Brothers Paudie and David Clifford have been named Munster Footballers of the year for 2023.
After winning their 5th Munster title in a row followed by their fourth All-Ireland title in succession, John Kiely has been named as Manager of the Year for the fourth time since 2015. Other award winners include Roisin Ambrose (Ladies Footballer of the Year) and Ben Cunningham (Under 20 Hurler of the Year).
The 2023 Munster GAA awards function will take place this Saturday in the Muckross Park Hotel Killarney.
Joint Senior Footballers of the Year – Paudie and David Clifford (Kerry)
In what has been a huge year on and off the pitch for the Clifford family, it is only right that these brothers be recognised for the fantastic ambassadors they are for Kerry GAA. Coming off a dream run with Fossa GAA in early January when they claimed their first All-Ireland Club title and then straight back into the senior set up, there is certainly no lack of work ethic here. Of course, it would be remiss of us not to mention and remember with fondness their fabulous mother Ellen who passed away in May, but her love of GAA was passed on to all three of her children and every time they play, the heart and passion that they show speaks to her memory.
For Paudie, known for his powerful running through the field, his ability to pinpoint the most accurate of passes and of course the sense that when he is on the ball, he is almost conducting the game – pointing to fellow players where to run and finding the smallest pockets of space, this year saw massive performances from him and earned him his third consecutive All Star Award. His passion and drive know no bounds and he is always there to encourage teammates and give momentum when it is most needed. Paudie rises when there are scores needed for Kerry and can kick off both feet, however, his fingerprints can be found on many of the team’s scores this year as he works the ball up the pitch and finds players with his passes. Off the pitch, Paudie is extremely humble and always willing to give his time to fans both young and old and is a shining example for all young Gaelic Games players. We wish to congratulate Paudie on all that he has achieved this year and wish him every success in all his endeavours for 2024.
David is another powerhouse of the GAA and produced heroic performances for Kerry this year. When David attacks it seems as though the football is just an extension of him, and he doesn’t need to break stride to solo or hop the ball as he bypasses defenders. From high fielding and almost uncatchable marks to top class finishes in the back of the net, David’s skillset knows no bounds. Scoring huge points from outside the ’45 metre line to managing to squeeze kicks over the black spot through numerous defenders, the most striking thing about David is his selflessness and how for him it’s always about the team. David will rise when Kerry need him to, but he will also win ball and pass it off to teammates in better scoring positions. This year being named as PWC/GPA Footballer of the Year for the second year in a row really validates the ability of this young man. His skill can only be matched by his humility and David is always willing to give his time and attention to fans and to be the amazing ambassador that he is for Kerry GAA.
Manager of the Year – John Kiely (Limerick)
John Kiely’s prowess as a hurling manager first came to light when he led Limerick to Munster and All-Ireland Under 21 honours in 2015. Prior to that he had guided an unheralded Limerick team to the threshold of Munster Intermediate honours in 2011.
On joining John Allen’s backroom, he was an integral cog in the management team that guided Limerick to Munster Senior Hurling honours in 2013.
John Kiely does not follow standards, he sets them and that has been borne out since his appointment as Limerick Senior Hurling Manager in 2017. Long suffering and success starved Limerick supporters could not have imagined the impact he was to make on the hurling landscape and how his leadership would lift the morale of a county despairing that hurling’s most precious silverware, the Liam MacCarthy, would ever return to Shannonside.
His record is unapparelled as a Senior Intercounty Manager, five All-Ireland finals, five Munster finals and three Allianz Hurling League finals without tasting defeat.
A natural leader, fame rests lightly on the Galbally native’s shoulders who is ever ready to spread around the credit for Limerick’s great odyssey to others.
John Kiely is very worthy recipient of the Manager of the Year accolade.
Ladies Footballer of the Year – Róisin Ambrose (Limerick)
Róisin plays with the Old Mill club in Limerick and has helped them to win the Limerick Junior (2018) and Intermediate (2019) County Championships.
Róisin’s time in UL was marked by a dual commitment to camogie and football. She was lucky enough to achieve great success, winning 2 Ashbourne Cup medals and 2 O’Connor Cup medals. In 2022, she was honoured with a HEC All-Star Award.
Róisin made her debut with the Limerick team in 2018 when she helped the Shannonsiders to win the All-Ireland Junior title. Róisin initially played at half-forward for Limerick but has transitioned to midfield in recent years where she has flourished, being named as Team captain for the last 2 seasons. She was named on the Team of the League in 2022 and 2023 and this year, was nominated for Junior Players’ Player of the Year and earned a spot on the Team of the Championship 2023.
Under 20 Hurler of the Year – Ben Cunningham (Cork)
It’s been a fantastic few months for this outstanding young hurler, beginning back in October ’22 as he played a starring role as St Finbarr’s were crowned County Senior Hurling champions beating old rivals Blackrock in the final, and Ben at 19 years of age was named player of the match.
Fast forward to April of this year as Cork began their Munster Under 20 Hurling campaign, and Ben was to be a key player.
Cork went through the group phase unbeaten and faced Clare in the Final and here he delivered a man of the match display as Cork won a thriller 1-23 to 1-21, with Ben hitting 0-9.
It was a similar tally in the All-Ireland Final as Offaly were beaten 2-22 to 3-13 before a huge crowd in Thurles.
In fact Ben finished the Championship with a total score of 2-54 in six games.
Ben also featured with the Cork senior team in the Co-Op Superstores Munster Hurling League and the Allianz Hurling League, and he is a player with a bright future ahead of him in the blue of the ‘Barrs and the ‘red and white’ of Cork.