TG4 All Stars Arrive in San Diego

FOR the third time since the inaugural tour to New York in 2004, the TG4/Ladies Gaelic Football Allstars are back in the US for a week-long trip, this time to San Diego in southern California – with San Francisco being the chosen destination six years ago. The highlight will be an exhibition game next Saturday at the University of San Diego, where the Vodafone GAA Allstar footballers played 13 years ago under the management of John O’Mahony and Joe Kernan.

15 March 2016; Dublin's Carla Rowe takes a selfie with team-mates, Niamh McEvoy, Noelle Healy, Sinead Finnegan, Sinead Aherne, Sinead Goldrick, Lyndsey Davey and Sorcha Furlong, as they get ready for the TG4 Ladies Football All Star team departure to San Diego. TG4 Ladies Gaelic Football Association All Star Tour to San Diego. Dublin Airport, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE *** NO REPRODUCTION FEE ***

Selection for the much-prized trip is based on the choice of Allstar players over the previous two years, with the travel group supplemented by five substitutes for each team and provision made for players who will be unable to line out.

Ladies Football CEO Helen O’Rourke agrees that the award scheme is a fitting recognition of the girls who attain the highest level of performance over the course of the season. “The playing pool is growing in every county, as are the skill and ability levels,” she comments. “To stand out in such a commpetitive sport and to be selected as an Allstar is a huge achievement and is justly rewarded with the Allstar tour.”

The travelling group features 24 players who won Allstars in 2014 and 2015, the latter group being noteworthy that Mayo star Cora Staunton was honoured for the 10th time, while Cork dual star Briege Corkery picked up her ninth award. Earlier in the year, Corkery and team-mate Rena Buckley (a five-time award winner) made history by each winning their 16th All-Ireland medal for ladies football (10) and camogie.

Six players – Corkery and her Cork team-mates Geraldine O’Flynn and Vera Foley, along with the Dublin pair Lyndsay Davey and Sinead Goldrick and Monaghan’s Cora Courtney – had been chosen both years. And, of the remaining members of the group, only Cork dual player Deirdre O’Reilly (2005, 2007, 2011 and 2013) and Kerry’s Sarah Houlihan (2012/2013), are previous award winners.

O’Reilly is already an All-Ireland winner this year – in camogie – having beem a member of the Milford team which won the All-Ireland senior club title recently.

And, earlier in the seaso, Monaghan girls Cora Courtney and goalkeeper Linda Martin were members of the Donnaghmoyne team which won the All-Ireland Ladies Football senior club championship.

Linda Martin won an Allstar last year at the fourth attempt and is the first player from Monaghann to be picked in goal.

The other goalkeeper on the tour is Ciamh Dollard from Laois, the first from the county to gain an Allstar in the position since Lulu Carroll in 1991 and Bernie Deegan in the following two years.

*Over the course of the six tours to date, players from 22 counties have been represented – including all the counties of Munster and Connacht – and when 2014 Allstar corner-forward Aileen Pyers lines out on Saturday she will become only the third player from Down to play in an exhibition game abroad.

Michaela Downey from the Clonduff club is the county’s only other Allstar award winner, at left half-forward in 2008. She toured in Singapore in 2006 and again in San Francisco four years later, when namesake Eliza Downey (no relation) from Aileen Pyers’ club Annaclone was amongst the group of replacements.

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