Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2015 live: Rory McIlroy, Carl Frampton, Kelly Gallagher and Michael Dunlop compete in 20th year

Live tweets from the awards bash, where we'll announce the Greatest Northern Ireland Sports Star ever - voted for by readers

By Steven Beacom

The Belfast Telegraph will celebrate a stunning 12 months of sport for Northern Ireland when our annual Sports Awards take place tonight.

And this year the ceremony promises to be more special than ever as we mark the 20th anniversary of the most prestigious Sports Awards in the country.

Two decades ago the first winner of our top award, the Sports Star of the Year prize, was Belfast boxer Wayne McCullough. One year later we introduced the Hall of Fame award...the first Northern Ireland sporting great to enter the Hall of Fame was rugby icon Dr Jack Kyle, who sadly passed away late last year.

Many illustrious names have picked up trophies at the Awards over the last 20 years and more will join that list this evening at the Ramada Plaza hotel when the winners of the 2014 Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards, sponsored by Linwoods, are announced.

There is fierce competition for all the awards, not least the Sport Star of the Year, given the incredible success our sporting heroes, such as motorcyclist Michael Dunlop, boxer Carl Frampton, skier Kelly Gallagher and golfer Rory McIlroy, have enjoyed.

Dunlop has shone on the roads, winning many times and breaking records at the Isle of Man TT, Frampton brought Belfast to a standstill to become World Champion on a memorable September night, Gallagher made history by becoming the first ever Team GB and NI competitor to claim Winter Paralympic gold and, of course, McIlroy completed two outstanding major triumphs.

That fab four all received numerous nominations from the public, as did scores and scores of other sportsmen and sportswomen for the various categories, leaving the judges a virtually impossible task to compile shortlists and eventual winners.

We won't just be presenting trophies to household names... we will also recognise the immense contribution of those behind the scenes and acknowledge the achievements of Young Players and Young Teams.

Categories such as the Young Player of the Year and the George Best Breakthrough Awards provide a fascinating insight into our future stars.

For instance 10 years ago the Young Player award went to a teenage Rory McIlroy and the Breakthrough prize was claimed by young footballer Steven Davis, who is now the Northern Ireland captain.

As well as all the usual awards being handed out, we will also be announcing the Greatest Northern Ireland Sports Star ever, as voted for by Belfast Telegraph readers, who had a choice from 20 sporting heroes selected by an expert panel.

In tomorrow's Belfast Telegraph we will have reports and pictures from the gala event and in Wednesday's newspaper we will give away a brilliant 12 page supplement recognising the winners and those nominated. This week there will also be special pictures to collect celebrating the top three sporting personalities, as voted by you, in the Greatest Ever poll.

The hosts for the ceremony are Jackie Fullerton and Claire McCollum. Guests are advised to arrive at tonight's showpiece occasion for 7pm.

Further reading

Joey Dunlop voted as Northern Ireland's Greatest Sports Star 

It's a knock-out night for Northern Ireland's boxers at Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 

David Healy nets a place in Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards hall of fame 

Rory McIlroy and Carl Frampton double tops at Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2014 

Carl Frampton v Chris Avalos: Belfast's atmosphere second to none. I need to win and keep these big nights happening, says the Jackal 

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