A 12-year- old hurling and football mad player has won a set of jersey and a dozen sliotars for her club when she entered an on-line My Club Abú Competition describing what the Setanta camogie club meant to her and why she loved playing camogie. Out of 89 entries across the province of Leinster, which was not age specific (entries ranged from ages 6 to 56), Paige Challoner from Beechwood Park in Carlow Town scooped the top prize for the Setanta Club.
Daughter of Debbie and Paul Challoner, Paige entered the competition about six weeks before Christmas and then completely forgot about it. To their surprise, the family got word just before Christmas that Paige had taken the top prize.
“I tell you, I was delighted for her. She is not just any ordinary little woman,” said a proud Debbie.
“This one is hurling mad and football mad. She has big Kilkenny connections with my family and Paul’s family. My uncle is Mick ‘Cloney’ Brennan from Castlecomer who won All-Ireland’s with Kilkenny. Paul’s parents are from Thomastown as well. She would talk about a match with any man or woman.”
Paige also plays camogie with Bennekerry NS, is a member of Éire Óg and plays intercounty underage football with Carlow. She has drawn inspiration from successful Carlow and Myshall camogie teams who have won All-Ireland camogie titles in Croke Park. She, herself, would love to play in Croke Park with Setanta. She sleeps, eats and drinks camogie and football.
“You wouldn’t believe it but last year Santa brought her a one to one with TJ Reid. That was all she wanted. That was worth a million euros to her,” said Debbie.
“The Castlecomer and Thomastown background also means a lot to her.”
Paige is a regular scorer in the half-forward line with Setanta. She is delighted to win a set of jerseys for her club.
“I just love playing. It is fun and there are a lot of skills in it. I practice every day. I would like to thank all the coaches and my parents for bringing me to training and matches,” the award winner said.
Mary Bates, Assistant Secretary of the Setanta Club, whom Paige mentions in her entry, was chuffed that one of their members should win such an award.
“We are honoured and thrilled for Paige. Setanta is honoured to feel that Paige, one of our members should feel the way she does about the club and sees the club in that light,” Mary said.
Sabrina Larkin, Leinster Participation and Growth Co-Ordinator, explained what the thought process was behind the competition and why the young Setanta player took the top award
“I asked for entries to describe what their club means to them and it was heart-warming to read the replies – and renewed my energy in my own job.
“There was almost 90 entries in total from around the province and I selected Paige’s as the top of the pile because of its sincerity, the fact her club is her family and they are striving to have a place to call their own.
“I found most entries referred to their club as somewhere that gave them a family, somewhere safe, support, fun and hope,” noted Larkin.
Intosport put up the prizes with regards to the jerseys and Cúl Sliotars provided the sliotars.
“My camogie club is Setanta Carlow. I have played with my club since I was 3. They had only just formed as a club when I joined. From the very start our club has always been a great club. We have many volunteers that kindly give their time and knowledge freely. Many parents are coaching teams and sometimes that can mean that they miss some of their own girls matches if we are all playing the same day. We call ourselves The Setanta Family. We are like a big family. Everyone knows everyone and are always made feel very welcome. No body gets left behind. Everyone gets a go. We train twice a week in the summer. Our coaches always have something new or different to try. They work very hard for us. There is one lady in our club and she’s just simply amazing. Her name is Mary Bates. She’s been with our club since day one. Nothing is ever two much for Mary. She’s always running around getting things done. We are very luck in Setanta to have her part of our Setanta family. I have made lots of great friends playing camogie and I hope I will continue being friends with these girls in secondary school. Our club has no pitch. We use the facility’s in presentation college. We are lucky we have the use of these facilities. My club would be very proud if they won this great prize. It would be a great Christmas present. Someday hopefully we will have our very own pitch. My favourite part of summer is going down and playing with all the girls and listening to our parents and coaches cheering us on. I hope our club stays going indefinitely. With the help of parents and volunteers we can keep our club going. I do hope my club could win this prize. We have great numbers of players in our club and there has been improvement in all the girls skills. We are a small club but rising slowly but surely. Thanks for your time and reading about our club. Setanta Abu. Paige Challoner age 12 “