Two GAA sportswomen share September award honours

Unrelenting spirit of Maher and Murphy wins out

There's less than a year between Therese Maher and Juliet Murphy, both players starting their intercounty careers in the mid 1990s, both giving the same level of commitment to the cause, but in terms of senior honours at least, only Murphy was rewarded.

Until last month, that is.

Maher had won her fair share of minor honours with Galway, but the senior camogie title had eluded her.

Five times she had been on the losing side in an All-Ireland final, until her county overcame Kilkenny at Croke Park last month.

“Today,” she said, “makes up for all of that,” the photo of her dropping to her knees, on the Croke Park pitch at full-time, the tears flowing, giving a fair indication of what it all meant. If it doesn’t win sporting photo of the year, there should be a stewards’ inquiry.

She was, then, finally rewarded for all that commitment and all those sacrifices.

Murphy, on the other hand, having already collected seven All-Ireland football titles with Cork, announced her retirement back in June.

Time to relax and do other things. But then Cork endured a struggle or two, not least a couple of Munster Championship defeats to Kerry, so the Donoughmore midfielder dusted down the boots again and returned.

"Even just seeing her back in training was a massive lift for everyone," said her team-mate Elaine Harte, Murphy's return to the Cork midfield not only steadying the ship, but moving it relentlessly towards yet another title.

And, last month, she played a significant role in yet another Cork triumph, this one over Monaghan in the final, Murphy, like her county, winning her eighth All-Ireland title in nine years.

And with that, at 33, she announced her retirement again. “I knew it was my last, definitely,” she said of the game.

Maher and Murphy, then, are chosen for our joint September award as both representatives of their All-Ireland winning teams, but also for their own contributions to their counties and their outstanding careers.

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan is a sports writer with The Irish Times