Every passing week brought something new to admire with superstar Rory McIlroy shining brightest of all, earning him the coveted crown of 2012 Belfast Telegraph Sports Star of the Year.
The 23-year-old from Holywood took our breath away with his glorious golf in a 12-month period which saw him claim several stunning tournament victories, including his second Major, to finish top of the money list in Europe and America. Magnificent.
He also played a significant and dramatic role in helping his continent triumph in the Ryder Cup in the States. And, of course, he became the world number one in his sport.
For as long as I have been involved with these awards we have had four stars on the shortlist for our main prize, but such was the excellence shown by our athletes last year, this time 12 were nominated in tribute to their marvellous feats.
Rory won the Sports Star of the Year prize but Olympic medal winners Paddy Barnes, Alan Campbell, Peter Chambers, Richard Chambers and Michael Conlan, Paralympic gold medal winners Bethany Firth, Michael McKillop and Jason Smyth, boxer Brian Magee, who became world champion in 2012, legendary jockey Tony McCoy, who rode to glory in the Gold Cup, and Curtis Cup golfing star Stephanie Meadow made up an illustrious list that may never be bettered in terms of Northern Ireland sporting achievement.
On a star-studded night at the Ramada Plaza Hotel, some of those mentioned above won prizes such as Olympic rowing heroes Alan Campbell and the Chambers brothers plus London 2012 boxing sensations Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan who were recognised with Special Achievement awards. Michael also took away the prestigious George Best Breakthrough prize.
Michael McKillop and Jason Smyth shared the Sports Person with a Disability award while Bethany Firth was named Young Sports Star of the Year.
The record-breaking Ulster Rugby squad enjoyed more success with the Team of the Year prize while the inspiration behind a club hurling All-Ireland title for Loughgiel Shamrocks, PJ O'Mullan, was the Manager of the Year at the Belfast Telegraph awards, sponsored by Linwoods and supported by Sport Northern Ireland.
The Local Heroes prize was awarded to fencing stalwart Fiona Haldane, with Ken Nixon a well-deserved winner of the Paddy Patterson award. The St Oliver Plunkett football team claimed the Young Team of the Year accolade.
Footballing great Gerry Armstrong, over 30 years on from that iconic winning goal against Spain in the World Cup, was inducted into our Hall of Fame, with motorcycling ace Ryan Farquhar a popular winner of the hotly- contested Player of the Year prize.
Our thanks to Linwoods, Sport NI and BBC NI for use of their footage on the night and presenters Jackie Fullerton and Claire McCollum, who did such a fine job.
Thanks too, to my fellow judges Shaun Ogle from the Sports Institute Northern Ireland, Rosemary McWhinney from the NI Sports Forum and hockey legend Jimmy Kirkwood for their invaluable input and expertise on making so many difficult decisions, after our readers provided hundreds of nominations.
We have many magical memories from 2012. Here's to more glorious moments ahead for our sporting heroes in 2013.
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