Brendan Rodgers and Rory Best had plenty to celebrate over the weekend. Now they have even more reasons to be cheerful after picking up prestigious prizes at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards.
Fresh from inspiring his Swansea side to a stunning 3-2 win at home to Arsenal on Sunday, Rodgers was named our Manager of the Year.
The 38-year-old from Carnlough has enjoyed the most astonishing 12 months, first leading his team into the Premier League, after emerging victorious in a thrilling Championship play-off final with his old club Reading, and then defying everyone in the top flight by being a fiercely competitive outfit who currently sit proudly in 10th place in the table.
And all the while, Swansea have achieved this by playing a brilliant brand of attacking, attractive and enterprising football, which has won Rodgers admirers throughout the game.
Ulster rugby hero Best is another who is respected in his field.
On Friday he played a key role in helping Brian McLaughlin's men hammer Leicester Tigers 41-7 at Ravenhill and last night he claimed the Player of the Year award at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards, sponsored by Linwoods and supported by Sport Northern Ireland.
Best excelled in 2011 for Ulster and Ireland, with his World Cup performances for the latter in New Zealand seeing many shrewd judges of the oval ball game describing him as the best hooker on the planet.
Certainly Ulster will now be looking for a big performance from Rory when they travel to face Clermont in their final Heineken Cup group game on Saturday, with the men from Ravenhill aiming to clinch a quarter-final spot in the competition for the second year running.
Linfield know all about winning under pressure, never more so than in 2011 when they were expected to deliver in their 125th year.
David Jeffrey's side did just that clinching the Irish League and Irish Cup double for the fifth time in just six seasons. That remarkable achievement earned them the Team of the Year gong.
GAA Ulster Council Secretary Danny Murphy received the WJ ‘Paddy’ Patterson Award for Services to Sport which is annually presented by the Northern Ireland Sports Forum.
Danny who represented his native Burren in football and nearby Warrenpoint in hurling during the 1970’s was lauded for his 28-year contribution to the GAA and the many significant initiatives implemented which have brought the sport to a new level.
Congratulating the winners Sports Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín MLA said: “I welcome this opportunity to celebrate the hard work and dedication of our leading sportsmen and women.
“We have much to be proud of, whether we look at the local level or the international level, everyone involved is playing their part in showing the world that we can achieve in sport at the highest level.”
Maeve McKeefry, Brand Manager for Linwoods said: “One of the biggest and most important celebrations of sport in Northern Ireland, Linwoods is proud to sponsor the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards for a second year.
“The line-up for this year’s awards has been enthralling and we’re delighted to see so many new faces doing well and are proud too of our more seasoned sports people who shone ever more brightly in the world of sport.”
Dominic Walsh, Chairman of Sport Northern Ireland said: “Sport Northern Ireland is once again extremely proud to support the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards. The event gives us the opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the tremendous wealth of sporting talent from right across Northern Ireland in this very exciting Olympic year.
“As the lead agency for developing sport in Northern Ireland we are dedicated to working with sport from grassroots right through to high performance.”