HAVING being at the last two Mayo Club Stars awards nights, this reporter always envied the clubs present who were celebrating success and dearly wished it was my own.
The Club Stars are the pinnacle of the Mayo GAA social calendar for the club player and you really have to experience the night yourself to see how much it means to the players, clubs, families and friends of the award nominees and winners.
The sense of pride around the room in Knockranny is a testament to the effort put in by all stakeholders in every club, and the Club Stars rewards them duly for those efforts.
Having watched the celebrations of both Louisburgh, who pipped us in 2016, and Lahardane, who beat us the following year, and to see how much they enjoyed themselves at the Club Stars, walking around with their chests out unbeknownst to themselves, it was an experience I yearned for our own club, Balla.
Having our own MC, Mike Finnerty, taking plenty of pop-shots at me on stage over those losses for the last two years wasn’t easy either, but sure it’s all in good sport! I think!
Hence the excitement for next Saturday night for all us Balla lads after winning the County Junior title last September for the first time since 1980!
Even more so, Balla GAA club is in with a great chance of having either Conor Walsh or Val Roughneen named ‘Junior Player of the Year’, with Achill’s Eddie Doran also receiving a nomination.
Not to mention Balla GAA club stalwart Toby McWalter, will be rewarded for his years of service to the GAA who he picks up the ‘Supporter of the Year’ award.
No doubt the man himself will be in flying form come Saturday, as too will the army of family and friends that are sure to be accompanying him on the night.
It will be an emotional night for Toby, and everyone else involved in the club, who only 10 years ago probably never imagined the sight of the club crest to be flashing across the big screen on such a prestigious and glamorous night.
The celebrations that will ensue should justify that!
And celebration is what the night is all about. Above all else, it’s a great opportunity to relax and trade war stories with lads who you will be trading belts with in a couple of months time when the football starts up again.
Lord knows the club player has earned it by the year’s end and, judging by the last two years, club players always enjoy it too – some more than others, but we won’t mention any names.
Don’t forget to get the suits pressed, it’s only a few days away!
PS: It’s starting at 7.30pm sharp — you’ve been warned!