Armagh Harps will be well represented at next month’s ABC Sports Awards with the club’s senior ladies side, manager Paddy McShane and their Orchard county captain Kelly Mallon all shortlisted in their respective categories.
McShane is in the frame for Manager of the Year after steering the cathedral city club to their first Armagh Division One title for a quarter of a century and only their second Senior Championship final appearance this millennium.
He also presided over a first ever Armagh Minor Championship success for Harps, having worked with most of this emerging generation of talent through the age group categories from Under 12s upwards.
Harps seniors have made the cut in the Team of the Year category after a season during which they only lost twice and, like McShane, were nominated by Paula Enright who wears many hats in the club as well as the side’s goalkeeping gloves.
“As a manager, Paddy has won the top level of Armagh Championships for the Under 12, Under 14, Under 16 and Minor (Under 18) age grades with the same core group of players, which is a fantastic record,” says Paula.
“He has put so much time and dedication into working with these young girls and a good number of them are now starting to make a real impression for our senior team so we have high hopes of future success.
“We came up short in the county final last September but winning our first league title in so many years was a big boost to everybody and it is nice that the team has been shortlisted for the ABC Awards along with deserved recognition for Paddy, who has done trojan work and is really one of a kind.”
Multi-talented Madden woman Mallon will be up against one of the Irish hockey heroes, Bethany Barr, and athletics star Emma Mitchell for the much-coveted Sportswoman of the Year title after another impressive year.
Although her remarkable run of nine consecutive Ulster senior road bowls ended and, consequently, she couldn’t add to her record eight All Ireland triumphs, Mallon at least ended the year by winning the prestigious international Queen of the Road crown.
In official captain Caoimhe Morgan’s absence through injury, Mallon skippered the Armagh ladies gaelic county team to seven wins in nine matches as the Orchard outfit finished top of the Division Two table and reached their sixth ever Ulster Senior Championship showpiece.
She hit the net as Armagh famously upset ladies football’s most successful county Cork in a championship match for the first time and scored a cracking goal as the orangewomen were edged out by Mayo in the All Ireland quarter-final.
At club level, Mallon captained Madden camogs to the Armagh Senior Championship final and top-scored for Harps in the ladies football showpiece having hit a hat-trick of goals the night they clinched that long-awaited league title with a win at Grange.
The 30-year-old, who works in sports development for ABC Council, has now been appointed Armagh captain in her own right following Morgan’s retirement and was her team’s top-scorer in both of the first two National League games of 2020.