Beara ace named Munster Ladies’ Footballer of the Year
OMINOUSLY for defences across the country, Áine Terry O’Sullivan insists there’s more to come from her in 2019.
The Cork forward was named the Ladies’ Footballer of the Year at the Munster GAA Awards at Fota Island Resort on Saturday night, evidence if needed that O’Sullivan is after the best season of her life.
The Allihies woman was a stand-out player for her county and the West Cork divisional team this past season, and while All-Ireland and county silverware eluded her, she has added the provincial award to her trophy cabinet.
‘I was taken aback when I heard I’d won it, to be honest. It’s a great honour,’ O’Sullivan says.
‘There was a nice Cork gang at the awards and that was nice too. It was a good night for Cork in football, hurling, hurling and camogie.’
A good night for Cork GAA, a special one for the Beara woman who played her best football in 2018. Cork boss Ephie Fitzgerald told The Southern Star after the All-Ireland final loss to Dublin, ‘She has got herself really fit this year and there is more to come. If she continues that and keeps herself fit over the winter she will be an even better player next year. That was her best game, she was a real leader, phenomenal, and there is more in her.’
Her improved fitness was one of the reasons that O’Sullivan shone so brightly, scoring 1-2 in the All-Ireland final, while a positional change gave her a new lease of life.
‘I definitely improved in terms of my fitness. I took the gym and nutrition more serious this year and I saw the benefits of that,’ O’Sullivan says.
‘There was a positional change as well and that worked for me. The last few years I was inside full forward whereas this year I was mainly on the wing and then in midfield, and I think that suited me more.
‘I enjoy being more out the pitch too but you need more fitness for that role, and that came from the hard work we did at the start of the year. James Masters and Kevin Tattan (strength and conditioning coach) were great, they were always there to help me along the way.
‘Another reason that helped was that I got a job in Cork in April so that cut out a lot of travelling up and down from Allihies, and they have been very good to me as well and that’s allowed me to focus more on football.
‘This has been the most enjoyable year and it’s been the best football I have played in a few years as well.’
O’Sullivan feels there’s more to come from her and the Rebels next year.
‘If I keep working away consistently, hopefully I can improve my game even more,’ she says.
‘Even for the team, there is more to come. We are a relatively new team, I think there were eight who started in an All-Ireland final for the first time, so we’ll all be aiming to improve more.
‘We will all have to find an extra few per cent in our game to stay in the team and that will help drive us on as well.’
Winning the Munster Ladies’ Footballer of the Year award means a lot to O’Sullivan.
‘When you see some of the players that have won it before like Rena Buckley, Bríd Stack, Deirdre O’Reilly, all players I looked up to when I was younger and I was lucky to get to play with them,’ she said.
‘It’s great to be able to share this with my family because they have been so supportive, they’ve put in so much hard work since I was young, so it’s nice for them to see that it’s all worthwhile.
‘And for Garnish and Beara ladies as well, because without all the training and coaching from Garnish and Beara ladies, I wouldn’t be where I am now, playing football for Cork.
‘I am proud to be representing Allihies, Garnish and Beara and hopefully they are all proud of me as well.’
The full list of Munster GAA Award winners for 2018 are as follows: Sean Hayes (minor hurling), Paul Walsh (minor football), Aoife Murray (camogie), Aine Terry O’Sullivan (ladies’ football), Donal O’Sullivan (U20 football), Mark Coleman (U21 hurling), Seamus Hayes (distinguished service), Ballygunner (club award), Kavan O’Keeffe (handball), Joe McKenna (Hall of Fame hurling), Johnny Hennessey (Hall of Fame hootball), Sean O’Shea (senior football), Seamus Harnedy (senior hurling) and John Kiely (manager).