SHANE Beston, one of the heroes of Ballygiblin's All-Ireland junior hurling triumph has picked up a prestigious award.
Beston has been honoured as the first monthly winner of the 96FM/C103 Rochestown Park Hotel Sports Star awards for this season.
It's year 20 of the award scheme and it has certainly started on a high as Shane has been recognised for an outstanding contribution to his team's fairytale win early in the new year.
A marathon few years of activity on the playing fields climaxed when the north Cork club climbed the steps of the Hogan Stand to receive the coveted silverware, one year on from suffering a gutting single-point defeat to Mooncoin.
Beston played a big part in the championship storyline of 2022, having returned from injury at the start of the campaign after missing the previous championship season due to hip issues.
"It was a dream come true to win the All-Ireland this time around. There was a lot of soul-searching after the defeat to Mooncoin last year. The goal for us at the start of the new season was to see if we could compete at the higher level of Premier Junior and initially negotiate what was a tough group.
"I suppose it just snowballed from there on, we had the momentum again which is huge in any sport. There was a feeling then that having got there again, we were not going to let it slip this time."
A talented footballer with Mitchelstown, Shane like many of his colleagues had a balancing act to undertake between both codes, which for him needed careful management having just recovered from injury.
"Due to ongoing issues with my hips for a few years, I was forced to take a step back from the hurling scene in 2021.
"This time last year, I met with Dave (Moher) and Ronan (Dwane) to see if we could make it work with me back playing hurling again. The management were really good, back and forth with the footballers in a way that my training could be managed. Thankfully it all worked out."
A feature of Ballygiblin's championship odyssey of the past few years has been the way the entire parish has travelled on the journey. The exploits of the team have seen people of all age groups journey across the country proudly wearing the club colours.
"It was amazing. There were crowds watching training that we would never have had at a match previously. We were involved in a good few close matches along the way and to have that huge support made all the difference.
"To win an All-Ireland title in Croke Park with family and friends was just an incredible feeling."
After two years of intense activity which has seen the club in action through the four seasons, the focus for 2023 will now be on the new challenges at the higher grade in Cork. The team began their Division 5 league campaign last weekend at home to Watergrasshill and will face a championship summer that will see intermediate group games against 2022 finalists Cloughduv, along with Midleton and Douglas.
No doubt it's a step up for the Avondhu men, who of course will be without Mark Keane and are currently minus the services of the injured Cathail O'Mahony for their upcoming league games.
"Our goal now is to solidify our status at intermediate level. We are not going to be looking too far ahead. It's a matter of getting the ball rolling again over the opening weeks of the league programme. There is still a good bit of momentum after the All-Ireland win and despite the loss of both Mark and Cathail, we will hope to do well as there are also a good few young guys coming through."