CORK club Newtownshandrum got a welcome boost ahead of next month's AIB All-Ireland semi-finals with the news that Ben O'Connor received a record number of nominations while winning the Munster provincial hurling player award.
Players from seven of the clubs still in contention for All-Ireland honours will be recognised in today's awards, which are now in their 14th season.
Kilkenny senior TJ Reid of Ballyhale Shamrocks, who will provide Newtown's tough semi-final opposition, took the hurling award for Leinster for the second year running.
Paddy Richmond of Dunloy Cuchullains was Ulster's hurling winner, but there was no award in Connacht hurling as their semi-final opponents and reigning champions, Portumna, had no opposition in their province.
Darren Hickey of Clare side Kilmurry-Ibrickane took the Munster football award, while Paul Cahillane took the Leinster football award for his heroics with Portlaoise
Conor McGourty of St Galls took the honours for Ulster football while Galway senior, Kieran Comer, is the Connacht football winner after Corofin's two in-a-row provincial title.
Stalwart McCarthy calls time on Cork career
Timmy McCarthy's retirement from inter-county hurling has been confirmed by Cork manager, Denis Walsh.
Walsh has put a new panel together without the three time All-Ireland medal winner who started his inter-county career in 1998.
It now means that Cork will go into this year's championship with just three of the players who started that '99 All-Ireland final against Kilkenny -- Donal Og Cusack, Sean Og O hAilpin and Ben O'Connor.
Cork's '97/'98 All-Ireland winning U-21 teams, of which McCarthy and the aforementioned trio were members, are generally credited as being the catalyst for Cork's '99 success and others successes in the 2000s.
Storey focused on Model of success
WEXFORD legend Martin Storey heads into his new role of county minor hurling team boss fiercely determined to turn things around for the Yellow Bellies at under-age level.
Unlike next-door neighbour and arch-rivals Kilkenny, the Model County has enjoyed minimal success in the minor grade in recent years.
"We haven't won a Leinster minor hurling title since 1985 (Kilkenny have won 18 in the interim)," said Storey. "As well, we have to go all the way back to 1968 for our last All-Ireland. So a bit of success at minor level is certainly overdue for Wexford."
But despite the absence of silverware for 25 years, Storey, who played for Wexford seniors from 1986 to 2001, winning an All-Ireland senior medal and three All Stars, is reasonably hopeful that his charges will make meaningful progress in this year's campaign.