Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Graeme McDowell and Tony McCoy scoop top Irish gongs

Tony McCoy
Graeme McDowell

Tony McCoy and Graeme McDowell are going head to head for the Belfast Telegraph Sports Star of the Year award.

They are also the chief contenders for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year prize.

Before those gongs are decided, however, AP and G-Mac can celebrate the fact that they have been chosen to receive 2010 Texaco Sportstars of the Year Awards.

Along with six others, who include former Ulster rugby ace Tommy Bowe, they have been given the nod for the prestigious prizes marking their wonderful achievements this year.

Athlete Derval O’Rourke, boxing’s Katie Taylor, Dublin GAA ace Bernard Brogan, hurling’s Lar Corbett and swimmer Grainne Murphy make up the illustrious list in what is the 53rd year of the event.

Enda Riney, Country Chairman, Chevron (Ireland) Limited said: “The success being achieved by Irish sports stars in domestic and international competitions is testament to the transformation that has taken place in Irish sport in recent years. This fact is reflected in the distinguished list of stars chosen to receive Texaco Sportstars Awards this year.”

The awards will be handed out in Dublin on November 18.

It is the first time that McCoy, McDowell and Bowe have claimed the Texaco prizes.

This was the year of course when McCoy finally won the Grand National.

Don’t Push it was the name of his horse. Ironic really because McCoy has been pushing it to the limit throughout his astonishing career.

The victory meant that the man from Moneyglass, who has been champion jockey in Britain for the past 15 years, has won every race in the calendar that matters — many of them on numerous occasions.

When McCoy passed the finishing line in first place, the Aintree grandstands erupted. As the horse was being led back to a packed enclosure, the most implacable of all the jockeys, suddenly struck by the magnitude of his triumph, rose in the saddle, held both hands high and celebrated with a mighty roar to which the crowd reacted again and again.

AP joked that his young daughter might one day come to realise that he had actually done something to make her proud.

He makes her proud alright and the rest of us with his superhuman efforts.

Ditto the outstanding Portrush golfer McDowell.

What a year he has enjoyed.

Two weeks after winning the Wales Open at Celtic Manor in June, G-Mac went to Pebble Beach and claimed the US Open, seeing off the challenges of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els in the process.

Winning his first major would have been enough in 2010 for McDowell, but then came the Ryder Cup.

Paired with his great friend Rory McIlroy he gained vital points as Europe battled with the Americans at Celtic Manor.

The drama was intense in the opening days but it went up several notches on the final afternoon in the singles when the destiny of the Cup came down to the match between McDowell and Hunter Mahan.

McDowell needed to win for Europe to regain the trophy. The Ulsterman delivered.

And he has continued to shine since, winning the Andalucia Masters in Valderrama at the weekend.

There’s just no stopping him.

The same could be said of Ireland rugby star Tommy Bowe, preparing to take on world champions South Africa on Saturday.

He won his Texaco prize thanks to a string of scintillating displays for club and country.

Bowe was the key figure for Ospreys as they won the Magners League last season while for Ireland he consistently delivered. In total he scored an impressive 20 tries in 32 games.

He scooped the Players' Player of the Year award in Wales, the equivalent in Ireland for the second time and then the Six Nations Championship Player of the Tournament, a remarkable hat-trick.

There were notable achievements from the other Teaxco winners too, with 17-year-old swimmer Murphy making two finals at the European Senior Championships, athlete Derval O’Rourke finishing second in the European Championships in Barcelona in the 100 metres hurdles, boxer Taylor claiming a third world title, GAA hero Brogan almost single handedly taking Dublin to the All-Ireland final and Corbett’s stunning show for Tipperary ending Kilkenny’s dream of a fifth successive All-Ireland crown.

All deserving winners.

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