The winners of the Belfast Telegraph Young Team of the Year award have a very hard act to follow.
Last year’s winners, Lurgan College 1st XI girls hockey team, achieved a clean sweep of trophies, proving absolutely unstoppable throughout the year.
Placed against the backdrop of the lack of playing facilities at College Walk and the constant need to travel to train and play matches, it makes the feat all the more remarkable.
But there are plenty of worthy contenders this time around as well.
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Special Recognition Award
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Ballyclare High School beat Lurgan College 2-1 after extra-time in the final of the Belfast Telegraph Schools Cup at Lisnagarvey, succeeding the all-conquering Co. Armagh school as champions.
Zoe Wilson grabbed the decisive goal in the second period of extra-time.
In schools’ GAA, St Michael's College from Enniskillen staged a thrilling second-half comeback in the MacRory Cup final to deny old foes St Patrick's of Maghera, despite being a man down for the closing stages.
The Enniskillen boys were powered by the free-taking prowess of Eddie Courtney, as well as others such as Niall Shannon and Ryan Hyde, who have subsequently been called into Peter Canavan's extended Fermanagh training panel.
St Michael’s then edged out Munster champions PS Chorca Dhuibhne by a point in the Hogan Cup semi-final, before losing to St Mary's Edenderry in the decider.
Methodist College Belfast’s rugby team won their 33rd Northern Bank Schools' Cup title with a 22-6 victory over Ballyclare High School at Ravenhill.
Methody, playing with a strong wind at their backs in the first half, were 17-0 up at the break through tries from captain Rory Winters, James Harrison and Conor McKee.
Chris Gracey scored a fourth try minutes before the final whistle to complete the victory, despite a spirited fightback from Ballyclare.
The victory represented a fourth Schools' Cup success for Methody coach Nick Wells in seven years in charge.
St Oliver Plunkett YC under-16 footballers have claimed unprecedented success in recent years and in the last 12 months in particular.
In January they won the DB Sports all-Ireland title, beating League of Ireland club Shelbourne over two legs.
In May they retained the National League and the Northern Ireland Boys’ Football Association Cup double and were only denied a tremendous treble in the League Cup final.
There was another double in August, with victory in the Galway Cup international youth tournament and the Rocara all-Ireland inter-league contest against a North Dublin Schools League select team.
It was only last month that they lost their first league game in the calendar year and their only other defeat came in the League Cup final.
Three of the players are also in the Northern Ireland Victory Shield squad and six featured in the County Antrim Milk Cup team, where they came up against Liverpool.
Northern Ireland have had huge success at under age level, with both the under-17 boys and girls teams — and the under-19 girls — progressing to the elite stage of their respective European Championships.
This underlines the massive strides being made in under age football coaching and the excellent system in place.
Certainly senior Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill — and his counterpart in the women’s game, Alfie Wylie — should benefit from this success story in the very near future.
This is just a flavour of some of the outstanding young teams setting such high standards.
It all bodes well for the future of local sport.
But what team will follow the brilliant Lurgan College 1st X1 as Belfast Telegraph award winners?
We’re sure you, the readers, will have your own ideas — and we would love to hear them.
Last year's winners
Sports Star of the Year: Darren Clarke
Hall of Fame: Mike Gibson
Player of the Year: Rory Best
Young Player of the Year: Sycerika McMahon
Team of the Year: Linfield FC
Young Team of the Year: Lurgan College girls' hockey team
Manager/Coach of the Year: Brendan Rodgers
Sports Person with a Disability: Sally Brown
WJ ‘Paddy’ Patterson Award: Danny Murphy
George Best Breakthrough Award: Peter Chambers
Special Recognition Award: Michael Dunlop
Local Heroes Award: Ian Sloan
The Purpose of the Awards
The purpose of the awards sponsored by Linwoods and supported by Sport Northern Ireland , is to identify sporting achievement and recognise those individuals, teams and organisations whose contribution to Ulster Sport is outstanding. Nominations for the awards may be made by organisations, governing bodies of sport, district councils, local sport councils and individuals.
Nominations close on Saturday 1st December at 5pm and can either be posted by clicking on one of the links above or by hard copy which should be no more than 200 words. Hard copy nominations should be posted to Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards, C/O JPR, Sylvan House, 232-240 Belmont Road, Belfast BT4 2AW or email email@example.com.
Everyone who nominates has the opportunity to claim 5 x 20p off vouchers of Linwoods' Super Healthy Milk drink, a new low fat and fresh milk product enriched with probiotic and vitamins, plus some free Linwoods Healthy Super Food Seed samples.