WINNING the 2020 Celtic Ross Hotel West Cork Sports Star Team of the Year Award was a fitting end to an unforgettable season according to West Cork captain Áine Terry O’Sullivan.
O’Sullivan had the honour of raising the Cork LGFA senior football championship cup for the first time in the rural division’s history following another epic battle with Mourneabbey last September.
Captained by the Allihies native, O’Sullivan helped West Cork overcome their arch rivals 4-9 to 2-13 and claim a first-ever senior crown.
Adding the Celtic Ross Hotel West Cork Sports Star Team of the Year Award to the trophy cabinet was the icing on the cake last Sunday night.
‘Everyone associated with the West Cork ladies football senior panel was delighted when we got the news,’ O’Sullivan says.
‘It is a nice reward considering all the hard work that has gone in not just last year but over the previous five years. Obviously, we were delighted to win the Cork senior county championship and this West Cork Sports Star Team of the Year award is the icing on the cake.
‘We had girls from all over West Cork involved. It is a lovely honour for those players, their families and especially their clubs. Disappointingly, we did not have the chance to meet up and celebrate together last weekend. We will make sure to put that right sometime in the future and it will be another reason to celebrate a prestigious award.’
Naturally, the West Cork players accepted deserved plaudits for their Sports Star Team of the Year award at last Sunday night’s virtual event. West Cork’s management team comprising of Brian McCarthy, Anne O’Grady, Michelle Dullea and James O’Mahony also received deserved recognition.
‘Absolutely, the West Cork management team were as much a part of our success as the players were,’ O’Sullivan says.
‘They have been there since the start when the West Cork division first started playing in the county championship. There was a huge amount of time and effort put in by management to make sure players from all the different clubs got together for training and matches.
‘That’s why I believe the Team of the Year Award reflects all the work that they put in. I know that they are as delighted as the players are with the award.’
O’Sullivan is the first to admit that West Cork’s senior county championship success didn’t happen overnight. It took gradual improvements, year on year, before Brian McCarthy’s side finally overcame Mourneabbey.
‘Things were definitely more difficult when it came to preparations in previous years because so many girls were playing championship with their clubs and others were involved with Cork,’ the West Cork captain explains.
‘As a division, it is incredibly difficult to get everyone together in the one place at the one time, even for a training session. Over the last few years, we have gelled together as a team that bit more. We had more time to train together last year and that was a massive help in terms of our preparations.
‘It was still tough with all the club games going on. Our training sessions were particularly good this year, they had to be if we were going to have any hope of beating Mourneabbey in the county final. The players really enjoyed last year though. Looking back at 2020, it was such a strange and difficult year, winning a first every senior county title was definitely one of the highlights.’
The September 19th, 2020 edition of the Southern Star produced an iconic photograph on the front page of the newspaper’s sports section. Anne Marie Cronin’s photo of Áine Terry O’Sullivan standing triumphantly with the Cork LGFA SFC cup in front of a magnificent backdrop of her native Allihies represented a lasting memory from the most unusual of years.
West Cork’s captain hopes the photograph is something that future Beara and other West Cork ladies’ footballers might use for inspiration, especially in a year the West Cork Sports Star Awards honoured so many female athletes.
‘That was such a lovely photograph even though it was a small bit foggy that particular day,’ O’Sullivan recalls.
‘The sun was shining that morning before the fog crept in but it will always be a lovely photo to look back on. It was strange all the same coming back to Allihies with the cup and no squad to help celebrate the win. That will come yet, someday. If there are any young girls in Beara, or anywhere from West Cork for that matter, looking at the photograph, hopefully it might inspire them to go on and represent their ladies football club, division and county sometime in the future.’
‘That was the great thing about this year’s West Cork Sports Awards, it was brilliant to see so many female sports stars being honoured. West Cork ladies football and camogie enjoyed a terrific year and that’s why there were four captains nominated as a monthly award winner. That was fantastic.
‘Then you have Phil Healy doing absolutely brilliant stuff on the international stage. It just shows the talent that is in West Cork and how it is improving all the time. That’s fantastic for anyone who is interested in sport and growing up in West Cork. To have all these sporting personalities doing so well will hopefully help inspire the next generation of talent.’
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