Nobody breathed a bigger sigh of relief than JAMES KIELT when the final whistle sounded in the Allianz NFL Div.2 final, at Croke Park. Derry had beaten Westmeath in a grandstand finish and the Kilrea man was on the winning side.

His contribution to that victory was immense and it has earned him the Ulster GAA Writers’ Merit Award for April. Not only was his four points a handsome contribution to the Oak Leaf success, his general play was a major part of the team’s victory.

Last year, was a disappointing one for James as he was laid low for long periods with injuries. However, all those are now cleared up and having a steady spot in the Derry team means a lot to him.

To gain the April honour chemistry undergraduate Kielt (24) had to beat off challenges from Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan who gave an excellent display of points scoring from long distance placed balls and also good saves. Eoin Lennon also brought Monaghan back to power when Meath threatened to take over the Div.3 decider but, overall, James Kielt’s display earns the monthly honour.

“I have had a very poor success rate in finals, losing many at club and county levels, so to be on the winning side in an national final was very pleasing indeed,” says James. “We really needed to win that final and it sets us up well for the Ulster Championship.

“I’m also very happy at wining this award as there were a lot of great personal performances during April. Our final produced three of four top class displays and there were other good shows from Tyrone and Monaghan.”

He adds: “It can’t be bad to win any personal award and to win this one after a national final is excellent.”

UGAAWA chairman John Martin, Merit Winner James Kielt, Derry chairman John Keenan. Pic Michael Cullen

His award includes an engraved Belleek Living vase, specially designed silver cuff links from Omeath jeweller Garrett Mallon, training gear from O’Neill’s International Sports, a sports voucher from the UGAAWA and two tickets plus overnight accommodation for the UGAAWA banquet at the Great Northern Hotel, Bundoran, on Friday, November 15.

Tony McGee