“I WAS born in a country where people admire their great sporting heroes and how they aspire.” Lyrics from the ‘Fields of Glory’ by ‘The High Kings’ that was given a rousing rendition by accomplished Ferbane/Belmont footballer and singer Joe Maher during last Friday’s Bridge House Hotel / Offaly GAA awards gala presentation ceremony.
Three hundred and fifty guests gathered in the beautifully decorated Charleville Suite, including Offaly County Manager Pat Gallagher, County Council Cathaoirleach Danny Owens, Deputy Barry Cowen TD, Superintendent John Moloney and recently appointed Offaly senior hurling manager Sergeant Ollie Baker, as the cream of GAA talent in the county was honoured.
Maher, after his contribution to Ferbane/Belmont’s minor football triumph and Gallen CS’s All-Ireland VS success, was chosen as the winner of the minor footballer of the year accolade and he was one of seventeen award recipients.
The 2011 Hall of Fame inductees were ‘The Iron Man from Rhode’ Paddy McCormack and ‘The Little Man with the Midas Touch’ Pat Joe Whelahan, with the 2005 winners Eugene Mulligan and Damien Martin, coincidentally, the country’s first ever All Star winners in their respective codes back in 1971 also in attendance as was 2009 Hurling Hall of Fame inductee, Tullamore’s Andy Gallagher. Rhode star Mulligan was an automatic choice on the ’71 All Star football selection, while legendary St Rynagh’s custodian Damien Martin was unveiled as the number one on the hurling All Star side of 41 years ago.
SEE THIS WEEK’S OFFALY EXPRESS (JANUARY 18) FOR SEVEN PAGES OF COVERAGE FROM THE PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARDS INCLUDING EXTENSIVE PHOTOGRAPHIC COVERAGE.