On a night that produced copious entertainment on stage — which included Nathan Carter’s younger brother Jake and Tommy Fleming — the winners were announced at midnight, with Staunton missing out on an 11th award which would have made her the most decorated All-Star in the history of the sport.
Winning the full-forward slot however was an equally worthy winner in Sinead Aherne of Dublin, who was among five winners for the All-Ireland finalists, which included an impressive five in-a-row for wing-back Sinead Goldrick. Joining them in the final 15 selection was defender Leah Caffrey, captain Noelle Heally and forward Carla Rowe, as the search now begins to replace their manager Gregory McGonigle, who stepped down last week, for the 2017 season.
The evening belonged to the All-Ireland champions Cork however who picked up the six awards in total out of 11 nominees. Captain Ciara O’Sullivan collected her third All-Star, Brid Stack her seventh, Deirdre O’Reilly her fifth, Marie Ambrose her second, and top scorer all year for the Rebels, Orla Finn collected her first bronze statuette.
Brid Stack also collected the Senior Players’ Player of the Year award, following in the footsteps of Juliet Murphy, Geraldine O’Flynn and Briege Corkery, and Cork have now won the award every year bar one since the inaugural awards in 2011.
National League finalists Mayo were thrilled with midfielder Fiona McHale’s first All-Star given this was her fifth nomination, while Monaghan’s Grainne McNally and Ciara McAnespiea, and Kildare’s Mary Hulgraine made up the final 15.
Meanwhile Mairead Reynolds claimed the Intermediate Players’ Player of the Year award for the All-Ireland champions Longford and Aisling Holton collected the equivalent for the junior All-Ireland champions Kildare.
Tipperary’s Biddy Ryan entered the Hall of Fame, while Amy O’Connor of Mayo collected the Connacht Young Player of the Year, Dearbhla Coleman of Armagh the Ulster Player of the Year, Caoimhe O’Connor of Dublin the Leinster Young Player of the Year, and Kerry’s Fiadhna Tangney the Munster Young Player of the Year.
M Hulgraine (Kildare); M Ambrose (Cork), B Stack (Cork), L Caffrey (Dublin); S Goldrick (Dublin), D O”Reilly (Cork), G McNally (Monaghan); F McHale (Mayo), B Corkery (Cork); N Healy (Dublin), C O’Sullivan (Cork), C Rowe (Dublin); C McAnespie (Monaghan), S Aherne (Dublin), O Finn (Cork). Senior Players’ Player of the Year: Brid Stack (Cork)