Hall of Fame winners – Munster GAA Awards

Waterford’s Austin Flynn and Clare’s Seamus Clancy have secured the Hall of Fame Hurling and Football accolades respectively in the 2017 Munster GAA Awards. Killian Spillane of Kerry wins the Munster Under 21 Footballer of the Year, JP O’Connor of Limerick is the Munster Handballer of the Year while Tipperary’s John Costigan is honoured with the Munster Distinguished Service Award. The awards will be presented on Saturday night at a gala dinner in the Fota Island Resort Hotel in Cork where all the award winners for 2017 will be honoured.

Austin Flynn, a native of Abbeyside, hurled with Waterford from 1955 to 1967 and was their stalwart and ultra-dependable full back in their golden era from 1957 to 1963. In that period they won three Munster titles, a National League crown and of course the ultimate – a McCarthy Cup, defeating Kilkenny in the 1959 replay. He was also selected at full-back on the Munster team which won the Railway Cup in 1960. Although his club, Abbeyside, contested four county finals, he would be denied a coveted county medal. Austin is a most witty storyteller and never refuses an interview although he has stated that he’d be more than willing to pass on the mantle to worthy successors!

A native of Corofin, Seamus Clancy comes from a family steeped in the true tradition of Clare football. He represented Clare at Minor and Under 21 level before emigrating to Australia for a few years. On his return he was immediately selected for the Clare Senior Footballers and played a starring role in Clare’s historic Munster Championship victory over Kerry in 1992. It was a family occasion for the Clancy’s as his brother Colm scored the winning goal and his father Donal was a selector. His towering display in the Munster final earned him an All Star in 1992 at right corner back and to this day he’s Clare’s only football All-Star.

Having played some handball at a young age, JP O’Connor returned to the game in 2004 after an absence of nearly 15 years and led his club Hospital to the All-Ireland Junior B Club Title. Subsequent All-Ireland Club Titles followed at Junior and Intermediate Level, and culminated in captaining the club to reach the All-Ireland Senior Club Final in 2017. Individual Honours followed along the way also, winning All-Ireland titles in Junior B Singles and Junior Doubles as well as several Munster Titles.

2017 was an exceptional year captaining his club to the Munster Senior Club Title. He also won the Munster Intermediate Singles title losing out in the final in Croke Park in October. He also won a record sixth Paul Russell Memorial Cup in 2017. In 2018 he hopes to participate in the World Handball Championships in Minneapolis USA.

When Kerry travelled to Páirc Uí Rinn for the Munster Under 21 Football final on the last Wednesday of March, one of the overriding thoughts among the players must have been the fact that not since 2008 had the Kingdom managed to secure a Munster title in the grade while opponents Cork were seeking a sixth title in seven years. After a power packed display of attacking football however, Kerry annexed their 26th title to draw level in the Roll of Honour with their neighbours. A Man of the Match display by Killian Spillane was instrumental in that victory. The Templenoe clubman had an impressive 1-9 to his credit following earlier victories over Clare and Waterford and for good measure he added 5 points in the final.

John Costigan has had a distinguished GAA career both as a player and administrator, commencing with winning Rice Cup medals with Templemore CBS before going on to win County Junior Football and Hurling medals with his native Clonakenny. John played hurling at all grades with Tipperary, winning Munster Senior and Under 21, National League, Oireachtas, Railway Cup and Intermediate All-Ireland medals.

On joining the teaching staff of Templemore CBS, John threw himself into the organisation of Gaelic Games at the school and was associated with an astonishing 53 winning teams including the Harty and Croke Cups in 1978. On the formation of the JK Brackens Club in 1992 John became its first Chairman, later becoming Chairman of Tipperary County Board in 2006 and subsequently serving on the Munster Council, Central Council and the GAA’s Central Management Committee. He is currently a member of the national Competitions Control Committee, the Fixtures Monitoring Committee and Semple Stadium Management Committee.