At the Rochestown Park Hotel for the Cork 96FM C103 GAA Sports Star of the Month for January were joint winners Sean O’Donoghue, St Catherines & Alan Fenton, Castlelyons. Also pictured are Denis Walsh, Noel O’Callaghan, VC, Cork County Board; Willie Ring, President Cork County Board; Kieran McGeary CEO, Cork 96FM C103;, Finbarr McCarthy 96FM; Steve Cox, Marketing Manager RPH; John McCarthy, Chairman Castlelyons GAA Club and Kieran McGann, PRO Castlelyons. Photo: Tony O’Connell

Joint GAA award winners for January

As we start the 21st year of the 96FM/C103 GAA Sports Star awards, it seems only fitting that for the very first month there should be joint winners, just like there was in December.

Both Castlelyons and St Catherines may have come up short in their bids for All-Ireland glory but that should not take from what was an outstanding season as they were crowned Munster Junior and Intermediate Hurling Champions.

Fitting then that Sean O’Donoghue of St Catherine’s and Alan Fenton of Castlelyons were honoured as the 96FM/C103 GAA Sports Star winners for January in association with the Rochestown Park Hotel.

For 19 year old Sean, the experience of playing in Croke Park was one to savour. “It was exceptional to see so many from the surrounding area supporting us and while we didn’t perform on the night, hopefully it will stand to us.”

Sean who sits his Leaving Cert in the coming months said they quickly put the county final defeat behind them. “Well Denis (Walsh), our coach said after that game let’s drive on from here and try and win Munster and it just took off from there and that is something to take from a great year.”

Winning the county title after so many heartbreaking defeats in recent years was Castlelyons’ objective, according to Alan. “It was really - at the start of the year we set out our goals and got there after an exciting campaign and a brilliant final against our neighbours Kilworth.”

The Munster championship brought its own drama; an extra-time win in Kerry, a final that was nearly abandoned owing to fog and a hat-trick of goals from Dubai-based Anthony Spillane. “It was fairly dramatic alright. At one point we thought the final would not finish but we got there in the end.”

Like Sean, Alan who is preparing for his wedding to Sophie in July, said Croke Park was a fantastic experience “apart from the result that is, but we can always say we played there, and at least we have Senior A to look forward to this season”.

Noel O’Callaghan, Vice-Chairman of the Cork County Board congratulated both winners on their award, sentiments expressed also by Steve Cox of Rochestown Park Hotel and Kieran McGeary, CEO of 96FM/C103. Noel also paid tribute to the sponsors for their continued support of the awards and on reaching 21 years - testimony to their status within Cork GAA.

Family and friends of both players along with club officials were attendance while St Catherine’s Manager Denis Walsh was present as were Kieran McGann, PRO Castlelyons GAA, Willie Ring President of the Cork County Board and Denis Hurley, Vice-President of the Imokilly Board.

So year 21 of the awards is up and running and another exciting season beckons on the playing fields of Cork, Munster and hopefully Croke Park.