McCleary star shining brightly

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Sinead McCleary will be the pride of Lurgan this weekend as she attends the ladies gaelic All Stars banquet in Dublin having been shortlisted for the first time in her excellent career.

After a distinguished decade in county colours a ticket to the sport’s Oscars ceremony at last is the least 26-year-old midwife McCleary deserves and her club Clann Eireann will be enthusiastically supporting her at the CityWest Hotel on Saturday night.

“On behalf of Clann Eireann I wish Sinead all the success she richly deserves for she’s a credit to her club, her county, her province and her family,” says club secretary Roisin Bell.

“Everyone at the club is immensely proud of her achievements and believe her nomination for an All Star award is long overdue. Her record speaks for itself – she has often been described as the most under-rated player in the country and I’d second that sentiment!

“We’re proud to accompany Sinead to the ceremony in the CityWest this weekend and hope she gets the All Star she deserves but, whatever the outcome, she will always be a hero in Clann Eireann.”

McCleary is the third All Star nominee from Clann Eireann, following in the footsteps of fellow club stalwarts Shauna O’Hagan in 2009 and Laura Brown two years ago.

As well as her central contribution to Clann Eireann’s decade of dominance at club level with six Armagh Senior Championships in the last eight years, McCleary has been a significant figure for the county team throughout that period.

She was a precocious 17-year-old wing back in the Armagh team that won the Junior All Ireland in 2005 before reaching the Senior final 12 months later and is now one of the most experienced players in the Orchard set-up.

A midfield dynamo in the Armagh side which won the All Ireland Intermediate title in 2012, the very versatile McCleary played full forward in the National League last year before featuring at centre half back in Ulster’s interpro title winning team and has worn the orange No 10 jersey for most of this season.

Ulster skipper for two seasons, she has led her province to the interpro title and last spring became the first ever Queen’s captain to lift the O’Connor Cup, the All Ireland for third level students.

Up until now an All Star nomination had eluded McCleary but she was well worth the honour this year in spite of taking time out before rejoining the Orchard ranks at the start of the season when bothered by niggling injuries.

An accomplished player whose skill levels are underpinned by a great work ethic and fantastic fitness, the exceptionally consistent Lurgan midwife delivers every time for club, county and province.