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Remembering The Very First Camogie All-Stars Awards

Remembering The Very First Camogie All-Stars Awards
By Rory Cassidy Updated
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The inaugural Camogie All-Star Awards took place in the CityWest Hotel, Dublin in December 2004.

It was the year that camogie celebrated its centenary with Tipperary being crowned the Foras na Gaeilge All-Ireland Senior Camogie champions beating Cork in front of a record attendance at the time for the sport of 24,567 in Croke Park.

It would be the premier county's fifth All-Ireland title in six years, and their most recent, failing to win the O'Duffy Cup since.

In the months that followed Raymie Ryan stepped down as manager after two years in which they won back-to-back All-Ireland's, provincial titles and their first league title since 1977.

Tipperary's successful season saw them land six All-Star awards with Suzanne Kelly, Una O'Dwyer, Ciara Gaynor, Therese Brophy, Claire Grogan and Deirdre Hughes all being honoured.

Defeated finalists Cork saw three players make the team. Goalkeeper Aoife Murray, midfielder Gemma O'Connor and forward Jennifer O'Leary would go on to win a further twenty-four All-Stars between them as the rebels dominated the game in the years that followed.

Wexford, who were defeated in the semi-finals, took three places on the team with Áine Codd, Mary Leacy and Kate Kelly all making the cut.

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Only one player from Ulster made the team. Down's Marian McAleenan. McAleenan led her team to the All-Ireland junior final that year where they were beaten.

RTÉ pundit Ann Marie Hayes and Kilkenny's Sinead Millea also won awards.

Former presenter of 'The Sunday Game' Michael Lyster was one of the MC's on the night, with former Taoiseach and at the time Minister for Finance Brian Cowen presenting the awards alongside President of Cumann Camógaíochta na nGael, now the Camogie Association, Miriam O'Callaghan.

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O'Callaghan and the association held the first 'Lynchpin Awards' in 2003, the predeccesor of the All-Stars.

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"That year we were so engrossed in the celebrations of the centenary itself that it just wasn't feasible to have an All-Star Awards," she tells Balls.ie

"There was huge interest in the Lynchpin Awards, it was sponsored by the Green Isle Hotel in Clondalkin."

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"It (the Lynchpin Awards) just started the ball rolling on the All-Star Awards."

O'Callaghan has fond memories of the first All-Stars that December night in the CityWest.

4 December 2004; Miriam O'Callaghan, President of Cumann Camogaiochta na nGael, speaking at the 2004 Camogie All-Star Awards. Citywest Hotel, Dublin. Picture credit; Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

"That whole centenary year was one roller coaster of celebrations," she says.

"But what I remember was the huge crowd that was there, the energy in the room, the excitement of players and the pride particularly for family members to be there celebrating with their daughters."

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"We were delighted to be able to initiate it," she adds.

"We had a lot of good energy in the association at that time."

O'Callaghan is proud of how the game has grown since and welcomes PwC's sponsorship of the awards.

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"It's brilliant to see that and I think it shows where camogie is in the sporting world at the moment.

"The televising of the games has generated a great interest and the fact that we've changed the rules seems to have gone down very well not only with players but with the spectators and audience.

"I think the game is in a good place and the fact that PwC are on board reflects that."

SEE ALSO: Libby Coppinger - From Junior C Camogie To All-Star?

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