If there is one thing the GAA do well, it is presentations. Our sports team were in Croke Park on Saturday night last to pick up a McNamee Media award and it was nice to mingle with some of the elite of the media who cover GAA affairs throughout the length and breadth of this country.
The day did not start well with all three of us (Tom Comack, Alan Foley and myself) meeting up in Kingspan Breffni Park where Alan was covering the Division 3A Allianz National League final between Donegal and Fingal. Donegal produced their most disappointing display of the season, going down tamely to the Dubs. It must have been the first time that the Donegal hurlers had such a journalistic following!
The function in Dublin was timed for 7 p.m. and as is always the case, we arrived in the Davin Stand car park adjacent to Croke Park right on the button.
We had received a ‘phone call from Siobhan Brady in Croke Park last week to inform us that our Supplement for the Ulster final of 2011 had been adjudicated as the winner of the McNamee Provincial Media award for that year.
The McNamee award, named after the GAA President from Antrim, (although a native of Dromintee, Co. Armagh), Padraig McNamee, who was in charge of GAA affairs in the late 1930s and early 1940s (1938-1943), were inaugurated to reward coverage of GAA affairs at all levels.
On Saturday evening the Donegal Democrat were in good company with the likes of Tom O’Riordan being honoured with a Hall of Fame award, while Donal McAnallen picked up an award for his book, ‘The Cups That Cheered: A History of the Sigerson, Fitzgibbon and Higher Education Gaelic Game’.
Donal, brother of the late Cormac McAnallen, has a strong Donegal connection through the O’Neill family in Letterbarrow and he has been to the forefront in submitting to print the history of various aspects of the GAA.
Donal was one of the ten winners in 2012 in the Best GAA Publication category, a section won for the year 2011 by James Laffey’s very interesting book on Mayo football - The Road To 51: The Making of Mayo Football.
Having read Laffey’s book, it was a very worthy winner - one of those books that once you start, you cannot leave down
The night got underway with a sumptuous dinner after the wine reception, which could not be enjoyed to the full because of the dreaded journey home.
The Democrat award was the first presented on the night and the citation read:
“Chosen because of the quality and extent of its content; a dozen writers were involved with extensive, quality photographic content to compliment the various articles in an excellent 16 page broadsheet publication.
“The presentation of the package was first class, most attractively laid out to engage readers, and the inclusion of a young person’s section was an added plus.
“This kind of publication is to be considered as the type of publication that will be retained in families for years to come; an appropriate souvenir of a great event in the history of Donegal GAA.”
We were seated with members of the Omagh St. Enda’s club, who picked up the 2011 Club Project Award for an incredibly well supported fundraising drive for the Palliative Care Unit at Tyrone County Hospital.
The breadth of support for the ‘Three Points One Goal’ St. Enda’s Trail concept; cycling from Galway to Omagh in July 2011, indicates that the project resonated within key aspects of what the GAA is about - community and co-operation. The quality of all materials connected with the project left all others in the shade to make them worthy winners.
There were plenty of other Ulster success, apart from the Democrat, Omagh St. Enda’s and Donal McAnallen with the Down Co. Board and the Ulster Colleges committee winning the Best Programme in each year.
There was a Donegal connection to the Gradaim na Gaeilge 2011, which was won by the TG4 programme, Seó Spóirt, who listed among those involved Kevin Cassidy and Rory Kavanagh, who have contributed.
It was a good night for the Western People as they picked up the Provincial Award for 2012 for their All-Ireland final supplement and this along with James Laffey’s award was a unique double for the Ballina-based paper (Laffey is the News Editor of the ‘Western’).
Indeed, their GAA journalist Michael Gallagher was claiming a hat-trick for the ‘Western’ as he reminded me that I had spent five years with the ‘Western’ away back a long time ago (in the 1070s!!!)
Ironically, the one special publication that we have been involved with in recent times, our 64-page All-Ireland final supplement for 2012, was not submitted for the awards, because we did not receive notification of the deadline for entries.
However, it was nice to be honoured, especially with such competition from all over Ireland.
The full list of winners on Saturday night were:
2011 Provincial Media Award – Donegal Democrat, Ulster Final Preview
2011 Best Website – Louth GAA
2011 Club Project Award – Omagh St. Enda’s GAA
2011 Best Programme - BT MacRory Cup Final
2011 Best GAA Publication – The Road To 51: The Making of Mayo Football
2011 Best Photograph – Paul Mohan
2011 National Media Award – Christy O’Connor
2011 Best GAA Related Radio Programme – Limerick 95FM
Gradaim na Gaeilge 2011 - Seó Spóirt; Sónta do TG4
2011 Hall of Fame Award – Michael Dundon
2012 Provincial Media Award – The Western People, ‘D-Day for Mayo’
2012 Best Website – Killoe GAA
2012 Best Programme – Down Senior Football Championship
2012 Best Photograph – Stephen McCarthy
2012 Best GAA Publication Award – ‘The Cups that Cheered; A History of the Sigerson, Fitzgibbon and Higher Education Gaelic Games’ By Donal McAnallen
2012 Best GAA Related Radio Programme – Pat O‘Mahony ‘A Silver Lining’
2012 National Media Award – Daragh O Conchuir
Gradaim na Gaeilge 2012 - Spórt an tSathairn; Raidió na Gaeltachta
2012 Hall of Fame Award – Tom O’Riordan