WHILE hurling and camogie are team sports, it's still pretty sweet for players to pick up individual accolades.
Nothing compares to county or All-Ireland medals but at the same time, no one is going to turn down an All-Star.
Cork did well at the PwC awards, where Patrick Horgan, Seamus Harnedy and Darragh Fitzgibbon were included. The provincial champions are generally acknowledged in the scheme, though in 2014 the Rebels were completely overlooked in the wake of a semi-final final drubbing against Tipp.
Last season Horgan and Mark Coleman made the cut and this season's trio of recipients were worthy winners too and were all Hurler of the Year candidates going into the latter stages of the championship.
It was hugely disappointing Daniel Kearney missed out though. He was Cork's best and most consistent hurler last summer, where he drifted deep to control the tempo of matches while also rifling over long-range points. His departure through injury against Limerick was the single biggest factor in Cork coughing up their lead and losing in extra time.
Now it's easy to suggest a player should make an All-Star team and harder to say who they would replace. Being involved in the judging panel for Rearden's Club All-Stars makes us appreciate just how tricky to can be to find a balance between individual and collective effort when coming up with a final 15.
In this case, even if it was at the expense of one of the Cork forwards Harnedy or Horgan, Kearney merited inclusion.
On the camogie front, it was more straightforward, given the Leesiders were All-Ireland champions.
Gemma O’Connor landed a remarkable 11th camogie All-Star as Cork dominated the 2018 selections at both senior and intermediate level.
The Rebels captured a double in September, a feat which saw Paudie Murray recognised as the manager of the year for the third time, Saoirse McCarthy chosen as the Intermediate Players’ Player of the Year, and 14 All-Stars handed out to Leesiders.
At senior, O’Connor – whose brother Glenn only a week earlier helped St Finbarr’s to a first county football victory in 33 years – led the way, while Aoife Murray was honoured for the eighth time in goal and ace free-taker Orla Cotter for the sixth occasion. O'Connor, Murray and Cotter are bonafide Leeside legends at this stage, serial winners who thrive when the stakes are highest.
Twins Pamela and Katrina Mackey from Douglas were both included, along with first-time recipients Hannah Looney and Chloe Sigerson in the half-back line. Laura Treacy and Amy O'Connor were perhaps hard done by, but Kilkenny were league champions and only lost the All-Ireland by a point so were going to be heavily represented too.
The Cork Soaring Stars winners were goalkeeper Amy Lee, captain Sarah Harrington and Leah Weste in the full-back line, Jennifer Barry at centre-back, Katelyn Hickey in midfield, and Saoirse McCarthy and Caitríona Collins up front.
Being selected as the top player capped off an incredible season for Courcey Rovers’ McCarthy, who also inspired Cork to a minor All-Ireland back in the summer. The 18-year-old has a velvet touch and is a very clean striker of the sliotar and should be a mainstay of Cork camogie for years.
Ballinhassig’s Caitríona Collins is the sister of Rebel goalies Patrick and Ger Collins and collected a cup in Croker before her brothers.
The father of Ballincollig’s Leah Weste, Tommy, was a selector for the club's hurlers when they captured the intermediate county and it was terrific to see the family out in force to support Leah. Having seen her coming up through the ranks from junior - with the sleeves on her jersey always rolled up Aussie Rules style - she fully deserved her award.
Cork’s senior All-Stars: Aoife Murray, Pamela Mackey, Hannah Looney, Chloe Sigerson, Gemma O’Connor, Orla Cotter, Katrina Mackey.
Cork’s Soaring Stars: Amy Lee, Leah Weste, Sarah Harrington, Jennifer Barry, Katelyn Hickey, Saoirse McCarthy, Caitríona Collins.
Manager of the Year: Paudie Murray.
Intermediate Players’ Player of the Year: Saoirse McCarthy.
Hurling All-Stars: Darragh Fitzgibbon, Seamus Harnedy, Patrick Horgan.