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Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2015: Ulster heroes are fully deserving of your vote

By Frank Brownlow

Anto Finnegan was a deserving winner of last year's coveted Belfast Telegraph Local Heroes Award and competition is sure to be fierce again in what is traditionally one of the most hotly contested categories in the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards.

The winners of the 2015 Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards - supported by overall sponsor Linwoods - will be announced at a glittering bash at the Ramada Hotel, Belfast on January 25.

The Local Heroes Award - sponsored by Sport NI - recognises those often unsung people who make a vital contribution to the sporting life of the province.

Anto is a former Antrim GAA captain who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2012 and organised an historic fund-raising GAA match at Kingspan Stadium - the home of Ulster Rugby - between an Ulster Select and All-Ireland champions Dublin.

Dubbed the GameForAnto, the match was a resounding success and Anto's deterMND Trust, raising funds and awareness, continues to go from strength to strength.

Anto follows previous winner Billy McKee, recognised for his services to amateur boxing, who brought Carl Frampton through the ranks before the Belfast fighter turned professional and battled his way to the world super bantamweight title.

Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards 2015 

Arthur Scott, Interim Chief Executive of Local Heroes sponsor Sport NI, is delighted to be involved with the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards, and hailed the recent achievement of the world's fastest Paralympian Jason Smyth, who is a Sport NI-backed athlete.

"Sport NI is once again pleased to support the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards which exist to recognise the best in Sport," Mr Scott commented.

"Jason's latest gold medal success and fifth world title at the IPC Athletics World Championships provides a source of inspiration for us all and is something to be proud of.

"His commitment and dedication to achieve more and to close the gap between Paralympic and able bodied sport are driving him forward.

"Sport NI will, within the resources available, continue to do all it can to help Jason and our other athletes who are preparing for Rio and major competitions.

"I would encourage as many people as possible to nominate individuals, teams and organisations whose contribution to sport has been outstanding, and I'm sure we will see a wealth of local talent showcased at the Awards event."

The Local Heroes award recognises special achievement at grass roots level. Nominations may be for both clubs and/or individuals.

Past winners include hockey aces Ian Sloan and David Ames, fencer Fiona Haldane, Natalie Kane from motocross, Banbridge Academy boys hockey teams and wrestler Mohammed Ali.

To vote simply visit www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/sportsawards2015

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