BY KIERAN McCARTHY
YOU’RE going to need a bigger trophy cabinet – that’s our advice to two of West Cork’s biggest and brightest sport stars.
While Olympic gold medallist Paul O'Donovan has now won the most monthly awards in the history of the Celtic Ross Hotel West Cork Sports Star Awards, he still trails his closest competitor, Phil Healy, in overall West Cork Sports Star of the Year awards.
The Skibbereen rower edged ahead of Ireland’s fastest woman when he recently accepted his SEVENTH monthly award, while Healy boasts an impressive SIX.
But while O'Donovan holds a slight lead in one race, Healy holds the advantage in the other. The Ballineen Bullet has TWICE been crowned West Cork Sports Star of the Year (2018 and 2020) compared to Paul’s ONE, which he shared with his brother Gary in 2016 after they won silver at the Rio Olympics.
Between O’Donovan and Healy, they have racked up an incredible SIXTEEN awards: 13 monthly awards and three overall awards.
Both O’Donovan and Healy fly the West Cork flag at national and international levels, and their incredible collection of West Cork Sports Star monthly awards highlights how successful both have been – and they are not finished yet.
Both athletes were born in 1994, with O’Donovan exactly seven months older than Healy, so they’re 27 years old now and about to reach their prime years. There’s more to come for both, with the Paris Olympics in 2024 a shared goal, and a lot of major international championships before then.
Healy won her first monthly award in June 2012 and was selected for further monthly awards in 2013, ’16, ’18, ’20 and ’21, as well as her two West Cork Sports Star of the Year awards (‘18 and ’20).
O’Donovan entered this race as a 19-year-old when he scooped the 2013 July award after he won a bronze medal in the lightweight men’s single sculls at the World U23 Rowing Championships in Austria. Since then he has been presented with monthly awards in 2015 (with Gary), twice in 2016 (both with Gary), 2017, 2018 (with Gary) and now in 2021.
Both are now in the running for the overall 2021 West Cork Sports Star of the Year award that will be announced in early 2022. If O’Donovan – along with his partner in the Irish men’s lightweight double, Fintan McCarthy – are selected, then the Lisheen man will join a select group of local sportspeople who have won this overall award twice. Healy (2018 and ’20), camogie legend Jennifer O’Leary (2002 and ’14) and Skibbereen rowers Eugene Coakley and Timmy Harnedy (2003 and ’05) are the only sportspeople to have won two West Cork Sports Star of the Year awards. If Healy is selected, she will become the first ever to win the award three times. They face stiff competition from all the other 2021 monthly award winners, too.
One of the highlights from the recent West Cork Sports Star Awards was when O’Donovan and Healy met for the first time at the 2018 awards in the Celtic Ross Hotel. Healy picked up the overall award that year, while O’Donovan was also in the running. No doubt these two terrific West Cork ambassadors will cross paths again, and hopefully at the 2021 overall awards.