The camogie All-Star nominations were announced this week, and Niall McCoy looks at the players leading the roll of honour since the first awards back in 2003
Gemma O’Connor (Cork) -Eleven
THE greatest camog to ever play the game? Eleven All-Stars would certainly suggest so. Retired in February 2021 having won nine All-Ireland titles in 19 years, the St Finbarr’s player stood up in some tight All-Ireland finals, particularly at Kilkenny’s expense. An icon of the game, her first All-Ireland title came in 2002 playing wing half-back with her last some 16 years later to round off a simply sensational career in the red and white.
Kate Kelly (Wexford) – Nine
THE top half of the list is very Cork heavy, but it’s Wexford’s Kate Kelly who is second on the list with an astonishing nine All-Star awards. In 2007, she helped Wexford win their first All-Ireland title in 32 years and she quickly added three more. Her individual brilliance was not ignored either with the player receiving a total of 12 All-Star nominations throughout her career. Was named Player of the Year as the Model County ended that long wait for glory back in ’07.
Aoife Murray (Cork) – Eight
ANOTHER Cork legend, and another Player of the Year having picked up the gong in 2008. Her first All-Star award arrived in 2004 with the last coming just six years ago. The former Rebel captain put so much effort into her sport and had to commute from Dublin to Cork for years for training, but she got the rewards for doing so. The goalkeeper was Player of the Match in the 2009 final as Cork defeated Kilkenny.
Jennifer Curry (Cork) – Eight
SHE may have worn the orange and white of Armagh in recent years, but Jennifer Curry, nee O’Leary, made her name with season after season of excellence with a dominant Cork side. Missed out on a couple of All-Ireland titles having spent some time in Australia, but still ended up with four winning medals and double that in All-Star awards. Did most of her good work in the half-forward line but has played deeper at times for the Orchard County and, unsurprisingly, has brought real class to the team.
Sarah Dervan (Galway) – Seven
THE first Galway player on the list, Dervan has seven All-Stars to her name and Galway fans will be wondering will the player feature in 2024 to try and add to her tally. The Mullagh defender won successive awards in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 – an impressive feat. Hard not to feel that her presence could have made a big difference as the Tribe County lost out to eventual champions Cork in the 2023 semi-final.
Niamh Kilkenny (Galway) – Seven
ANOTHER Galway player sadly missed by Tribe fans in 2023, but whatever happens from here, she owes her county absolutely nothing. Was first recognised for her individual brilliance in 2010 and three more All-Stars followed in the next three seasons. Her fifth gong arrived in 2015 with success in 2019 and 2021 also. The 2019 campaign was particularly special as Kilkenny was also named Player of the Year.
Denise Gaule (Kilkenny) – Six
DENISE Gaule really caught the eye in 2009 when she was named Young Player of the Year but she would have to wait to 2016 for her first All-Star. London buses and all that though, as Gaule claimed six awards in the next seven years. The player could very well move onto seven in November having been named among the nominees for the 2023 awards earlier this week and when she does finally hang up the boots, she’s sure to be higher up this list.
Anna Geary (Cork) – Six
NOW a TV personality, Geary moved into the entertainment industry with an incredible sporting CV to her name. The Milford player retired from the inter-county scene at just 27 years of age and no doubt would have added to her half dozen tally had she played on for a few more seasons. Geary made her debut in 2003 and gave exemplary service to her county.
Briege Corkery (Cork) – Six
WITH 16 – yes, 16 – All-Stars to her name, Briege Corkery is one the most decorated players to ever play any form of GAA. On top of those 16 awards were 18 All-Irelands as she became a superstar at camogie and ladies football. While she enjoyed slightly more success with the latter, she did have a brilliant camogie career, winning her first All-Star in 2006 and her last in 2015.
Catherine O’Loughlin (Wexford) – Six
ALWAYS in the conversation when discussing the best camogie full-back of all time, Wexford’s Catherine O’Loughlin is one of their most decorated players. ‘Locky’ played in the golden era for the Model County when they won four All-Ireland titles between 2007 and 2012 having won only three in the rest of their history. O’Loughlin’s defensive solidity was key to that, and she was duly rewarded.
Katrina Mackey (Cork) – Six
THE Mackeys are indeed a talented bunch with Katrina winning six All-Stars and twin sister Pamela four. The Douglas dynamo ain’t done yet either as she has been nominated for another award having helped the Rebels to this year’s crown. Experienced to the hilt and one of the most dangerous forwards in the game.
Orla Cotter (Cork) – Six
ANOTHER Cork player with half a dozen All-Stars to her name, Cotter knows she could have had even more with a sojourn to America taking her away from the county scene for a while. Her first award came in 2008 and then she picked up five in a row between 2014 and 2018. A real leader.
Ann Dalton (Kilkenny) – Six
WHEN Ann Dalton announced her retirement in January 2021, one of the real big names of the game was departing the scene. The return of two O’Duffy Cups seems quite low, but Dalton’s efforts were crucial as she had two Player of the Year awards to go with her All-Stars.