Awards banquet to honour Cork stars of past few years

Awards banquet to honour Cork stars of past few years

Cork's Ciarán Joyce was a monthly award winner in the 96FM/C103 GAA scheme. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

A GALA night of celebration is ensured for some of the county's best-known GAA stars at the 96FM/C103 Rochestown Park Hotel Awards Banquet this Friday. 

As with so many strands of life, the pandemic led to huge disruption in the GAA calendar over the past few years. It means that this year's overall awards function is running much later than normal. 

In fact, the occasion will bring together the respective monthly award winners from 2021 and the solitary monthly winner from 2020. The popular awards scheme has been driven by Finbarr McCarthy, GAA correspondent with 96FM and C103 but was suspended for most of 2020.

Whilst the announcement of the overall yearly winner will again be the highlight of Friday's function, there are two other very sought after accolades spanning two different strands of Cork GAA. The Kieran O'Driscoll Youth Award, perpetuates the memory of the late Kilbrittain and Carbery stalwart, who was a highly respected match analyst on C103 for many years. Kieran, who had deep roots in education always had a great eye for developing players and thus this accolade now honours one of the rising stars in the county.

Meantime, the Donal Lehane Distinguished Career Award, brings to mind one of the former owners of the Rochestown Park Hotel, a man with a great passion for GAA. Some Of the best known names in Cork GAA history have already been inducted into this Hall of Fame category and thus Friday's announcement of the winner is again eagerly anticipated.

Of course, the ultimate announcement will be of the overall winner who will also take their place amongst a galaxy of stars that have been honoured in the previous 16 years of this hugely popular awards scheme. There's no doubt that scrolling through the monthly recipients, the judges have faced a very difficult assignment in coming to their final conclusion.

The aforementioned single winner from pre pandemic days is Tadhg Deasy, who at the time was honoured for the part he played in St Michael's U21 Football Championship-winning campaign. 

Tracey Kennedy's role and contribution as first female chairperson of Cork County GAA Board is the second award listing, whilst Blackrock's feat in winning the County senior championship in 2020 was honoured with recognition for top scorer Alan Connolly. Likewise there was a well deserved monthly award for Blarney and Cork senior Shane Barrett, on the back of this contribution to this club's Premier Intermediate county win.

The ladies were back in the picture with the exploits of Hannah Looney Cork dual star and recently selected All-Star honoured for her performances at the highest level in both codes. Winning a double county title is something of a rare feat, but for John Cooper and Éire Óg that dream came true as the Ovens based outfit triumphed in both codes. 

While a number of the aforementioned award winners were belatedly honored due to the lack of the absence of any social gatherings at the peak of the pandemic, some of the remaining presentations did actually take place closer to the playing season.

Dual stars Brian Hayes and Jack Cahalane were jointly honoured for their feats with the inter-county U20 teams as they starred in the red jersey during a hectic summer period. Padraig Power became the second Blarney man on the honours list, taking the August award in acknowledgement of his role in Cork's U20 All-Ireland hurling success.

September arrived with Nemo Rangers having eventually been crowned 2020 county football champions and here long serving Paul Kerrigan had his name up in lights. October was a hectic month on the playing fields and taking all the action in his stride was Castlemartyr's Ciarán Joyce, as he followed his double inter-county U20 success with individual recognition.

As Midleton won the county senior hurling title last November, several players shone with inspiring individual displays. One of these, Ross O'Regan was selected as the November monthly winner. 

Finally, the curtain came down on the 2021 individual accolades when John Kerins, was honoured for his huge role as St Finbarr's won the county senior football championship.

So the screen is very set for the gathering of the gaels at Rochestown Park Hotel this Friday evening. as many famous faces will attend a function that is now compulsory in the diary of so many of the GAA fraternity on Leeside. Taoiseach Micheál Martin will be the special guest at this year's function.

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