AHEAD of tonight’s TG4 Ladies Football All-Star banquet at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin, we take a look at five players who should have won an All-Star but didn’t.
1. Fiona McHale (Mayo)
For the past number of years McHale has been at the crux of Mayo’s performances alongside 10-time All-Star winner Cora Staunton. However, despite a number of nominations over the years, McHale has been up against some of the best midfielders in the history of the game.
Among them are Briege Corkery and Rena Buckley, who between them have 22 senior All-Ireland football medals, three-time All-Ireland-winning captain Juliet Murphy, as well as Tracey Lawlor of Laois and Caroline O’Hanlon of Armagh.
McHale, a member of the WGPA executive, is in the running for a bronze statuette on Saturday, and should she win, it’ll be a much deserved first for the Carnacon woman.
2. Amanda Murphy (Cork)
Having joined the Cork senior team as a 15-year-old, Amanda Murphy was a rising star in the game in the early Noughties.
Based in Beara, Murphy would complete a six-hour round trip to train in Cork city under Eamonn Ryan, however by 2008 – with four Celtic Crosses in her back pocket – Murphy surprisingly called it a day on her intercounty career aged just 19. Incredibly, by then, she had played in 13 All-Ireland football finals, from U14 to senior.
Murphy was nominated for an All-Star in 2005 and 2008, however she never made the starting 15.
3. Bernie Breen (Kerry)
Like Fiona McHale of Mayo, Breen has been unlucky to feature in a pool of top-class midfielders over the last decade or so. This season was one her best to-date in the provincial stages, however the Kerry veteran isn’t among the 45 nominees on this year’s shortlist, which also doesn’t factor in Dublin forward Niamh McEvoy.
In 2010, Breen came close to winning an All-Star however she lost out to Denise Masterson of the reigning All-Ireland champions Dublin and Tracey Lawlor of Laois.
3. Lindsay Peat (Dublin)
Former Dublin forward Lindsay Peat was unlucky not to have won an award in 2014 for Dublin, and her omission in fact involved some controversy. Herself and Valerie Mulcahy – who had won the 2014 National League final and All-Ireland final MVP that season – were both expected to win All-Stars, however it didn’t transpire, with Peat’s teammates Lyndsay Davey and Sinead Aherne selected in the full-forward line alongside Down’s Aileen Pyers.
Having since retired from intercounty football, Peat will now line out on Sunday for the Irish women’s rugby team against England at UCD Bowl (2pm).
5. Maura Kelly (Tyrone)
Kelly was inspirational in Tyrone’s journey in reaching the 2010 All-Ireland final. A feisty defender, Kelly – who is married to Tyrone footballer Ryan McMenamin – has won four Ulster Senior Championship titles, a junior All-Ireland title and one Division 2 National League title.
She was nominated a number of times for TG4 All-Star awards, however never got the nod from the selection committee. She has since retired.
Others All-Star misses: Aine Tighe (Letrim), Sinéad Burke (Galway), Amy O’Shea (Cork) and Sarah Connolly and Caroline Donnelly (Tyrone).
2016 TG4 All-Star nominees: Goalkeepers: Martina O’Brien (Cork), Mary Hulgraine (Kildare), Noelle Gormley (Sligo); Defenders: Laurie Ryan (Clare), Marie Ambrose (Cork), Vera Foley (Cork), Róisín Phelan (Cork), Deirdre O’Reilly (Cork), Bríd Stack (Cork), Leah Caffrey (Dublin), Olwen Carey (Dublin), Sinead Finnegan (Dublin), Sinead Goldrick (Dublin), Deirdre Foley (Donegal), Ciara Hegarty (Donegal), Sarah Tierney (Mayo), Aoife McAnespie (Monaghan), Gráinne McNally (Monaghan), Jennifer Grant (Tipperary), Linda Wall (Waterford), Mairead Wall (Waterford); Midfielders: Rena Buckley (Cork), Briege Corkery (Cork), Louise Henchy (Clare), Aisling Holton (Kildare), Fiona McHale (Mayo), Sharon Courtney (Monaghan); Forwards: Aisling Doonan (Cavan) Orla Finn (Cork), Ciara O’Sullivan (Cork), Annie Walsh (Cork), Sinead Aherne (Dublin), Lyndsey Davey (Dublin), Noelle Healy (Dublin), Carla Rowe (Dublin), Niamh Hegarty (Donegal), Sarah Houlihan (Kerry), Róisín Byrne (Kildare), Niamh Kelly (Mayo), Cora Staunton (Mayo), Yvonne McMonagle (Donegal), Ciara McAnespie (Monaghan), Maria Delahunty (Waterford), Aileen Wall (Waterford), Leona Archibold (Westmeath).
Senior Players’ Player of the Year nominees: Briege Corkery (Cork), Sinead Aherne (Dublin), Brid Stack (Cork); Intermediate Players’ Player of the Year nominees: Niamh O’Dea (Clare), Mary Hulgraine (Kildare), Aisling Holton (Kildare); Junior Players’ Player of the Year nominees: Mairéad Cooper (Antrim), Clare Timoney (Antrim), Mairéad Reynolds (Longford).