BY GER McCARTHY
THIS year’s Carbery GAA Awards provided a fitting conclusion to a positive year for West Cork football and hurling at the West Cork Hotel in Skibbereen.
A galaxy of local stars were on hand to celebrate the end of another bumper year for GAA in West Cork. Carbery GAA chairperson Tommy Lyons was as content with the smooth running of another awards ceremony as the positive season that preceded it.
‘Some of the excitement we have had this year was unbelievable,’ Tommy Lyons admitted.
‘There is nothing like experiencing a first title and we had that with St James’ winning the Carbery junior A football championship. We also had Ballinascarthy claiming their first (junior) hurling title in 19 years and the build-up to both West Cork finals was tremendous.
‘It is a very rare year to have the two winners like we had in both football and hurling, but the Carbery division did just that in 2019. Having the favourites knocked out of both competitions early on was unusual as well. St James and Bal did well in their respective county championships. which was great to see.
‘Our own competitions are in a healthy state and providing good entertainment. Nobody could complain about the level of entertainment in Carbery we got this year! It has been an outstanding year’
Members of the Cork U20 All-Ireland winning management team and squad were also present at the West Cork Hotel. Tommy Lyons is thrilled to see an increasing number of Carbery representatives at underage inter-county level.
‘In fairness, there has been a tremendous amount of work being carried out within our development squads,’ Lyons commented.
‘James McCarthy and his fellow GDAs’ great work is starting to tell at minor and U20 inter-county level. We had 19 of the U20 and minors with us for the awards, which was fantastic. They are fine young fellows and very ambitious which is refreshing to see.
‘Everyone in West Cork is delighted with the standard of football being played at this level and the fact Keith Ricken (U20 manager) has proven such a big plus for developing football in the Carbery division over the past 12 months. Having Keith and the U20 squad back training in Clonakilty once again this year is another boost for Carbery.’
On an evening players, managers and backroom team members were honoured for their efforts during 2019, the Carbery board sprung a nice surprise by acknowledging photographer Paddy Feen’s contribution to the local GAA scene.
‘Paddy didn’t realise at first that he was being honoured but thrilled to receive the award once he figured out what was going on,’ Tommy Lyons stated.
‘He was focussing his camera when he realised, we were talking about him and ready to present him with an award! In fairness to Paddy, he has been covering our matches for years and nobody appreciates what he does in wind, rain, hail or snow.
‘Paddy is always available for our matches and we need to appreciate the likes of him as we are going along.’
On a night of multiple awards, the importance of volunteerism within local GAA circles was once again addressed and mentioned as the lifeblood of what keeps the Carbery division going.
‘It is a hard task nowadays getting people to volunteer on behalf of their local GAA club,’ the Carbery chairperson concluded.
‘It is tough at club level, let alone getting people to take up committee positions. Carbery has three new officers, but are still without a PRO at the minute. It is not easy, and people just don’t have the time.
‘It is the way of modern society, but we will keep pushing and encouraging younger people to come in and help the Carbery division in future years.’