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GAA awards take centre stage

Wednesday, 29th January, 2020 3:56pm

Grab your gladrags as one of the biggest nights in the GAA calendar is almost upon us! On Friday, hundreds will gather in the Rochestown Park Hotel where the Cork's 96FM/C103 Sports Star of the Year Awards will take place.

Led by Cork's 96FM and Cork Independent GAA correspondent, Finbarr McCarthy, the 12 awardees of 2019 will go head to head to be crowned the overall winner for 2019.

Picking a winner will be no easy task for the judges, have a peak at the 12 nominees and their achievements over the past year:

Charleville's Danny O'Flynn was first up in 2019. He was awarded in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the Charleville Premier Intermediate hurling team, firstly for their county title win, which then led to a Munster club title and an All-Ireland final appearance. Although on the wrong side of the result in Croke Park, Danny and his teammates had a memorable run and now play their hurling in the senior ranks on Leeside.

2019 was a year to remember for UCC after the college brought the double home, with wins in the Sigerson Cup and Fitzgibbon Cup finals. Football captain Cian Kiely and hurling star Shane Kingston collected the awards for their individual contributions to colossal team displays for both sides.

Midleton CBS were crowned Dr Harty Cup champions in front of a crowd of over 7,000 spectators in Páirc Uí Rinn in March 2019 after beating CBC Cork in the first all-Cork final since 1986, winning on a scoreline of 2-12 to 0-14. Defender Darragh Moran, who was rock solid throughout Midleton's successful run, won March's award for his contribution to the cup win.

After winning the Premier Intermediate Football County Championship in 2018, Fermoy faced a tough task in their opening senior match in 2019, with Castlehaven in opposition. However, the newly-promoted side won that game by a point and also won their hurling championship opener against Courcey Rovers by a point. For this, Brian O'Sullivan, who has led Fermoy through many a championship battle, was selected in April.

The Cork ladies footballers took yet another cup home in May when they beat Galway in the National Ladies Football League Final. This followed a tense semi-final win over All-Ireland champions Dublin. Goalkeeper Martina O'Brien, so often the hero for her side, was picked as the winner for May after a hugely impressive league campaign.

Although the Cork senior footballers didn't collect any silverware in 2019, they did have a number of impressive individual displays throughout their campaign. Mallow's Mattie Taylor was influential in Cork's win over Limerick in the Munster semi-final and although losers to Kerry in the Munster Final, Taylor again enjoyed a noteworthy performance in defence and picked up June's award as a result.

Under 20 footballer Brian Hartnett enjoyed a year to remember in 2019. Not only was he a member of the team that took Munster honours, he also earned an All-Ireland medal when Cork beat Dublin in a cracking All-Ireland Final.

Conor Corbett headlined almost every paper in the country after one of the best individual displays seen in a Cork jersey in an All-Ireland Final for some time. The minor football captain was the scorer of 1-7 against Galway in that match, including a last-second goal to take the game to extra-time, and was a shoo-in for August's Player of the Month Award.

Sarsfields won their first senior camogie county title in 30 years, shaking off their underdog tag with gusto by beating heavy favourites Inniscarra on the day. 38 year old Emer Fennell, a back to back All-Ireland winner with Cork in 2008 and 2009, notched 2-3 in the county final win and took September's award for her memorable display.

Nemo Rangers are no strangers to the podium with 21 county title wins to date. Goalkeeper Micheál Aodh Martin was absolutely instrumental in their 21st title against Duhallow in October 2019, saving two goal-bound shots from Duhallow in the second half of the final. For this, Martin was chosen as October's award winner.

Fr O'Neills enjoyed a fairytale season in 2019, winning the Premier Intermediate county and Munster titles on the road to Croke Park. Although the All-Ireland Final was not to be for the East Cork side, the team certainly enjoyed one of their best years to date where forward Declan Dalton, November's award winner, consistently led his side by example with his deadly accuracy.

The final award of 2019 went to Josh Beausang of Russell Rovers. The Shanagarry club enjoyed a similar year to their neighbours Fr O'Neills, winning the junior county and Munster titles, before being pipped to the post in the All-Ireland Final. Forward Beausang racked up score after score for his side throughout the campaign and was the ideal candidate to complete the list of 2019 monthly award winners.

The Cork's 96FM/C103 Sports Star of the Year award will take place at Rochestown Park Hotel on Friday 31 January.

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