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Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: Quality line-up in race to be our Manager/Coach of Year

By Steven Beacom

Being crowned Manager/Coach of the Year at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards requires strong leadership, an ability to inspire those you work with and achieving success.

There were plenty of candidates from Northern Ireland who did all of the above and more in the last year.

Along with our finest sportsmen and sportswomen they will be celebrated at the 2016 Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast on Monday, February 6 when Claire McCollum and Craig Doyle present the star-studded show.

The Manager/Coach of the Year prize will be sponsored by Active Financial Life.

Contenders will include the award winner for 2015, Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill, who guided his team to the Euro 2016 knockout stages.

Namesake and former Northern Ireland captain Martin O’Neill did the same for the Republic of Ireland. Since the tournament in France, both men have ensured that this year Northern Ireland and the Republic have every chance to qualify for the 2018 World Cup finals.

Continuing on the football theme, Stephen Baxter led Crusaders to their second Irish League title in a row, outlining his quality, while Glenavon player/manager Gary Hamilton was an instrumental figure as his team won the Irish Cup.

Tyrone boss Mickey Harte was another man who saw his players lift silverware as the Red Hand county collected the Ulster Championship trophy.

Former Ulster coach Mark McCall, in his role as Director of Rugby for Saracens, was delighted to see his club clinch English Premiership glory and the European Champions Cup.

Lisnagarvey hockey coach Errol Lutton also had plenty to celebrate this year, leading his side to the EY Hockey League Champions trophy.

Revered and respected swimming coach Nelson Lindsay will also be in the running.

Lindsay was a driving force for Bethany Firth, who won an extraordinary three gold medals and a silver at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

These are just some of the names in the frame. There are many others who were nominated with our judges having the difficult task of coming up with a shortlist and eventual winner.

The winners and those shortlisted will be announced at the 2016 Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards next month.

Category sponsors Active Financial Life are delighted to be involved.

Breeda Toner, Independent Financial Adviser for the company, commented: “We understand how important sport is in the local community and indeed throughout Northern Ireland and the need to recognise the achievements of amateurs and professionals alike.

“As a local firm based in the Mid Ulster area our aim is to promote how understanding your own health helps you get healthier and we also look at how some companies like Vitality who offer insurance protection for life, serious illness, health etc are rewarding its members in order to get them motivated.

“We are therefore particularly excited to sponsor the Manager/Coach of the Year category as we believe that these individuals provide essential leadership, co-ordination and encouragement needed to enable people to achieve their full potential.”

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