The annual presentation of the 2021 Medtronic Galway Sports Star awards will be held in the Galway Bay Hotel on Saturday February 19th. Camogie will be strongly represented among the awards, with Aoife Donohue picking up the individual award, Cathal Murray is chosen as Manager of the Year, while the Tribewomen – again captained by Sarah Dervan – pick up the Team of the Year honour.
CAMOGIE: Aoife Donohue
It is doubtful if Galway would have regained the O’Duffy Cup at Croke Park last September only for the sustained excellence of the versatile Aoife Donohue throughout the 2021 All-Ireland Championship campaign. The Mullagh club woman typified the team’s energy and commitment as the county claimed a fourth All-Ireland title after a pulsating final with Cork.
Donohue, who has the distinction of winning All-Ireland Senior and Intermediate medals on the same day in 2013, has developed into one of the key influences on the Galway team, turning in outstanding displays in their knockout wins over Tipperary and the Rebels last autumn. She took her form to new levels in 2021 and is richly deserving of her first Galway Sports Star Award.
TEAM OF THE YEAR: Galway Camogie
Galway Camogie has never been in a better place. Winning two senior All-Ireland titles in the past three years, the women in maroon are the sport’s standard bearers.
Having failed to hit their best form on their way to last year’s final against Cork, some questions had to be answered by Cathal Murray’s charges. And how they embraced that challenge.
The Tribeswomen tore out of the blocks in a major statement of intent, but Cork gradually reeled them in and when the Rebels went three points in front in the closing stages, it was looking ominous for Galway. But the team superbly lead by Sarah Dervan had no intention of surrendering.
They upped the ante, with a goal from Siobhan McGrath and two points from her sister, Orlaith, swinging a great contest back in their favour.
MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Cathal Murray
Such has been Cathal Murray’s impact with the Galway camogie team over the past three years, he was touted as a serious contender for the senior hurling manager’s role, when Shane O’Neill stepped down last September. Having led his club Sarsfields to county title glory as player/manager in 2015, Murray’s sideline reputation has continued to grow.
But having guided Galway to a second All-Ireland camogie title last year, his loyalty to those players ensured that he is again back at the helm for 2022. Murray has turned a previously under-achieving squad into serial winners, with his tactical awareness and player management key cornerstones of the team’s ongoing success. This is his second Galway Sports Stars award.
This piece by John McIntyre was first published in the Connacht Tribune on Feb 3 2022.