Saturday 24 February 2018

The 10 greatest women GAA players of all time

Here are some of the best GAA stars you may not have of heard of, the 10 greatest women GAA players of all time.

Our GAA heroes are loved not only for their great feats on the field but for their place in the community, for the fact they’re ‘one of us’. As the indigenous codes go from strength to strength both at home and abroad a section of the GAA community are also getting the recognition they so richly deserve. Here are the best GAA stars you may not have of heard of, the 10 greatest women GAA players of all time.

With the Liberty Insurance Senior All-Ireland Camogie finalists decided in Cork and Galway, the women’s code comes to its zenith. In admiration for the women of GAA, here are 10 of the greatest. What do you think?

Cora Staunton, Mayo, football

In some sports when a player is so good and has made such a lasting impact on the game their jersey is retired. If it were possible to do that in Gaelic Games that honour would surely be bestowed on Cora Staunton. Since she made her debut for Mayo in 1995 she has never stopped performing winning four All-Ireland titles, nine All-Star awards and three National Leagues. There is no player who can be compared to her. She is strong, accurate from both feet and still despite a twenty year career she is hungry for success. In a recent club game she scored 9-12 and in the year’s Connacht final she racked up a tally of 1-15. Her consistency and commitment to winning t sets her apart from the pack. In the 1999 All-Ireland final she started the game with a broken collar bone, stayed on the pitch for ninety seconds then came off. She will do whatever it takes to succeed; she’s a winner to the core.

Juliet Murphy, Cork, football

When it came to controlling a game Cork’s Juliet Murphy was the master. And luckily for her team she was ever present throughout her 17 year career, never sent off and rarely absent through injury. She captained Cork to consecutive All-Ireland titles in 2005, 2006 and 2007. So vital was she to the Cork football revolution that in 2013 she came out of retirement to help see her team over the line once more. Her eight All-Ireland titles and six All-Star awards are testament to the role she played for Cork, a natural leader and a great footballer as well.

Briege Corkery, Cork, camogie

When thinking about greats of the game it’s impossible not to be blown away by Briege Corkery and her athleticism and skill. Her pace on the ball and the force she accelerates with makes her almost unmarkable. As well as having nine All-Ireland football titles, she has a five All-Ireland camogie medals and 13 All-Star awards spread between the two codes. While the wing back’s ability is unbelievably impressive it’s her character that is almost her greatest strength. She is inspirational, courageous and fearless and when Cork have her in their team sheet they always have the edge.

Marina Barry, Kerry, football

The commitment shown by camogie players and Ladies footballers is a hot topic right now but few know what the players of the past sacrificed to compete at the top level. Kerry’s Marina Barry won ten All-Ireland titles with Kerry during the 1980s and 90 captaining the Kingdom to the title while still in school. For large part of her career she travelled from Dublin, where she was based, back home to represent her county. No challenge was too great for the sharp shooter who had strength, skill and grace all rolled into one. Although she is close to fifty Barry still lines out for her club Austin Stacks.

Brenda McAnespie, Monaghan, football

Winning three All-Star awards is a remarkable achievement for anyone. For Brenda McAnespie it was fitting. She was a great servant to Monaghan football lining out as mother at almost 40 years of age. She never dropped her standards or commitment even playing in an All-Ireland final when pregnant. She won two All-Ireland titles at senior level and one at junior and throughout her career she led the game within the county helping promote and grow it. And she even went on to share the pitch with her daughters.

Angela Downey, Kilkenny, camogie

Widely regarded as the greatest of them all Angela Downey stands alongside not just Ireland’s top camogie players but indeed Ireland’s top sports stars. With twelve All-Irelands under her belt she was largely responsible for Kilkenny’s dominance of the championship. During her inter-county career which started when she was just 13 and spanned a quarter of a century she collected a huge amount of silverware on top of her All-Irelands including thirteen Leinster medals and eight National League medals. She also won twenty-two county titles and six All-Ireland club medals.

Deirdre Hughes, Tipperary, camogie

In pressurised situations Deidre Hughes was a player who could always be relied on to stand up and be counted, she was the ultimate team player, the play maker. In 1999 when Tipperary made their break through at senior level Hughes was superb. After that heroic win they went on to make their mark on camogie and write themselves into the history books and she was a key cog in Tipperary’s wheel during this revolutionary time. They went on to win four All-Irelands in the next five years and Hughes was selected on the camogie team of the century.

Fiona, O'Driscoll, Cork, camogie, football

Cork’s Fiona O’Driscoll was a gifted athlete, a dual star and a super exponent of both Camogie and Ladies football winning six All-Ireland titles. She’s known for her movement, ferocity and for her instinct. She also excelled in college sport, she studied PE teaching at the University of Limerick and while there won three O’Connor Cups and two Ashbourne Cup medals. She went on to manage her native Cork Camogie team leading them to All-Ireland glory.

Therese Maher, Galway, camogie

In 2013 when Galway won the All-Ireland camogie title led by Therese Maher camogie fans around the country rejoiced. The Athenry club woman deserved it, no one could argue with that. For sixteen years she’d hurled outstandingly in the maroon jersey winning four All-Star awards along the way but never getting over the line on the big day despite contesting five senior All-Ireland finals. Two years ago her side righted and won beating Kilkenny 1-9 to 0-7. She made her dreams a reality and won another All-Star award. She was a woman on a mission and she made it happen. The centre back was Galway’s leader and fiercest competitor, her commitment and dedication inspired not just those around but those around the country.

Kate Kelly, Wexford, camogie

It was almost inevitable that Wexford’s Kate Kelly would be a camogie star. Her mother and aunt had travelled the road before her winning two All-Ireland titles in the sixties and her father and four brothers all donned the purple and gold at various stages in their careers as did her sister. But it is Kate who is synonymous with winning at the top level; she has five All-Star awards to her name and three All-Ireland titles. On the field either in mid-field or in the forwards she is a force to be reckoned with. Her ability and consistency are unquestionable; although no player is irreplaceable, for Wexford she comes close. 

Make a difference: pledge to bring your daughter, niece, sister or cousin to the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie final in Croke Park on 13 of September, Galway v Cork #supporthersport @LibertyIRL

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