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Who is Cork's best underage star?

Wednesday, 22nd January, 2020 4:34pm

Every sports person has to start somewhere and 2019 was certainly an exceptional year for Cork's young sports stars. This Friday, the crème de la crème of our underage sports stars will gather for the Cork City and County Youth Sports Awards. The overall winner will be announced from a group 2019's 12 monthly winners. To whet the appetite ahead of the gala event, take a look at the 12 nominees and their achievements:

The first winners for 2019 were the Ballygarvan minor camogie team. Having gone from strength to strength since it's reformation in 1988, Ballygarvan was recognised for an exceptional 12 months on the camogie pitch.

As well as a county title in 2017, the team had further success in 2018 winning the Minor A title in 2018 as well as the league title.

Midleton CBS had not just one but three teams recognised in February. Firstly, the hurling team was honoured for winning the Dr Harty Cup after beating CBC Cork in the final, the cup returning to the East Cork school for the first time since 2006.

The school's soccer team, and captain Arthur Nganu, were recognised for capturing the Munster Schools Senior Cup while the cross country team, led by Frank O'Brien, completed a phenomenal year for the school after being crowned Munster Schools Senior Cross Country Team Champions.

The Irish Under 20 rugby team were crowned Six Nations champions in March 2019, completing the Grand Slam after beating all five opponents in their campaign.

For their instrumental roles in the historic win, Cork players Josh Wycherly, Jonathan Wren, Sean French and John Hodnett were named as March's award winners.

2019 was a special year for Blarney United; not only did the club celebrate its 70th anniversary but it did so in style when the under 17s captured the National Cup for the first time ever.Completing the double after the team's Teddy Healy Cup win, Blarney beat Dublin side St Kevin's 1-0 in a nail-biting final at Dalymount Park on 27 April 2019.

Glen Rovers and Cork camogie star Emma Murphy was 2019's first individual award winner. Emma was instrumental as Cork made it back-to-back titles by retaining the All-Ireland Minor Camogie title.

Playing a captain's role, Emma and the team defeated Clare in the final, while she was also a member of the Cork junior team who captured the Munster camogie title against Kerry.

Since the management team of Peter Rowe and Ryan O'Neill took the reins of the Cork under 15 women's soccer squad in 2016, the duo slowly built towards a cup-winning squad.

That moment finally came in 2019 when the under 15s won the Gaynor Cup, beating South Tipperary in the final.

Cathail O'Mahony was honured in July after a brilliant year with the Cork under 20 footballers.

Mitchelstown native Cathail, who was named as the Under 20 Munster Player of the Year, went on to be named man of the match in Cork's All-Ireland Final win against Dublin – a match that saw Cork trail by nine points in the first half, only to beat the Dubs on a scoreline of 3-16 to 1-14 after a sensational comeback.

Glanmire duo Annaliese Murphy and Louise Scannell along with Brunell's Amy Murphy were chosen as August winners for their role in Ireland's bronze medal win at the Under 20 Division B Women's European Basketball Championships. As well as a third place finish, Ireland also earned promotion to Division A for 2020.

Kevin O'Dea looks like a player with a fruitful future ahead of him on the hockey pitch if his contribution to Munster's under 18 interprovincial title win is anything to go by. The fifth year student at Ashton School played a hero's role for his side and was key to Munster's first win at this level in 15 years.

Molly Lynch and Olivia McAllen certainly had a 2019 to remember with a likelihood that their trophy cabinets may already be at full capacity! Olivia captained both the under 16 Cork camogie and football teams, with the camogie side crowned All-Ireland champions while the footballers tasted success in Munster after beating Kerry in the final.

Molly was a member of the Cork minor camogie team who captured the All-Ireland title in April while together the girls were members of the Sarsfield camogie team who won the senior county title for the first time in 30 years.

Brothers Chris and Olin Bateman were recognised in November for their outstanding achievements on the water. The sailing duo, Chris and Olin, both enjoyed a remarkable 2019 when Chris of Monkstown Bay Sailing Club and Royal Cork YC won this year’s Junior Irish Sailing All Ireland Championships in Schull with his younger brother Olin as crew.

At nine years old, Olin was the youngest competitor at the championships where the Batemans had a decisive victory, winning four out of the nine races.

The final award of the decade went to the Midleton minor hurlers. Reaching four of the available finals to them in 2019, and winning three, the highlight of the year for the team was undoubtedly the Premier 1 Hurling Championship County Final victory over Glen Rovers in a classic encounter in Pairc Úi Rinn.

The 2019 Cork City and County Youth Overall Awards will be held at the Metropole Hotel on Friday 24 January.

As well as the overall winner and team of the year announcements, the Hall of Fame Award will be presented to Leevale AC's Donie Walsh at the event.

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