Belfast Telegraph

Competition is fierce for Belfast Telegraph Team Of The Year award

By Ali Gordon

As sport in Northern Ireland continues to thrive, competition for the coveted Belfast Telegraph Team of the Year accolade gets even tougher.

Cliftonville scooped the prestigious title last year after the Irish League outfit won both the League Cup and the Irish League, and Tommy Breslin's men are in the running once again this year after emulating their achievements of the 2012/13 season in 2014.

Under the guidance of player-manager Gary Hamilton, Glenavon also earned major silverware, triumphing 2-1 over Ballymena United to win the 2013-14 Irish Cup.

It has been a tremendous year for football in Northern Ireland, not just in the Irish League but also for our national squad.

The Northern Ireland team have cruised to the top of Group F, winning all three of their games to date in their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, and have allowed fans to dare to dream of making the finals in Paris.

Former Donegal manager Jim McGuinness enjoyed unprecedented success during his four-year tenure at the club, transforming an under-performing team into one of Ireland's top sides in Gaelic football.

Donegal not only became 2014 Ulster Senior Football Champions but McGuinness' team also pulled off a massive shock to overcome holders Dublin in their All-Ireland semi-final to round off a glittering year with another All-Ireland final.

The Belfast Giants had an amazing 2014 season too, winning the league earlier than any other team in history.

The Commonwealth Games proved to be an incredible success, with Team NI bringing home 12 medals from Glasgow - Northern Ireland's biggest medal haul since 1986. The boxers secured a magnificent nine of Northern Ireland's 12 medals and the bowls team won another two.

With so many potential nominees, do you think Team NI should be split into their respective teams? You have the opportunity to decide.

In hockey, Ards Ladies showed that hard work really does pay off when they became 2014 European Indoor Club Champions, bettering last year's bronze medals, and completed a clean sweep of six victories from six games in the process to guarantee them a place in the second tier at the 2015 tournament.

Pegasus Ladies also had a super season, winning the Premier League for the 16th time in 17 years.

In the men's game, Newry Olympic's unbeaten season saw them become both Senior One and Linden Cup Champions.

Ulster Rugby managed to win all of their Heineken Cup group games last season to earn a home quarter-final but were agonisingly beaten 17-15 by Saracens at Ravenhill and also made it to the semi-final stage of the PRO12 competition.

These are some contenders. You may have other suggestions. If you do, please send them to us ahead of the annual Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards, to be held on January 26, 2015 at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Belfast.

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