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Sean Cavanagh ends a testing 2013 on a high with Footballer of the Year award

John Campbell

Sean Cavanagh may have found himself making the headlines for all the wrong reasons when he committed that now infamous foul on Conor McManus during the Tyrone v Monaghan All-Ireland quarter-final, but 2013 is ending on an upbeat note for the Moy clubman.

Having shared in Ireland's International Rules series win over Australia, Cavanagh collected the coveted Footballer of the Year award at the Ulster GAA Writers' Association banquet in the Great Northern Hotel, Bundoran last night.

It was a fitting reward for his superb consistency in Tyrone's colours this year and provided further testament to his status as one of the truly great players of the modern era.

And another leading Ulster footballer was also honoured with Monaghan ace Darren Hughes carrying off the Personality of the Year award.

Hughes led Ulster to the inter-provincial championship title, played a key role in Monaghan's promotion surge into Division Two, orchestrated their first Ulster title in 25 years and won the GAA writers' monthly merit award for July.

His charismatic leadership, wholehearted endeavour and exemplary sportsmanship combine to make 25-year-old Hughes one of the sport's high profile ambassadors.

If Ulster football was shown in a good light at the banquet, then other codes under the GAA banner were also strongly recognised.

Down's Paul Braniff collected the Hurler of the Year prize despite having missed part of the season through injury, Catriona McConnell (Monaghan) was honoured as Female Footballer of the Year and Derry's influential Grainne McGoldrick took the camogie award.

Paul Brady (Cavan) and Aisling Reilly (Antrim) took the male and female handball trophies once again thus extending their dominance within the sport.

Jackson McGreevy, who played in the Antrim side that contested the All-Ireland U21 hurling final and also featured for St Gall's in the Antrim and Ulster club football championships, was a deserved winner of the Young Achiever award and is certainly one to keep a close eye on for the future.

With greater than ever emphasis now being placed on PR and marketing within the GAA as a whole, the Communications Award created considerable interest and went the way of Cavan's diligent PRO Declan Woods.

And Tom Daly's inspired leadership while he was Ulster Council chairman and his key role in masterminding the redevelopment of Casement Park as well as his lengthy devotion to his native Donegal were just three elements that helped earn him the Services to the GAA award.

Writers Association chairman John Martin hailed the progress which the GAA has made this year and expressed the view that "all facets" are flourishing.

"It's tremendous to note the number of All-Ireland titles at various levels which have come to the province this year," said Martin.

"Hopefully this trend will continue into the future."

Belfast Telegraph


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