John McGrath is the first player in 50 years to win the Tipperary United Sports Panel's hurling and football awards in the same year. Picture: Michael P Ryan/Sportsfile
Loughmore Castleiney’s all-conquering season in the county senior hurling and football championships has been acknowledged by the Tipperary United Sports Panel, which each year presents the Tipperary amateur sports stars of the year with the Annerville awards.
Dual player John McGrath and Frankie McGrath, the manager of both teams, are among the sports stars honoured with awards, which are sponsored by Bulmers.
John McGrath’s sequence of man of the match performances, as well as his match-winning scores in the county football final and the replayed county hurling final, has earned him the Sports Panel’s hurling and football awards. The last player to achieve such a distinction was Michael Babs Keating fifty years ago.
Frankie McGrath, meanwhile, receives the Sean Lyons Sports Executive award for guiding a panel of players that played on 17 consecutive weekends to claim a unique county championship double that they last won eight years ago.
Camogie is celebrating on the double this year. The Knocknagow Award, which each year is presented to an outstanding sportsperson of the past, goes to Anne Carroll. She was twice an All-Ireland medalist and the outstanding personality in the first decade of the history of the All-Ireland senior club camogie championship, winning medals with two different counties - St Patrick’s, Glengoole from Tipperary and St Paul’s from Kilkenny.
She also played inter-county camogie for both Tipperary and Kilkenny and interprovincial camogie for both Munster and Leinster.
In the modern game Mary Ryan (pictured above) is regarded as one of the country’s best defenders and the Moneygall player has won the Annerville camogie award. An All-Star winner for the first time last year, she was nominated again this year and has occasionally been described as “a pillar of defence” and “inspirational and dominant” in the Tipperary senior team.
The pandemic forced the Sports Panel to miss out on its awards last year but two special awards have been introduced to this year’s list to recognise significant achievements in 2020.
The Tipperary football team that played on Bloody Sunday 101 years ago has been honoured posthumously with the 2020 Knocknagow Award. This award will be presented to GAA headquarters in Croke Park.
And the Tipperary football team that won the county’s first Munster senior championship title in 85 years has been honoured with the Outstanding Achievement for 2020 award.
Clonmel rower Daire Lynch (pictured above) is recognised for the second year in-a-row, after he put Tokyo Olympic gold medalists Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy and Rio silver medalist Gary O’Donovan in the shade when finishing ahead of all three rowers to win the senior men’s single scull national championship.
He was also a reserve on the Irish men’s double scull team at the Tokyo Olympics.
Special Achievement award winner Rosemary Gaffney was another Tipperary athlete who represented her country in Tokyo during the past twelve months, when she competed at the Paralympic Games in Para Dressage.
Above: Billy O'Donoghue
The Jimmy Cooney Lifetime Achievement award has been won by Billy O’Donoghue, a 78-year-old Clonmel man who is still refereeing local soccer matches at adult (junior) and underage level, some 34 years after he took charge of his first match.
Golf award winner Donncha Cleary from the Tipperary Club won the Irish Under 16 boys championship after a six-hole play-off at Cahir Park, while the Motorsport winner, Roscrea’s Nicole Drought, had another highly successful year behind the wheel, making a successful debut with Hyundai in the Britcar series on the Silverstone Grand Prix track.
Horse racing has returned to the honours list for the first time in 18 years, thanks to the exploits of Liz Lalor. The Clonmel jockey hit the 108 winners mark to equal Helen Bryce-Smith’s record for the most point to point winners ridden by an Irish woman.
2021 was the year when rugby winner Dorothy Wall established herself as a fixture in the Irish women’s rugby team, scoring her first international try, against Wales in the Six Nations, while also lining out with Ireland’s Sevens team.
21 years after she made her debut in an Irish vest, Thurles woman Grainne Dwyer receives the basketball award, having extended her international career during the year when captaining the Irish senior team in the Eurobasket 2023 qualifiers against Holland and the Czech Republic.
Cashel’s Caoimhe Perdue (pictured above left), the winner of the hockey award, is joint captain of the Irish junior (U21) team. The world cup in which they had qualified to compete in South Africa this month has been postponed because of the pandemic.
Instead, Caoimhe and the Irish team are taking part in a four nations tournament in Valencia in Spain this week along with England, The Netherlands and the host country.
Equestrian star Max Watson followed in the footsteps of his father, Clonmel man John Watson, by competing at the Olympic Games.
And it was another year of highs for Clonmel athlete Sean Tobin, who reached the 3,000 metres final by setting a personal best for the distance at the European Indoor Championships.
Above: Aoife Hanrahan
Yet another woman to be recognised, Clonmel’s Aoife Hanrahan, made history in Paris in October when winning Ireland’s first-ever women’s medal at the European Freestyle Kayak Championships, creating for herself the huge honour of being the first Irish woman to stand on a podium at an International Canoe Federation event.
The Annerville awards will be presented at the Clonmel Park Hotel on a date to be confirmed in the New Year.
The members of the Tipperary United Sports Panel are chairman, Muiris Walsh, Clonmel; vice chairman, Eamonn Wynne, Clonmel; secretary, Seamus King, Cashel; treasurer, Ken Conway, Clonmel.
Committee - Liam O’Donnchu, Littleton; Johnny O’Loughlin, Richie Blanche, Davy Hallinan, Connie Carroll and Tommy Looby (all Clonmel); and Seamus McCarthy (Bansha).
The full list of winners is
Athletics: Sean Tobin
Basketball: Grainne Dwyer
Camogie: Mary Ryan
Equestrian: Max Watson
Gaelic Football: John McGrath
Golf: Donncha Cleary
Hockey: Caoimhe Perdue
Horse Racing: Liz Lalor
Hurling: John McGrath
Kayaking: Aoife Hanrahan
Motorsport: Nicole Drought
Rowing: Daire Lynch
Rugby Union: Dorothy Wall
Special Achievement: Rosemary Gaffney
Sean Lyons Sports Executive: Frankie McGrath
Jimmy Cooney Lifetime Achievement: Billy O’Donoghue
Knocknagow Award: Anne Carroll
Outstanding Achievement for 2020: Tipperary senior football team
Special Knocknagow Award: Tipperary senior football team Bloody Sunday 1920.
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.