Clarke, O'Dwyer honoured

ANNETTE Clarke ended an historic season for the Galway ladies' footballers by picking up the Vodafone Player of the Year award in Dublin yesterday.

From the Kilkerrin-Clonberne club, Clarke is the first Galway woman to collect the award, yet another sign that the balance of power is gradually shifting away from its traditional base in Mayo.

Having helped to bring junior All-Ireland and national league titles to Galway in 2002, Clarke steered her side to its first senior All-Ireland last month, over a campaign where they saw off champions Mayo three times before beating Dublin in the final.

"A couple of months ago you could never dream of this happening to you," said the 23-year-old yesterday.

"After winning the All-Ireland in October and to come back six weeks later to collect this is just the icing on the cake.

"It's all about the team performance though. I wouldn't be accepting any award if it wasn't for the other girls. We've put a lot of work in over the last two years in particular, and we knew we had the capability because there's a great underage structure in Galway, there's great talent coming through and all the work we have put in is starting to pay off."

Tipperary's Una O'Dwyer was also in Dublin, picking up the award for camogie's player of the year.

It may have been the Cashel player's first time to receive the accolade, but she was in good company. Fellow teammates Jovita Delaney, Ciara Gaynor and Eimear McDonnell have all previously collected the award.

O'Dwyer also received the Texaco award in Dublin last night, further recognition of what has been another superb season that culminated with a near-perfect display at full-back during the All-Ireland win over Cork as she collected her fifth senior All-Ireland title.

"I don't honestly know if this has been my best year or not," the 23-year-old claimed yesterday.

"You can be lucky because different games could work out differently and you wouldn't be getting the awards.

"The fact that it's the centenary year for camogie makes it that bit more special. The extra trimmings like this are nice but they're not the most important thing."

Meanwhile the nominees for the first ever Camogie All-Stars were announced yesterday. They will be honoured on Saturday, December 4, at a banquet in the CityWest Hotel.

Nominations: Goalkeeper: A Murray (Cork), J Delaney (Tipperary), S Earner (Galway); Backs: U O'Dwyer, S Kelly, S Nealon, C Gaynor, T Brophy, J Kirwan (Tipperary), P O'Connor, M O'Connor, S Dunlea, J O'Callaghan (Cork), M Harkin Carr, S Keane, S Cahalan (Galway), M Leacy, A Codd (Wexford), C Tallon (Kildare), R Collins (Limerick), E Cuddy (Laois); Midfield: K Kelly (Wexford), G O'Connor (Cork), V Sheehan (Limerick), T Maher (Galway), L O'Hara (Dublin), K McAuley (Derry); Forwards: J O'Leary (Cork) F Carr, M McAleenan (Down), C Grogan, D Hughes, J Horan, E McDonnell (Tipperary), AM Hayes, O Kilkenny (Galway), S Millea (Kilkenny), E O'Brien (Limerick), S O'Carroll (Kildare), E Brannigan (Dublin), M Hearne (Wexford), L Glennon (Roscommon), A Lyng (Waterford), C O'Loughlin (Clare), E Mason (Antrim).

International player: A McGeeney (Éire), R O'Neill (An Bhreatain), R O'Reilly (USA).

Young Player: S Gannon (Galway), M Leacy (Wexford), A O'Regan (Cork).

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