It seems that PAUL McKEOWN believes in keeping his very best displays for the big stage and for the second year in a row he played the leading role in the AIB Ulster Club Football final.

Corner-back McKeown starred as Crossmaglen Rangers retained the provincial title with a replay win over Ballinderry Shamrocks to emerge with the ‘Man-of-the-Match’ trophy. Now he adds the Tennent’s/Ulster GAA Writers’ Merit Award for December 2008, as well. Ironically, Paul won the same award last year after Crossmaglen defeated St Gall’s (Belfast) in the final.

“Have I won it again? That’s amazing – a big shock – but a great start to the new year for me,” enthused Paul when told of the award. “I really enjoyed everything connected with the award last time and it is great news that I am the winner again.”

The livewire No.4 contributed a special point to Cross’ replay victory and smiles when he looks back on that score. “I had tried that kick dozens of times in training and never once did the ball go over the bar. When I go the pass I just didn’t know what to do – whether to have a go or lay off the ball. I aimed for the posts and, thankfully, that time it went over.”

This is a belated 21st birthday present for the Crossmaglen plumber who reached the magical age last Monday week.

To date, he has collected three Ulster SFC medals, two Armagh senior trophies and one All-Ireland senior club medal. He has also Ulster county medals at minor and under-21 levels and now had two Monthly Merit Awards.

For the latest honour he had to beat off the challenge of St Paul’s Aisling Reilly who completed a grand slam of USHA Junior singles and doubles handball championship tiles (from age 13 to 19) during the last week in December.

The presentation was made to Paul McKeown at a function in the Glenowen Inn, Belfast, by Rod McCrory, Inbev Ireland, on Wednesday, January 14. He received a Tennent’s Sports Voucher, an engraved Belleek China vase, specially designed silver cuff links from Omeath jeweller Gareth Mallon and training gear from O’Neill’s International Sports. He will also receive two tickets to the Ulster GAA Writers’ 2009 banquet.


Rod McCrory, Inbev Ireland, with Crossmaglen's Paul McKeown, right, who was presented with the Tennents GAA Writers’ Monthly Merit Award for December 2008.

Paul McKeown, with Crossmaglen manager  Donal Murtagh.

Crossmaglen's Paul McKeown

Photos: ©OMcVeigh/Sportsfile