Of the 12 All Star awards won by Monaghan, Eugene ‘Nudie’ Hughes and Conor McManus have won six between them in a 3-3 split.
Who comes first? McManus, whose career still has some way to run, is certainly one of the best forwards of his generation, but we have opted for ‘Nudie’ at this stage on the basis of his versatility.
He won All Star awards at right-full back (1979) and left full-forward (1985 and 1988), joining an exclusive club reserved for players who have been honoured in both defence and attack.
‘Nudie’ was at right full-back when Monaghan powered their way to a first Ulster title for 41 years in 1979 before moving to attack on a team that won the county’s first League title in 1985, followed by Ulster titles in 1985 and 1988.
His days as a defensive rock were a big help as he sought to escape the vigorous attention of the close-marking brotherhood, especially in the Ulster championship.
McManus knows all about being a ‘marked man’ too, with opponents planning their defensive strategy around preventing him getting possession. Given the excellence of his finishing ability, that’s understandable, even if how they go about it isn’t always legal.
Ciarán Murray was one of the best centre-backs of the 1980s at a time when they tended to be less attack-minded than nowadays. He ignored that script, always seeking to go forward when he got possession.
He won an All Star award at No 6 in 1985, a year when Eamonn McEneaney was shamefully denied a similar honour in attack. He was the outstanding centre-forward that season, but was ruled ineligible arising from a dismissal in a seven-a-side tournament.
He was cleared to play in subsequent games on the same day but, bizarrely, was blocked from All Star selection under a ridiculous rule which prevented players who had been sent off – irrespective of the circumstances – from being considered for selection.
1. Eugene ‘Nudie’ Hughes, 2. Conor McManus, 3. Ciarán Murray, 4. Eamonn McEneaney, 5. Paul Finlay, 6. Ray McCarron, 7. Gerry McCarville, 8. Rory Beggan, 9. Hugo Clerkin, 10. Tommy Freeman, 11. Paddy Linden, 12. Eamonn Tavey, 13. David Byrne, 14. Kieran Finlay, 15. Declan Loughman, 16. Dick Clerkin, 17. Paddy Kerr, 18. Darren Hughes, 19. Vinny Corey, 20. Drew Wylie
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