Donegal may have narrowly failed with a last gasp effort to salvage their All-Ireland Senior Football Championship bid but powering their way to the has catapulted Donegal very much into the limelight, as various bodies are now considering their awards for 2014.
Last weekend four of the Donegal panel picked up All-Stars while Ryan McHugh was named Young Player of the Year.
This weekend the Ulster GAA Writers’ annual gongs will be presented at the 27th yearly banquet in the Great Northern Hotel Bundoran on this Saturday, November 1, for which supporters can avail of group discounts on ticket purchases.
To be expected, the Donegal senior footballers’ successful trail to the championship decider is greatly reflected in the nominations for the Male Footballer of the Year with three Tir Connail stalwarts short-listed.
Neil McGee has been among the outstanding defenders this season while no-one will forget the performances of Ryan McHugh against the Dubs and also against Monaghan. Add in ‘Captain Fantastic’ Michael Murphy’s leadership of the team throughout the year and you have got a formidable trio.
There were also some great performances displayed by lady footballers from Ulster with Fermanagh midfielder Caroline Little, Armagh captain-cum-netball international Caroline O’Hanlon and Down co-captain and impact sub Kyla Trainor leading the list of nominations.
Antrim hurlers gave some outstanding displays against top teams, too, with Conor McCann and play-anywhere Paul Shiels causing headaches for all opposition. Derry’s Darragh McDermott also kept a safe goal-line for the Oak Leaf team and joins the Antrim men on the Hurler of the Year short list.
Derry were to the fore in camogie, as well, with Megan Kerr and Karen Kielt showing their class while Mourne stalwart Niamh Mallon was instrumental in bringing success to her county.
There is a change in the Handball Award. This time there won’t be a male and a female award and the honour can go to any branch of the game. In the light of that, the nominations include the Loughmacrory Club that did a million-plus development and organised a major tournament.
The Tyrone club is included along with coach Mary Lindsay and player Conor McElduff in the final nominations.
Handball is also featured among the nominees for the Cormac McAnallen Young Achiever Award with the nominees being Donegal minor Stephen McBrearty, Donegal senior Ryan McHugh and Tyrone handballer Johnny Woods.
Making a return to the awards is Club of the Year while new honour will be presented to Club of the Year, Team of the Year and a Cultural Award bringing the total to thirteen.
Nominations for the Services to the GAA, the Personality of the Year and the Cultural awards are not announced with the winner revealed at the annual banquet. The Chairman’s Award winner is also named on the night.
The list of nominations is:
Male Footballer – Neil McGee, Ryan McHugh, Michael Murphy (all Donegal).
Female Footballer – Caroline Little (Fermanagh), Caroline O’Hanlon (Armagh), Kyla Trainor (Down).
Hurler – Darragh McDermott (Derry), Conor McCann (Antrim), Paul Shiels (Antrim).
Handball – Mary Lindsay (Antrim), Loughmacrory (Tyrone), Conor McElduff (Tyrone).
Camogie – Karen Kielt (Derry), Megan Kerr (Derry), Niamh Mallon (Down).
Young Achiever (Cormac McAnallen Award) – Stephen McBrearty (Donegal), Ryan McHugh (Donegal), Johnny Woods (Tyrone).
Communications – Eunan Lindsay (Tyrone), Dermot McPeake (Derry), Declan Woods (Cavan).
Club – Ballinderry (Derry), Devenish (Fermanagh), Truagh (Monaghan).
Team – Donegal MF, Donegal SF, Creggan JH (Antrim).