Donegal seem to be able to produce raiding forwards on a regular basis. Young talent to replace ageing limbs and, surely, there hasn't been any fresh face more successful than Odhran MacNiallais, since he emerged as a teenager in the squad, four years ago.

The lanky Gweedore man has blossomed into one of the top forwards in Ireland and his performances against Fermanagh and Monaghan, in the drawn game, during June pushed Donegal on their way towards another Ulster SFC final. When the chips were down and the Tir Connail men were reduced to 14 players for the second half against Fermanagh, leadership and extra energy was needed. Nobody provided that better than MacNiallais (23) who cracked home two goals, special hits that won the game.

When another big score was needed against Monaghan, in the drawn semi-final, Odhran provided it, once more, with a golden goal. For those performances, he wins the Quinn Building Products Monthly Merit Award for June.

Quinn Building Products UGAAWA MERIT AWARD For June 2016

Seamus McMahon, Sales and Marketing Director for Quinn Building Products in Ireland, presents the Belleek Living Vase to Odhran MacNiallais, winner of the Quinn Building Products Ulster GAA Writers Monthly Merit Award. With them is John Martin, Chairman of the UGAAWA.  Pic: Peadar McMahon

“That is a great honour and I appreciate it very much,” enthused the goal-grabbed when told of his award. “Team awards are great but to get a personal honour like this is really special. It is a big lift going into the Ulster final.”

In his trophy drawer, the Donegal man has three All-Ireland Gaeltacht Football Championship medals alongside a couple of Ulster SFC awards. “We have under-achieved at club level so I have no club medals,” he reflected.

He is now, of course, looking forward to the provincial final against Tyrone, a game he describes as “a real tough test”.

To win the June Merit Award, he had to beat off challenges from Tyrone's Ronan O'Neill and Monaghan's Karl O'Connell, with Rosemary Courtney (Monaghan) and Tyrone hurler Lawrence Cunningham also in the mix.

Odhran was presented with his Merit Award of an engraved Belleek Living vase, specially designed silver cuff links by Garrett Mallon, Carlingford Design House, training gear from O'Neill's International Sportswear and a medical kit bag from 3FiveTwo, on behalf of Kingsbridge Private Hospital. The presentation was made by Quinn Building Products Sales and Marketing Director for Ireland, Seamus McMahon, at a reception in the Donegal County Council Offices, Lifford.

“That is a lot of awards and I must try harder to win this Merit again,” cracked MacNiallais.

Garrett Mallon, Carlingford Design House, Omeath, presents the specially designed cuff-links to Odhran MacNiallais, as one of the gifts presented to the winner of the Quinn Building Products Ulster GAA Writers Monthly Merit award. Also in picture are - Oisin Mallon and John Martin, Chairman UGAAWA.  Pic: Peadar McMahon

EMBARGOED until Wednesday, July 13

Odhran MacNiallais, winner of the Quinn Building Products Ulster GAA Writers Merit Award for June, is congratulated by Rory Gallagher, Donegal team Manager. With them are -  John Martin, Chairman UGAAWA; Seamus McMahon, Quinn Building Products Sales and Marketing Director for Ireland; and Garrett Mallon, Carlingford Design House and a monthly sponsor for this award. Pic: Peadar McMahon

Odhran MacNiallais after the presentation with John Martin, Ulster GAA Writers Chairman and Seán Dunnion, Chairperson of Donegal GAA.  Pic: Peadar McMahon

Odhran MacNiallais, June winner of the Quinn Building Products Ulster GAA Writers Merit Award with Peter Campbell, Donegal Democrat;  Seamus McMahon, Quinn  Building Products; John Martin, Chairman UGAAWA; and Gerry McLaughlin, UGAAWA. Pic: Peadar McMahon

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