Linda Mellerick: Three All-Stars can give Cork a lift before the new season

Hannah Looney, Chloe Sigerson and Orla Cronin were worthy winners in the Liberty Insurance scheme
Linda Mellerick: Three All-Stars can give Cork a lift before the new season

Cork's Hannah Looney drives the sliotar downfield. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

ALL-IRELAND champions Kilkenny dominated the 2020 Camogie All-Stars team sponsored by Liberty Insurance taking six places in what was a virtually held event last Saturday evening.

All-Ireland runners-up Galway received two awards which seemed pretty low for All Ireland finalists with Tipperary and Cork receiving three awards each and Waterford completing the line-up with one.

For Kilkenny, full-back Claire Phelan, left half-back Davina Tobin, midfielder Grace Walsh, left half-forward Denise Gaule, full-forward Miriam Walsh and left corner-forward Anne Dalton were the six selected.

I think Michelle Teehan at right corner-back can be disappointed at not picking up a gong. I thought she was excellent last season. 

Grace Walsh was picked at midfield and I suppose the selectors can get away with that now such is the roaming nature of the game. But Walsh was tremendous at left half-back throughout. Midfield was a bit of a stretch.

All-Ireland runners-up Galway are represented with right corner-back Shauna Healy and right corner-forward Orlaith McGrath.

Three places for Tipperary is a huge return and a signal of their progression. Áine Slattery (goalkeeper), Mary Ryan (left corner-back) and Karen Kennedy (centre-back) received their first All-Stars awards. It’s a pity that this year there weren’t 45 nominees listed as Amy Lee had an excellent season and would have been nominated.

It was no surprise that Hannah Looney (right half-back), Chloe Sigerson (midfield) and Orla Cronin (centre-forward) were selected.

Cork’s Orla Cronin takes a free. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane
Cork’s Orla Cronin takes a free. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

All three were well deserved. Hannah has proved so powerful as an attacking number five. 

For Chloe to pick an All-Star up at midfield rather than in the half-back line endorses her versality while Orla Cronin has been Cork’s most consistent forward for a while now and is a true leader. It’s an overdue first award.

It goes to show when one looks through the award winners and their number of All-Stars that a lot of the players are relatively young. 

Outside of Kilkenny’s Anne Dalton and Denise Gaule most were picking up their first or second award.

Waterford captain and right half-forward Niamh Rockett completed the selection for her first award and it’s always wonderful to see players get their first, particularly when they’re outside the typical top four counties.

Kilkenny manager Brian Dowling was named as Manager of the Year for the first time. No surprise there and also well deserved. 

After the disappointment of losing another final in 2019 he picked his players back up and the work done defensively with this team who had leaked three goals in the ’19 final was clearly evident. They turned around a 0-17 to 3-14 defeat to Galway into a 1-14 to 1-11 victory against the same opposition.

Kilkenny’s Denise Gaule also collected the Camogie Association/WGPA Senior Players’ Player of the Year award. Niamh Mallon of Down was the recipient of the Intermediate accolade whilst Armagh’s Ciara Donnelly was chosen as the Junior Players’ Player of the Year. All three were selected after voting by intercounty players through the WGPA.

All-Ireland Intermediate champions Down led the 2020 Soaring Stars Awards, represented by six players. I still think this competition was a bit of a sham with six counties omitted due to Covid, which didn’t make any sense at all. Intermediate runners-up Antrim had three players.

Laois got two and Meath one. All-Ireland Premier Junior champions Armagh received two awards while the remaining position was taken by Nancy Murray Cup champion Róisín O’Keeffe from Cavan.

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