Derry All Star defender Chrissy McKaigue, Kilkenny marksman TJ Reid, together with All-Ireland winners Emma Duggan (Meath) and Grace Walsh (Kilkenny) have been named Football, Hurling, Ladies’ Football and Camogie Personalities of the Year at tonight’s Gaelic Writers’ Association (GWA) Awards.
The awards, in association with EirGrid, also saw four new inductees into the GWA Hall of Fame: Mary Jo Curran (Kerry), Linda Mellerick (Cork), Willie Bryan (Offaly) and Cyril Farrell (Galway).
RTE’s long-time Gaelic Games correspondent and commentator Brian Carthy was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award while Sligo’s Padraig McKeon was named PRO of the Year at a gala dinner in Dublin’s Iveagh Garden Hotel.
The GWA awards recognise the extraordinary contribution of players to Gaelic games in what was another enthralling year, as well as honouring the achievements of former stars in all four codes.
Beginning with an emphatic win over the 2021 All-Ireland champions Tyrone, underdogs Derry emerged as one of the surprise teams of last summer, securing their first Ulster title since 1998. They held their nerve in a dramatic provincial final against Donegal which went to extra time.
Chrissy McKaigue, tonight named Gaelic Writer’s Football Personality of the Year, was a pivotal figure in that campaign. The Slaughtneil man led by example, taking on the role of man-marking the opposition’s key forward and winning an All Star for his efforts.
In hurling, ace marksman TJ Reid is named as GWA’s Personality of the Year for 2022. Even though Ballyhale Shamrocks were beaten at the death in last year’s All-Ireland club final and Kilkenny lost to Limerick in the All-Ireland final, Reid’s standards never dropped. He continued to torment opposition defences, as well as maintaining his prowess as an ace free-taker.
In the autumn he returned to club duty, helping Ballyhale retain their county and provincial titles before the Kilkenny club won a record ninth All-Ireland club title last month.
In ladies football, Dunboyne native Emma Duggan is named Personality for the Year after another memorable season for the Royalettes. Duggan played key roles in Meath’s quarter-final and semi-final wins over Galway and Donegal respectively before starring in the final against Kerry. She later helped her club St Peter’s, Dunboyne to the Meath senior title.
Grace Walsh is the GWA’s choice as Camogie Personality of the Year after a season in which Kilkenny secured the O’Duffy Cup for the second time in three years. From the famed Tullaroan family, she was a key figure in their two pivotal games which saw Kilkenny dethrone defending champions Galway in the semi-final before beating Cork by a point in the decider.
Also recognised on the night for their unwavering commitment and dedication to the GAA were Kerry’s Mary Jo Curran and Linda Mellerick of Cork as they became the latest inductees into the Gaelic Writers’ Association Hall of Fame.
Mary Jo Curran was the first super star of women’s GAA at a time when ladies football was still in its infancy. She was named on the first ever women’s GAA All Star team in 1980 and won a record-equalling 11 All Star awards, including eight-in-a-row between 1983 and 1990, in an era when Kerry were the dominant force, winning nine titles on the spin between 1982 and 1990.
The winner of six All-Ireland medals with Cork, Linda Mellerick was one of the most influential players in the history of camogie. Selected on the camogie Team of the Century in 2004, she also starred for her club Glen Rovers, winning 10 county titles and three All-Ireland club championships.
Her inter-county career spanned 21 years. She captained Cork to their All-Ireland successes in 1993 and 1997 and also won 10 National League titles.
Offaly’s Willie Bryan and Cyril Farrell of Galway, inductees into the Gaelic Writers’ Association Hall of Fame in football and hurling respectively, were also honoured for their contributions to our national games.
Bryan, a two-time All-Ireland senior medalist, captained Offaly to their first All-Ireland senior success in 1971. They retained the title the following year beating Kerry in a replay thanks in part to Bryan producing a midfield performance for the ages, with the Walsh Island man subsequently named Texaco Footballer of the Year. In receiving this award he emulates his cousin Matt Connor, a GWA Hall of Fame inductee in 2011.
Cyril Farrell first came to prominence in hurling management when steering Galway minors to the 1973 All-Ireland final when he was just 23 years of age himself. He managed Galway to the All-Ireland under-21 title five years later and in 1980 oversaw their first senior All-Ireland in 57 years.
He returned to manage the Tribesmen to back-to-back All-Ireland success in 1987-88 in an era when Galway contested five All-Ireland finals in six seasons. As well as that, he coached the Galway minor team to their first ever All-Ireland win in 1983 and the under-21s to All-Ireland success in 1993 and ‘96. He also became a respected TV analyst and newspaper columnist.
Sligo’s Padraig McKeon is the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Year. Padraig has raised the bar for PROs around the country since taking on the role with Sligo and has left no stone unturned in promoting his county’s affairs. He has issued highly detailed press packs, most notably ahead of Sligo’s Tailteann Cup semi-final last year, while clearing the way for media to access team management and players alike.
Also recognised on the night was Roscommon native Brian Carthy, who for many years brought RTE Radio listeners up to date on the GAA news of the day as well as commentating on games across the country. He also compiled invaluable records of the All-Ireland championships in football and hurling year after year.
The full list of winners from the Gaelic Writers’ Association Awards for 2022, this year supported by EirGrid, is as follows:
Football Personality of the Year – Chrissy McKaigue (Derry)
Ladies Football Personality of the Year – Emma Duggan (Meath)
Hurling Personality of the Year – TJ Reid (Kilkenny)
Camogie Personality of the Year – Grace Walsh (Kilkenny)
Football Hall of Fame – Willie Bryan (Offaly)
Ladies Football Hall of Fame – Mary Jo Curran (Kerry)
Hurling Hall of Fame – Cyril Farrell (Galway)
Camogie Hall of Fame – Linda Mellerick (Cork)
PRO of the Year – Padraig McKeon (Sligo)
Lifetime Achievement Award – Brian Carthy (RTE)