The names of the winners of the various awards at tonight’s Ulster GAA Writers’ Association presentation banquet in the Great Northern Hotel, Bundoran, remain under wraps for now with one notable exception.
Donaghmoyne player Catriona McConnell will be presented with the writers’ merit award for November following her stirring performances in taking the team through to the All-Ireland ladies football final.
And, of course, the decider against Connacht champions Carnacon saw a fired-up Donaghmoyne side went on to lift the national title.
But it’s essentially for her endeavours in November — the final was on Sunday last, December 2 — that Catriona will be honoured tonight, meaning that within the matter of a few days she will have earned an All-Ireland medal and now her Writers’ Association honour.
“Being informed that I was the merit award winner for November before the All-Ireland final was a great personal boost,” said Catriona.
“I’m delighted with the award and now that it comes on the heels of our All-Ireland success, this makes it particularly satisfying.
“It’s certainly a very special time for me.”
She is well accustomed to taking delivery of awards, though.
Donaghmoyne have won the last 10 Monaghan ladies football titles and Catriona has played in nine of those victories.
She also has a shoal of Monaghan senior league medals.
“The first Monaghan championship final I played in was on my 16th birthday and that one will always be very memorable,” she recalls.
“You never get fed up with winning awards and naturally winning an All-Ireland medal and the Ulster GAA Writers’ Award makes it a great double for me.”
Topping her trophy list during November was a national Allstar award followed by the Croke Park Hotel ‘Player of the Month’ honour.
When Donaghmoyne defeated Wexford champions Shelmaliers in the All-Ireland semi-final, Catriona rifled over 12 points in the Monaghan team’s 1-21 to 0-7 victory.
That was more than enough to catapult the final year Early Child Level Studies student at Dundalk IT into the shop window for any award.
It surpassed the deeds of her closest competitors for the writers’ honour.
Those included Darragh O’Hanlon — who starred with Kilcoo in the defeat of St Gall’s — and Maggie Farrelly, who had the rare distinction of refereeing the Cavan men’s senior football league final.
When Catriona steps forward to receive her award tonight, she will be bringing down the curtain on what has been a great year for herself, Donaghmoyne and Monaghan.