Rena Buckley and Sinead Aherne joint winners of sportswoman award

The Irish Times/Sport Ireland Sportswoman Award for September: Rena Buckley (Camogie) and Sinead Aherne (Gaelic Football)

When they, hopefully, share a stage at the Sportswomen of the Year awards come December, it won’t be the first time Rena Buckley and Sinead Aherne have been in close proximity.

As footballing rivals for over a decade, Buckley usually at the back for Cork, Aherne up front for Dublin, they’ve spent a considerable amount of time invading each other’s space.

For this particular joint award, though, they’re in separate codes after Buckley captained Cork to All-Ireland camogie success in September, Aherne achieving the same feat in football with Dublin a fortnight later.

Both players appeared in their first All-Ireland finals as 17-year-olds, Aherne in 2003, Buckley in 2004, and have been towering figures in Gaelic games ever since.

Buckley, of course, now stands alone at the top of the roll of honour having won her 18th All-Ireland medal, in football and camogie, in September when a point in added time from substitute Julia White gave Cork victory over a Kilkenny side that had beaten them in the final 12 months before.

That made her the first woman to captain Cork to success in both camogie and football, and only the second to raise both trophies as captain – Mary Geaney was the first, leading the Kerry footballers to victory in 1976 and the Cork camogie team four years later.

If it wasn’t for Buckley and her footballing team-mates, Aherne’s medal collection would be a whole lot bulkier than it is, her sole taste of All-Ireland success at Croke Park until this year coming in their 2010 win over Tyrone.

Four times Dublin had played Cork in finals since 2009, four times they’d lost. This year, though, Mayo ended Cork’s run in the semi-finals, before losing to Dublin in the final, the ever prolific Aherne helping herself to nine points in a comprehensive victory.

Much like they’ve been when they’ve squared up in football, then, Buckley and Aherne proved inseparable when it came to our September award – they are, then, our joint winners.