WHO will emerge from the chasing pack and emerge as this year’s winning of the Ladies Footballer of the Year award?
Some brilliant footballers have received the award in recent years. Donaghmoyne’s Cathriona McConnell – again a major contender – landed last year’s trophy while Termon’s shooting star Geraldine McLaughlin took the plaudits in 2018. Before that, Donaghmoyne stalwart Sharon Courtney (2018), Shannon McQuaid of St Macartan’s (2017) and Aimee Mackin (Shane O’Neill’s) were named as the winners in our annual Gaelic Life Club All-Stars ceremony.
It’s never easy to pick a winner but there are some leading contenders. As always, Donaghmoyne have plenty of horses in the race. There’s the aforementioned Cathriona McConnell, star midfielder Cora Courtney, half-back Eimear Traynor (nominated for our dual player of the year award) and that’s not forgetting Niamh Callan, who captained the team to the All-Ireland final just a few short months ago.
Elsewhere at senior level, Moneyglass, who lost out in the Ulster final, have a few names more than worthy of a shout. Orlaith Prenter, for example, was ludicrously good, shooting the lights out time and time again, and Cathy Carey is arguably the spiritual leader of the team. That’s without mentioning goalkeeper Anna McCann and defender Niamh McIntosh who were also top-notch for the Antrim side.
Ulster Intermediate Champions Derrygonnelly will be in the reckoning as well. Forward star Eimear Smyth is well-accustomed to winning individual awards already, while Emma Burns (midfield) and Andrea Gordon have also already been named in our ladies team of the year.
Castleblayney duo Hazel Hughes and Jodie McQuillan will also be the hunt. The Monaghan side had a brilliant year and won the Ulster Junior Championship, and it’s fair to say that they were the team’s two best performers. Orlagh Gavin from Clonoe and Rebecca Fitzsimons from Castlerahan-Denn also excelled on the club front, so they can’t be forgotten either.
So who will it be? In a way, we’re spoilt for choice, but that makes it even more difficult to settle on one particular player. Whoever it will be though, will follow in the footsteps of a lengthy list of players who have deservedly won our Ladies Footballer of the Year award.