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Nominate a local sports hero for Belfast Telegraph Sports Award Hall of Fame

By Steven Beacom

Published 18/11/2016

Fame game: Martin O’Neill receives the Hall of Fame at the 2015 Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards from Chris Nelmes, of The OUTLET, Banbridge
Fame game: Martin O’Neill receives the Hall of Fame at the 2015 Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards from Chris Nelmes, of The OUTLET, Banbridge

It is regarded as one of the biggest and best accolades in Northern Ireland sport.

A quick look at the list of recipients for this honour and it is clear that you need to be an extremely special person to be considered.

We are talking about the Hall of Fame prize at the annual Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards.

For more than two decades legendary figures from Northern Ireland sport have been inducted into our Hall of Fame.

And YOU have an opportunity to nominate another of the country's iconic sporting heroes to be recognised at the 2016 Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards, which will be held early next year.

The most recent winner of the coveted award was former Northern Ireland captain and current Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill.

There was genuine warmth and affection from the audience for the ex-Leicester City and Celtic boss as he joined an elite band of greats. The man himself was touched to receive the award from old international team-mates and close friends Pat Jennings and Gerry Armstrong.

You could have heard a pin drop as the three of them recounted stories of the 1982 World Cup finals. Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill and Neil Lennon, who played for Martin at Leicester and Celtic, also paid glowing tributes.

The 64-year-old from Kilrea was the latest in an impressive list of Northern Ireland footballers to be inducted into the Belfast Telegraph Hall of Fame.

Pat and Gerry were already there alongside Billy Bingham, Bertie Peacock, Harry Gregg, David Healy and of course George Best. What a list.

When you throw in the other sporting sensations honoured in this way, it gives an indication of just how many wonderful people we have had representing Northern Ireland throughout the ages.

Rugby legends Jack Kyle, Willie John McBride and Mike Gibson have all been inducted into the Hall of Fame, as have GAA greats Sean O'Neill, Paddy Doherty and Mickey Harte.

Athletics heroes Dame Mary Peters and Maeve Kyle are in the star-studded line-up along with golfer Norman Drew, motorsport hero Paddy Hopkirk, boxer Barry McGuigan and the finest jump jockey of all time, Tony McCoy.

When Martin O'Neill collected his trophy, he said: "This means a great deal to me. I'm so delighted. I really am honoured and overwhelmed to be in the company of the people who have already won it. To be presented with this award and to be on stage with Gerry, Pat, Neil and Michael is just great."

Who will savour that magical moment at the 2016 Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards?

Well, we are certain that our readers can come up with some suggestions and we would love to hear them.

To nominate a Hall of Fame candidate please email sportsawards@jcomms.co.uk or write to Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards, c/o Jcomms, Sylvan House, 232-240 Belmont Road, Belfast, BT4 2AW. Please include your reasons why you believe they should win the award. Nominations close on December 9.

Belfast Telegraph Group Sports Editor Jim Gracey said: "The Hall of Fame prize is always one of the highlights of a fantastic night at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards.

"This award gives us an opportunity to recognise a true Northern Ireland sporting legend who has done the country proud.

"When you consider the amazing list of past winners it shows what a special country this is for producing sporting talent.

"People like Martin O'Neill, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the 2015 Sports Awards, can also inspire the younger generation to go on and be outstanding in their fields."

Belfast Telegraph

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