 1971 brought great joy to Antrim when Andy McCallin was chosen at right full-forward. Nine counties were represented, led by All-Ireland finalists Offaly (4) and Galway (4) while seven counties had one each.
McCallin’s selection was a big boost for Antrim, who were doing reasonably well around that time. They reached the 1970 Ulster final – their last appearance until 2009 – losing to Derry, who also beat them in the 1971 Ulster championship.
McCallin’s wider exposure came in the Railway Cup where he won a title in 1971 in a full-forward line that also included Seán O’Neill (Down) and Gene Cusack (Cavan).
A dual star, who also played with the hurlers until the mid-1970s, his Antrim football career ended near the end of the decade when he moved to Limerick.
He made an impression there too, especially with the footballers.
McCallin also had one outing with Limerick hurlers, giving him the unusual distinction of having played both codes for two different counties.
The Belfast native remains Antrim’s only football All Star. Alternating between Divisions 3 and 4 and competing in a fiercely competitive Ulster championship presents few opportunities for their players to push past rivals from stronger counties who enjoy higher profiles.
Antrim have received just two All Star football nominations in the past 20 years, goalkeeper, Seán McGreevy (left) in 2000 and attacker, Michael McCann in 2009. They are ranked fourth and ninth respectively in our top 20.
Gerry McCann, who first came to prominence alongside his good friend McCallin in 1969 when Antrim won the All-Ireland U-21 title, takes second place, followed by John McKiernan, a powerhouse performer in the 1970s/80s.
1. Andy McCallin, 2. Gerry McCann, 3. John McKiernan, 4. Seán McGreevy, 5. Tony McAtamney, 6. JP O’Kane, 7. Paddy Cunningham, 8. John Burns, 9. Michael McCann, 10. Donal Laverty, 11. Seán Kelly, 12. Ciarán Hamill, 13. Kevin Madden, 14. Justin Crozier, 15. Aidan Hamill, 16. Kevin Niblock, 17. Jim McCorry, 18. Frank Fitzsimons, 19. Mickey Darragh, 20. Alex McQuillan
You can send your own top 20 list, as well as any issues or disagreements you might have with our rankings, to email@example.com
Click on your county below: