You just can’t keep a good man down and, surely, CONLEITH GILLIGAN has earned the title of ‘The Comeback Kid’. As managers differed, the Ballinderry doyen just sat back and waited his chance to prove some bosses wrong. In doing that, he earns our Quinn Insurance/Ulster GAA Writers’ Merit Award for January 2011.

The story is that Conleith won this award twice before. His exploits with Ballinderry during February 2002 and November 2006 earned his previous honours but, as his club’s fortunes took a dip, the wily attacker was left out of the Derry senior panel during 2009 and 2010.

The call to action was sent out again to Conleith at the start of this year and he immediately sprang into the picture again with excellent displays that have helped Derry to the Dr McKenna Cup final, next Saturday. For those top-class performances he earns last month’s Merit Award.

“I’m absolutely delighted with that news,” beamed Conleith when he was told he had won the award. “Things did go well for me last month and I was glad to get back into the Derry panel again. The new manager, and all that, has helped me to resurrect my county career and I am looking forward to the McKenna Cup final and the National League.”

Now at 31, Gilligan believes he is on top of his form. “I don’t feel 31 and, anyhow, it is only a number,” he jokes.

He proved that during the month of January and, again, as Derry opened their league campaign with a win over Tyrone, but that’s for another day.

As his January Merit Award, Conleith received a UGAAWA Sports voucher, an engraved Belleek China vase, specially designed silver cuff links from Omeath jeweller Garrett Mallon and training gear from O’Neill’s International Sports. The presentation was made at a reception in Quinn’s Corner by Ronan McCabe, Assistant Manager Quinn Direct, Enniskillen.

The winner will also receive two tickets and overnight accommodation for the UGAAWA 2011 banquet next November.


 Pictures by Oliver McVeigh.