It was a knockout night for boxing at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards.
In the amateur and professional ranks here, the sport is enjoying one its most successful eras ever and that was underlined by the array of gongs heading its way at last night’s glitzy event — sponsored by Linwoods and supported by Sport NI.
Commonwealth Games gold medal winner Paddy Barnes was a popular winner of the Player of the Year award having last year picked up gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi and the European Championships in Moscow.
Of course, Barnes and the rest of Northern Ireland’s boxers were an integral part of the entire Commonwealth Games team and their collective performances in Delhi, which reaped 10 medals, saw them pick up the Team of the Year Award last night.
And the men behind the magic were given their place in the spotlight, too, as Northern Ireland’s Commonwealth Games boxing coaches Stephen Friel and Michael Hawkins shared the Manager of the Year award.
Young Team of the Year went to Tyrone Minors GAA side, who beat Cork to win the All-Ireland Minor title at Croke Park.
Still with teams and an entire school of them picked up the Local Heroes Award as Banbridge Academy’s boys’ hockey teams were rewarded for their fantastic achievement in winning a ‘clean sweep’ of trophies throughout all age groups.
Ciara Mageean’s potential was further acknowledged as the Portaferry athlete won the Young Player of the Year prize.
The George Best Breakthrough Award has seen some winning starlets go on to bigger and better things and Northern Ireland footballer Craig Cathcart was the latest recipient, thanks to his displays in the Premier League in an entertaining Blackpool team this year.
The NI Sports Forum Paddy Patterson award went to Bobby Platt for a lifetime of service to rowing in Northern Ireland, while Ulster rugby hero Bryn Cunningham was given a Special award.
The Sportsperson with a Disability award, sponsored by Disability Needs went to impressive sprinter Sally Brown, a member of Team GB.