Quinn Products UGAAWA MERIT AWARD For April 2017

April was a busy month for Antrim hurlers, including full-back JOHN DILLON and they all came through the action with a lot of merit. Dillon, from Armoy Glen Rovers,  was commanding in all games and wins our monthly award form his performances.We must go back to 2008 to find two Antrim hurlers getting the award in the same year. Dillon follows quickly on the heels of his goalkeeper Chris O'Connell who was the winner for January. Neil McManus and Sean McNaughton were the last Antrim hurlers to win in the same year.“It is great to have Chris behind me. He takes charge,” says John (30), a farmer and late developer who never played county minor or U21 hurling.“Kevin Ryan called me into the squad two years ago and the following week I played in the Leinster SHC against Laois. Then the present managers Dominic McKinley and Terence McNaughton gave me my chance again and things have been going well since.”

The Saffron camán wielders played five game in three different competitions and against four different counties, with an undefeated run as they travelled up and down the country. It was probably the busiest few weeks the players ever witnessed but success made the journey that little easier and training a bit more delightful. First, it was Carlow that Antrim played in the NHL Div 2A when a win took the Ulster side up to Div 1B next season. Next up was Donegal in the Ulster Championship, followed by Carlow again – this time in the opening round of the Christy Ring Cup. It took overtime to decide that battle but, again, Antrim came out on top. Armagh then fell in the Ulster Championship and Antrim polished off their month's work with a Christy Ring victory over Down, to qualify for a semi-final clash with the Mourne men in the semi-final, next Saturday. Dillon, wearing the No 3 jersey, was central to those Antrim successes, playing like a full-back of old.
“We play Down again next Saturday, at Cushendall, in the Christy Ring semi-final, and it would be nice to win and get to Croke Park for the final,” reflected Dillon.
Also considered for the April award were Tyrone hurling full-back Brendan Begley, Donegl sharpshooter Geraldine McLaughlin and Donegal ladies' football manager Michael Naughton who led the ladies to the Div 1 league final.
As his award John Dillon receives an engraved Belleek Living vase, hand-crafted cuff links from Carlingford Design House and training gear from O'Neill's International Sports. He will also receive an invitation to the next Quinn Building Products Ulster GAA Writers' annual presentation function.

Pics: Copyright with James McIlwain.