Kerry’s Stephen O’Brien has rounded off an impressive year by being selected as the 2019 Munster Senior Footballer of the Year. Borris-Ileigh have been selected as the Munster Club of the Year after bridging a 33 year gap to win both the Tipperary and Munster Senior Hurling titles.
Other awards announced were the Handball Person of the Year Christy Philpott (Clare), Minor Hurler of the Year, Cathal O’Neill (Limerick) and Minor Footballer of the Year Shane Meehan (Clare). The remaining award winners will be announced during this week.
The awards will be presented on Saturday night at a gala dinner in the Castletroy Park Hotel where all the award winners for 2019 will be honoured.
Senior Footballer of the Year – Stephen O’Brien (Kerry)
In a year when Kerry came so close to taking back Sam Maguire, the part played by Kenmare Shamrock’s Stephen O’Brien would be hugely significant.
The 2014 All-Ireland medal holder was vital to Peter Keane in a Munster campaign where Clare and Cork provided tough obstacles.
Against Clare the Kenmare speedster proved a class apart and despite not getting on the score sheet on what was a tense evening in Ennis for the Kerry men he was involved in almost all of Kerry’s scores.
It was O’Brien again that shone brightest in the Munster Senior Football Final. His pace and direct running put the Rebels on the back foot for most of that hugely entertaining Provincial Final in which Kerry sneaked past their hosts 1-19 to 3-10 with O’Brien chipping in two points in his deserved Man of the Match performance as he picked up his sixth Senior Munster Football Championship medal.
O’Brien currently has 1 All-Ireland Senior 2014, 1 Allianz League 2017, 6 Munster Senior 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 1 Sigerson Cup UCC 2011, 1 Cork County Championship UCC 2011, Kerry and Munster Junior Football Club Championship 2012, Kerry and Munster Intermediate Club Championship 2016.
Club of the Year – Borris-Ileigh (Tipperary)
If as by destiny, the people of Borris-Ileigh parish found unity and a collective spirit after all they went through, which has shone like a beacon on a new dawn of hope and remembrance. In their County campaign they set out their stall, it was measured and timed to perfection as they bridged a 33-year gap to claim their 7th County title.
Then, the Munster campaign beckoned, with a Semi-Final berth secured against Glen Rovers. An impressive start had the Borris’ men in firm control and though the Glen found their feet and rallied, Borris-Ileigh held out for a narrow victory. This was probably their key result as it opened the gateway to Munster success.
Ranked as outsiders for that Munster showpiece, Borris-Ileigh tossed the formbook out the window on the way to victory. Each to a man hustled and harried with every muscle straining by the sinew as they carved a way through the Ballygunner resistance to also bridge a 33-year gap for Provincial honours.
Handball Person of the Year – Christy Philpott (Clare)
Christy got involved in Handball when his son Christopher started playing the game as a Juvenile. Shortly after, he completed GAA Handball Coaching Courses to get involved in a Coaching capacity. He has been a member of the successful Kilkishen Handball Club for 20 years.
One such role included Christy being Manager of the Boys Under 14/15 All-Ireland winning Clare team of 6. Christy has travelled internationally to Calgary, Portland and last year to Minneapolis as part of the Irish contingent including his very talented and successful daughter Chloe, competing in the World Handball Championships. At Club level, Christy also managed a winning All-Ireland Kilkishen Féile na nGael girls’ team. He had further success as Manager of a boys and a girls Club team with All-Ireland Community Games Handball Titles.
In 2017, Christy was appointed as Coach and Manager of the Munster Ladies Interprovincial Team of 10 competing in both 40×20 and 60×30 Handball Championships. In 2018 the Munster Girls took the All-Ireland 60×30 Title and this year went on to do the Double, claiming both All-Ireland 40×20 and 60×30 Interprovincial Titles. Juveniles on the team range from Under 13 to Under 17 years with representation across Munster.
Counties train together in the Province with dedication and commitment which contributed to the National success under the expertise of Manager Christy Philpott. Working alongside Christy was Martin Spain (Tipperary) Marie Millane (Clare), Margaret Walsh (Cork). Christy also acknowledges their efforts along with Munster GAA Handball for their continued support for ladies Handball in Munster.
Minor Hurler of the Year – Cathal O’Neill (Limerick)
Cathal O’Neill epitomizes what Minor Inter-County Hurling should be about. Cathal has all of the necessary skills for hurling, pace, touch, awareness, strength and above all hard work. Throughout the campaign, Cathal worked tirelessly for his team, indeed showing nerves of steel in hitting a crucial free to secure a draw versus Waterford and displaying Man of the Match performances versus Tipperary and in the Munster Final versus Clare.
Cathal captained Limerick on the day further supplying evidence of the standing that he has among his peers as a top performer. Cathal also has an understated personality off the field and is quite humble in the very plaudits that have been bestowed on him over the last number of years. Cathal has also been selected in consecutive years on the All-Ireland Minor Electric All Star Team which is a further indicator of the consistency of performance over the last number of years.
Minor Footballer of the Year – Shane Meehan (Clare)
Shane has for the past two seasons led the line for both the Clare Minor Hurlers and Footballers with a number of sterling displays. He is a member of the Banner GAA club in the town of Ennis and attends Ennis CBS. Shane was selected on the Electric Ireland Minor Hurling team of the year for 2019 following a second year on the Clare Minor Hurling team and was the Clare Minor Football captain for 2019. Shane will miss out selection for next year minor grade by three weeks. Shane has one brother Darren and one sister Ciara.
Shane has played a grand total of 21 times, starting in every game for the past two seasons for both Minor squads. Highlights for Shane and his colleagues included reaching Munster Final 2018 in Football and Munster Final 2019 in Hurling. Shane has moved up the grades to Under 20 and will be one of the emerging stars of Clare GAA in the coming seasons.