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Address at the Presentation of the Eircell Vodafone GAA All-Star Awards


Speech by the Taoiseach Mr Bertie Ahern T.D., 

at the presentation of the Eircell Vodafone GAA All-Stars Awards, 

at the City West Hotel,

Friday, 30 November 2001 at 8.00pm 

Is cúis áthais dom bheith anseo anocht agus is cúis bróid domsa a bheith in bhur gcuideachta inniu chunna onóracha seo a fhógairt. Is ócáid speisialta í seo doCumann Luthcleas Gael agus do Eircell Vodafone. Is dea-scéal é seo dos na himreoirí ar fud na tíre agus is céim ar aghaidh iad ar son ár gcluichí náisiúnta. Molaim Cumann Luthcleas Gael agus Eircell Vodafone as teacht le chéilechun na Allstars a bhronnadh.  

The All-Stars Awards present an opportunity to honour excellence in our national games. The annual announcement of nominations and particularly the final selections are eagerly awaited by players and supporters of Gaelic games alike. As with certain events in politics, they provoke wild speculation, heated debate and nobody is ever 100% happy with the final outcome. 

Just as they recognise excellence, these awards also act as a great incentive for young people coming into Gaelic games.  

Every young player dreams of being an All-Star and all the winners here tonight are heroes to a new generation of players. I want to congratulate Eircell Vodafone for their support for these terrific awards.

I think everyone is agreed that the new structure in this years football championship has been good for the game and resulted in one of the most exciting campaigns in years. Players from traditionally less dominant counties now have the chance to be nominated for these awards and receive the exposure and recognition they so richly deserve.  

I want to pay tribute to Cumann Luthcleas Gael. Without the structures and facilities which the GAA has steadfastly nurtured and developed over the years, players of the calibre we are honouring here tonight would find it difficult, perhaps impossible to develop their own individual and team skills.  

The GAA is more than just a sporting organisation It represents part of our history, our culture and indeed our development as a nation. It is present in every parish in the land and its strength is its commitment to local communities. It continues to develop and expand the appeal of the games in every form. This year I attended one of the most exciting Ladies finals in years. 

We must also remember that all these fantastic players here tonight are amateurs. They combine a huge commitment to Gaelic games with work and personal life. That is not an easy task. Their managers, trainers, assistants and, lets not forget their families, give so much of their time and support so that we can enjoy two sporting games, which, in my opinion, are unrivalled for skill and excitement anywhere in the world.  

Tonight we also pay tribute to the former footballers and hurlers selected as the Irish Independent Eircell Vodafone Supreme All Stars. I know these terrific players were the inspiration for many of our current stars and I think it is right and fitting that we celebrate their contribution to our national games. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, choosing All-Stars is always difficult and I do not envy the task of the Judges. But they have made their selections and tonight we honour the Eircell Vodafone GAA All-Stars for 2001, congratulations to you all. 

Thank you.