The Oscars of West Cork have celebrated the region’s top sportspeople for 25 years

March 11th, 2023 9:30 AM

By Kieran McCarthy

Monthly award winners pictured at the first West Cork Sports Star Award banquet in February 1999. Front row from left, Brendan Keohane representing his daughter Cora; adjudicators Mary Ryan, Celtic Ross Hotel, and Con Downing, The Southern Star; special guest, Tracey Piggot; Frank Nolan, Celtic Ross Hotel, adjudicator, Paudie Palmer, C103, and overall winner, Gretta Cormican. Back from left, Tommy Murphy, Dominic Casey, John Crowley, Padraig O'Regan, Michael McCarthy, Donal O'Donovan and Michael Keohane.

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‘IT’S LIKE winning an Oscar’ – that’s how Gretta Cormican described winning the first-ever West Cork Sports Star of the Year award.

The world champion bowler from Lyre was crowned the best in the west in 1998, the inaugural year of the awards scheme that has since grown to become the most sought-after accolade in West Cork sport.

The first queen of road bowling also hailed the awards as ‘a super idea’, as the Celtic Ross West Cork Sports Star Awards, from the start, celebrated the success of local sportspeople on local, national and international stages.

Since the first monthly award was presented to Donal O’Donovan in March 1998 – himself and Pat Lordan were the first local crew to win the overall prize in the West Cork Rally – over 330 monthly awards have been presented to West Cork’s finest, covering all sports across this sports-mad region.

Three iconic local brands joined forces in 1998, as the Celtic Ross Hotel approached both The Southern Star and C103 with this idea. It was a no-brainer. Con Downing, now retired editor of The Southern Star, and the late Paudie Palmer, flying the C103 flag, got involved in that first year, 1998, and along with representatives from the Celtic Ross Hotel, were key figures in creating an awards event that has grown in strength and prestige to keep up with the incredible feats of West Cork sportspeople.


The Oscars of West Cork celebrate their 25th anniversary this Saturday night at the 2022 Celtic Ross West Cork Sports Star Awards – and it promises to highlight how rich the sporting tapestry is in this wonderful corner of the country.

The best rowers in the world, Skibbereen’s Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy, will rub shoulders with Mike Keohane, captain of the first Lyre Rovers team to win the West Cork League Beamish Cup. Glengarriff athlete Darragh McElhinney, fresh from his fourth-place finish at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Istanbul, will share the stage with rising Irish hockey star Mark Collins who captained Bandon Grammar School to All-Ireland schoolboys hockey glory in March 2022. These awards always capture and celebrate the successes of the local sportspeople who are the main reason the West Cork Sports Star Awards are going strong after 25 years.

Just to highlight the longevity of the awards, and how ingrained they are in the local sports scene, current Rowing Ireland lightweight coach Dominic Casey won a monthly award in 1998, the first year, and 25 years on his daughter Aoife, a world bronze medalist in 2022, picked up a monthly award.

Gretta Cormican was the very first winner of the Celtic Ross West Cork Sports Star Award in 1998.


The 25th annual gala ceremony will be another celebration of West Cork sport, while also remembering the late Paudie Palmer who passed away in January. He was a cornerstone of the awards since 1998 and, in a nod to his legacy, the overall youth award has been renamed in his memory – rising Cork dual star Millie Condon will be the first recipient of the 2022 Paudie Palmer Youth Award. The dominant Castlehaven ladies football team will accept the 2022 Special Achievement Award, while the trailblazing Skibbereen Rugby Club’s senior women’s side will be crowned the 2022 West Cork Sports Team of the Year. Kilkenny great Brian Cody is guaranteed to have a captive audience as guest speaker while there will be one or two surprises on the night, as well as the crowning of the 2022 West Cork Sports Star of the Year.

Like the Oscars, this is an occasion not to be missed. 

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