To celebrate TG4’s tenth year sponsoring the Ladies Football Championships, an awards ceremony was held in Croke Park last night, where the TG4 Ladies Football Team of the Decade was announced.
Eight counties were represented on the team but with Cork dominating Ladies Football for most of the last ten years it is no surprise that they were the big winners on the night with an incredible six players on the Team of the Decade. Players from Laois, Mayo, Dublin, Galway, Kerry, Waterford and Monaghan were also honoured.
Nominees for the Team of the Decade consisted of All Star winners from the last ten years in addition to players that had given tremendous service to their counties and to the organisation over the same period.
The Rebelettes honoured last night were Angela Walsh, Rena Buckley, Briege Corkery, Juliet Murphy, Nollaig Cleary and Valerie Mulcahy. Considering they have set the bar for others to follow it is a fair reflection on a team that won five All Ireland titles in a row between 2005 and 2009.
Laois and Mayo were the trailblazers in the early part of the decade and it is only right that their endeavours be recognised with 2010 All Star Tracey Lawlor selected at wing forward for Laois, and Christina Heffernan and Cora Staunton selected at centre forward and corner forward respectively for Mayo.
Waterford have not won a senior All Ireland since 1998 but some of the finest exponents of Ladies Football have represented the Déise and two of those were honoured last night. Rebecca Hallahan was selected at right corner back, while Mary O’Donnell was selected at midfield.
The Jackies have been knocking on Brendan Martins’ door for a while now and their consistency in that regard has also been recognised with their goalkeeper Cliodhna O’Connor named as number one on the Team of the Decade. Cliodhna, who is from the Naomh Mearnóg club, has three runner up medals in her back pocket but it is the winners’ medal from 2010 which she will surely treasure the most.
All Ireland finalists in 2002 and 2008, Monaghan are represented by Jenny Greenan at number six, while 2004 All Ireland Champions Galway are represented by their 2010 captain, Emer Flaherty. Finally, Kerry are represented by one of the all time greats, Geraldine O’Shea at full forward.
Speaking at the Banquet, Pat Quill, Uachtarán Cumann Peil Gael na mBan, reflected on an outstanding partnership over ten years for the Association;
“Ladies Football has seen unprecedented growth over the last decade in particular and while thanks must certainly go to the work of our volunteers, coaches and players on the ground, there is no doubt in my mind but that the exposure garnered through TG4’s sponsorship has been of immeasurable benefit to our Association.
“We thank Pól and everyone in TG4 for their continued support over the last ten years. Not only is TG4 supporting our games at a national level but their facility on tg4.ie means that our games are going global and anything that spreads the gospel is hugely appreciated. Míle buíochas Pól.”
Pól Ó Gallchóir, Ardstiúrthóir, TG4 echoed Pat’s sentiments:
“Dublin’s triumph in late September brought the curtain down on our tenth year sponsoring Ladies Football and we in TG4 are delighted to have once again supported another year of fantastic footballing action.
“As we now look forward to a new year, TG4 will broadcast comprehensive coverage of both the League and the Championship and we are of course thrilled to be sponsoring another year of Championship football across all three grades.
“Guíonn TG4 gach rath ar na daoine ar fad atá bainteach le Cumann Peil na mBan agus gura fada buann an gaol seo eadarainn.”
Team of the Decade:
Cliodhna O’Connor (Dublin); a member of the Naomh Mearnóg in Portmarnock, Cliodhna had three runners up medals before Dublin’s 2010 All Ireland triumph. O’Connor has two All Stars and works as an Urban Programme Officer for Ladies Football.
Right Corner Back:
Rebecca Hallahan (Waterford); a two time All Star, the teacher from Ballymacarbry is one of the most decorated players in Ladies Football with three All-Ireland Senior medals to her name. In addition, Hallahan also has three National League medals and six All Ireland Club titles.
Angela Walsh (Cork); the Inch Rovers player has won five All Stars and five All-Ireland Senior medals. A PE Teacher be profession, Angela recently played a starring role as Inch Rovers won the All Ireland Club title for the first time in their history.
Left Corner Back:
Rena Buckley (Cork); dual player Rena is a five time All-Ireland Senior football winner and three time All Star. Rena is a physiotherapist and a Donoghmore club member.
Right Half Back:
Briege Corkery (Cork); a St Valentines club member who is a Stone Mason by trade, Corkery has five All-Ireland Senior medals, four All Stars and four National League medals to her name.
Centre Half Back:
Jenny Greenan (Monaghan); one of the all time greats, Greenan is a seven time All Star and two time All-Ireland Senior medalist. Greenan hails from Aghabog and is a Parliamentary Assistant.
Left Half Back:
Emer Flaherty (Galway); Galway’s captain in 2010 when they won Connacht and contested the National League Final, Emer is a Primary School teacher who has won an All-Ireland Senior medal and two All Stars.
Juliet Murphy (Cork); a cornerstone of the Cork team that have taken Ladies Football by storm, Juliet is a Donoughmore club member with five All-Ireland Senior medals and four All Stars to her name. She is a Primary School teacher by profession.
Mary O’Donnell (Waterford); an Accountant by trade, O’Donnell has four All Stars, an All-Ireland Senior Medal and an International Rules medal to her name. Over the years, the Old Parish club member has also received a Lucozade Player of the Month Award and a Granville Hotel Sports Star of the Month Award.
Right Half Forward:
Nollaig Cleary (Cork); a Gabriel Rangers club member who has won three All Stars and five All-Ireland Senior medals to her name. Cleary is a National School teacher who also has two New York Championship medals and a Lucozade Player of the Month Award.
Centre Half Forward:
Christina Heffernan (Mayo); another highly decorated player, the seven time All Star has four All Ireland Senior medals and plays her club football with Hollymount. Heffernan who works as a HSE Registrar, also has an International rules medal.
Left Half Forward:
Tracey Lawlor (Laois); a 2010 All Star, Tracey is an All-Ireland Senior medal winner with three All Stars in total to her name. She is an Accountant and plays her club football with Mountmellick Sarsfields.
Right Corner Forward:
Valerie Mulcahy (Cork); a club member of Rockbán, Valerie has three All Stars and five All-Ireland Senior medals to her name. She also has a Texaco Sports Star Award and a Vodafone Player of the Year Award.
Geraldine O’Shea (Kerry); one of the all time greats of Kerry and Ladies Football, the Corca Dhuibhne native is an All-Ireland Senior medal winner with five All Stars and two Munster medals. O’Shea works as a Sales Assistant.
Left Corner Forward:
Cora Staunton (Mayo); a seven time All Star who has four All-Ireland Senior medals to her name, Staunton works as a Primary Health Care Coordinator and plays her club football with Carnacon, winners of three All Ireland club titles in recent years.