On a glittering night to mark an equally glittering GAA season, the stars of the GAA world descended upon the Dublin Convention Centre for the PWC GAA/GPA All-Star Awards 2017. The gala black-tie event recognises the individual achievements of GAA’s finest in both sporting codes: hurling and Gaelic football.
It was a particularly memorable night for UCC’s Mark Coleman, who exploded onto the championship stage in May with an impressive performance against Tipperary. The master of the sideline cut, Coleman was honoured with his first All-Star award for his outstanding performances as the Rebels’ left half-back.
The Blarney clubman was not the only UCC student to feature on the All-Star hurling roll of honour as he was joined by Waterford’s Jamie Barron who partnered with Galway captain David Burke to complete the All-Star midfield pairing.
Including Barron, All-Ireland defeated finalists Waterford secured a further four All-Stars, featuring the stalwart that is Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh.
Both Barron and Coleman were nominated for the prestigious accolades of Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year respectively, but unfortunately both missed out to two Tribesmen in the form of Joe Canning and Conor Whelan. Canning, winning his impressive fourth All-Star, was one of seven Galwegians on the All-Star team, honouring the Leinster Champions who secured Galway’s first All-Ireland since 1988. Whelan was joined in the full forward line by Galway compatriot Conor Cooney, along with Cork’s very own, Patrick Horgan, bringing the Rebels’ All-Star tally to two. The Glen Rovers player was treated to his second All-Star: an obvious recognition for his consistency and commitment to the Rebel cause.
The Rebels, however, featured less brightly on the All-Star football team. UCC and Douglas clubman, Seán Powter, was Cork’s only football nominee as he was shortlisted in the Young Player of the Year category – an honour which was later awarded to Dublin and Cuala forward, Con O’Callaghan. Last year’s Player of the Year, Mayo’s Lee Keegan, whilst nominated, missed out on an award. Yet, his fellow Mayo men would be proud of their six All-Star awards, including Player of the Year Andy Moran. The Ballaghaderreen clubman saw off stiff competition from teammate David Clarke, as well as Dublin’s Stephen Cluxton and James McCarthy, to win the accolade. Cluxton and McCarthy were two of seven Dubs to feature on the stellar panel, alongside Tyrone’s Colm Cavanagh, with UCC and Kerry star Paul Geaney completing the All-Star line-up. As the curtains closed on the glamourous night, it brought an end to what was a star-studded season for UCC students on the national GAA stage.