Annual Banquet 2011 Report

After the highly successful season that Donegal has had it was fully expected that a number of awards would go the Tir Connail County at the  Quinn Insurance Ulster GAA Writers' banquet, in Bundoran and that's what happened.

Donegal collected three national titles during the season and added the Anglo Celt Ulster SFC trophy to their collection, as well. The county won the second division of the National Football League, the All-Ireland Vocational Schools' Football Championship, the Lory Meagher competition in hurling and the Ulster Senior Football Championship. Representatives of all those teams were in attendance, at the Great Northern Hotel.

Outstanding this year was, undoubtedly, Karl Lacey whose injury in the All-Ireland semi-final, in many people's opinion, may well have cost Donegal the match against Dublin. The Four Masters' player was named was named as the Male Footballer of the Year to add to his Allstar Award.

For a second time, Antrim sharpshooter Neil McManus collected the Hurler of the Year honour, despite the injury that kept him out of the Antrim SHC final, as he beat off opposition from his county team mate Neal McAuley and Armagh star man Ryan Gaffney.

The award for the Female Footballer was hotly contested this season with Monaghan and Cavan getting to All-Ireland finals but the gong sounded for Therese McNally who had a tremendous season. She narrowly defeated her county colleague Sharon Courtney and wily Cavan girl Aisling Doonan.

Having won the All-Ireland Junior Camogie Championship in 2010, Antrim stepped up to intermediate ranks this year and blazed their way to the final but was narrowly defeated, despite the artistry of Jane Adams who rifled over 13 of Antrim's 15 points in the decider. The Saffrons lost by just two. There was consolation for the Rossa star as she is named, for a fifth time since 2001, as the Camog of the Year.

For the first time, awards were presented separately for men and women in handball. Taking the female trophy was triple world champion Fiona Shannon, also her fifth time to be the winner, stretching back to 1997. The male award in handball went to Michael Finnegan but the Cavan man wasn't there to collect the trophy. He is on honeymoon just now and the Belleek Living trophy was received on his behalf by Breffni County chairman Tom Reilly.

Getting the Cormac McAnallen award as Young Achiever of the Year was Kilcar teenager Patrick McBrearty who, after helping Donegal to win the Vocational title, broke into the county senior team and played in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Former UGAAWA chairman John McAviney is remembered by the Services to Gaelic Games trophy and that went to long-serving Armagh and Whitecross official Joe Canning who has been serving his club and county for more than 40 years.

All the winners were warmly congratulated by the big attendance but the loudest applause of the night was reserved for the winner of the Chairman's Award. That went to 87-year-old Lily Spence who has helped steer camogie in Ulster and Antrim for three-quarters of a century. She is a former President of the All-Ireland Camogie Association and her interview with Fear A Tí Austin O'Callaghan was hilarious.

The list of award winners is:
Cormac McAnallen Award for Young Achiever - Patrick McBrearty (Donegal).
Communications - Damian Harvey (Tyrone).
Referee - Joe McQuillan (Antrim).
Female Handball - Fiona Shannon (Antrim).
Male Handball - Michael Finnegan (Cavan).
Camogie - Jane Adams (Antrim).
Ladies' Football - Therese McNally (Monaghan).
John McAviney Award for Services to Gaelic Games - Joe Canning (Armagh).
Hurler - Neil McManus (Antrim).
Footballer - Karl Lacey (Donegal).
Personality - Jim McGuinness (Donegal).
Chairman's Award - Lily Spence (Antrim).

Donegal chairman PJ McGowan added another trophy to the Tir Connail haul at the UGAAWA weekend banquet celebrations at the Great Northern Hotel in Bundoran.

PJ was one of the early birds who teed off on Saturday morning in the Banquet Bunker Blitz competition on the Rogey Links and he posted a winning 41 points, playing off a 12 handicap. The Ballybofey Golf Club member had seven points to spare at the top of the leaderboard over the rest of the field and won a voucher for two nights B&B and one evening dinner, compliments of the Great Northern Hotel.

Tied in second place on 34 points were Dungannon's Peter Kennedy (22), former Tyrone Senior Football Manager Danny Ball (12) and Ulster GAA Council PRO Oliver Galligan (13) from Cavan. Local member 'Dodie' Maguire (17) posted 33 points and on 31 was Brendan McCauley (13), another member of Bundoran Golf Club.

By Tony McGee


Banquet Launch HERE

Presentations   HERE