At the Rochestown Park Hotel for the Cork 96FM/C103 20th Annual GAA Sports Star of the Year Awards were overall winner Amy O’Connor with Pat Horgan, Chairman Cork County Board; Finbarr McCarthy 96FM; Hilda Breslin, President Camogie Association; John Lehane MD, Rochestown Park Hotel and Kieran McGeary CEO Cork 96FM/C103. Photos: Tony O’Connell

Amy O’Connor wins overall GAA award

Finbarr McCarthy

Cork camogie captain Amy O’Connor whose hat-trick of goals in record time sealed another O’Duffy Cup for a Cork team that put the heartbreak of previous defeats firmly behind them was named the 96FM/C103 GAA Sports Star of the Year last Friday night.

The 20th gala banquet for the awards was held in the Rochestown Park Hotel, who are also the joint sponsors. The 13 monthly winners - all of whom were genuine contenders in a year of so many outstanding displays made choosing the overall winner a difficult task.

Amy was thrilled to be honoured and paid tribute to all who helped make it possible. In her opinion, the turning point of the season came after a defeat to Waterford in the Munster Championship in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

“In a strange way it probably was, as we had a good chat after that and never really looked back after that game.”

The draw pitted them against Kilkenny in the QF and Galway in the SF and Amy laughingly recalled the trip to Croke Park for the Kilkenny game. “It was funny; we had to get off the train in Thurles and then we had a Garda escort, but it relaxed us and we got the job done.”

Amy also paid tribute to former manager Matthew Twomey and looked forward to the year ahead under Ger Manley, both of whom were in attendance.

In a nice touch Camogie President Hilda Breslin who presented Amy with O’Duffy Cup back in August was on hand to perform a similar feat to a rousing acclaim from the capacity attendance.

The Kieran O’Driscoll Youth Award winner was Cork under 20 hurling captain Michael Mullins. Unfortunately illness prevented the Whitechurch clubman from attending and the award was accepted on his behalf by his father Michael.

Kieran McGeary of 96FM/C013 presented this award and paid tribute to all who have ensured that the awards are going from strength to strength and also said the support from all in Rochestown Park Hotel is a key element.

Another popular recipient was Cork and St Finbarr’s legend Jimmy Barry Murphy who was presented with the Donal Lehane Distinguished Career award by John Lehane.

Jimmy reflecting on his career, said: “I was privileged to play with some great teams and great players and enjoyed it all.”

On regrets, Jimmy said he had “a few but overall more good days than bad days”.

For the coming season he is involved with the ‘Barr’s senior footballers and he is really looking forward to it. “I am yes, it’s been a good few years for the club and hopefully we can have a run in the championship but it’s a tough one to win.”

This award was introduced a number of years ago and in attendance on the night were previous recipients who were all former team mates of JBM: Charlie McCarthy and Gerald McCarthy along with John Coleman who was on the 1973 Cork All-Ireland winning football team. Billy Morgan, captain of the 1973 football team and a former winner of the award was also present.

Cork County Board Chairman Pat Horgan in his address, said: “These are very prestigious awards and I compliment both the Rochestown Park Hotel and 96FM/C103 for their promotion of them while the coverage the radio station give our games at all levels is greatly appreciated.”

Among those attendance were Bob Ryan, Treasurer Munster Council; former GAA president Christy Cooney and representatives of the Cork Camogie Board, Cork LGFA, Rebel Óg Chairman Michael O’Mahoney and Francis Kenneally PRO and Noel O’Callaghan Vice-Chairman Cork County Board.

So the curtain came down on yet another season of the awards; congratulations to the monthly recipients and also to the 3 worthy and outstanding winners on the night.

2023 may be over, but very shortly the first winners of 2024 will be announced, as the 21st year of the awards begins!