THREE of Cork’s most gifted sports stars were honoured by the Evening Echo at The Ambassador Hotel yesterday.
Now in its 11th year, the scheme is one of the most prestigious on Leeside, and features some of the best athletes not just in the county but also nationally and beyond, which was most certainly the case on this occasion.
Claire Rockall has been a serial winner with the all-conquering Glanmire basketball side, but also represents Ireland with distinction. The Galway native, who is a teacher, excelled for her country in the 3x3 Europe Cup tournament.
She played alongside Cork-based sisters Niamh and Gráinne Dwyer, who actually won an Evening Echo award in the last quarter, and Fiona O’Dwyer as Ireland reached the semi-finals, bowing out to Russia.
Denise Walsh is the latest rowing sensation from Skibbereen to hit the headlines. Walsh, whose family is steeped in the club in west Cork, was a silver medallist at the European Championships on a memorable day in May when the O’Donovan brothers, Mark O’Donovan and Shane O’Driscoll from Skibb were also on the podium.
She represented another rower Sanita Puspure, who was an Evening Echo award winner last year but was away training when the function took place. This time she deservedly took the limelight herself.
Jill Hodgins was first past the post in the women’s section of the Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon over the June Bank Holiday weekend. She is steeped in Cork athletics as her father, the late Dick Hodgins was a driving force of the Cork City Sports. Her previous best in the marathon was third, three years before her 2017 triumph, as she finished 14 minutes clear of second place.
Maurice Gubbins, Eoghan Dinan, Nicola Cullinane, Karen O’Donoghue and Éamonn Murphy represented the Evening Echo.
“This is the 11th year of the Evening Echo Ladies Sports Star Awards,” said deputy sports editor Éamonn Murphy, “the calibre of the three recipients just shows why Cork is the greatest county for sport in Ireland.
“It’s simple. If you’re the best in Cork, you’re the best in the country.”
Eoin Daly spoke on behalf of The Ambassador Hotel.
“We’re delighted to be involved in this awards. Local sport is a huge passion of ours, and this is one of the strongest of its kinds in the country, with three outstanding winners here today,” he said.
The winners for the first quarter this year were: Gráinne Dwyer (basketball), Saorise Noonan (soccer), and Emma White and Victoria Burns (hockey). By the end of the year, 12 recipients will be in contention for the Supreme Ladies Sports Star award for 2017.