So many contenders, but only one can win
Published 01/12/2012 | 00:00
Competition to win the coveted Belfast Telegraph Player of the Year award will be fierce given the high calibre of contenders in what was a vintage year of sporting achievement.
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Young Player of the Year - click here to nominate
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Manager / Coach of the Year - click here to nominate
Sports Person of the Year with a Disability - click here to nominate
WJ Paddy Patterson Services to Sport Award - click here to nominate
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Local Heroes - click here to nominate
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Special Recognition Award
This award recognises outstanding achievement and is an additional award agreed by the judges.
Last year’s award went to Ulster and Ireland star Rory Best and rugby has again produced a few outstanding candidates for the prestigious accolade.
It has been a great year for Ulster rugby and most of the team are worthy contenders for the award, with Stephen Ferris among those who has shone brightest.
The Ireland star has stormed back from a career-threatening knee injury to produce superb performances in Ulster's march to the Heineken Cup final at Twickenham, picking up three Man of the Match awards on the way.
Ferris has also figured in Ulster’s great unbeaten start this season, with the Ravenhill side topping the Pro12 League and on course to progress in the Heineken Cup.
In GAA, Michael Murphy captained Donegal to the Ulster and All-Ireland titles.
He began the Croke Park final with a bang, goaling to put Donegal on their way against Mayo. At 23, there is much more to come from Murphy.
In hurling, Liam Watson reached the pinnacle of excellence with Loughgiel, pulling them through a tricky semi-final against Limerick's Na Piarsaigh with an exemplary display of free-taking, before his stunning three-goal haul in the final against Edenderry of Offaly to secure the All-Ireland title.
Peter Thompson’s goals helped Linfield to a third successive IFA Premiership and Irish Cup double.
Goalkeeper Sean O’Neill was the rock upon which Crusaders’ All-Ireland and League Cup triumphs were built, with Jordan Owens providing the firepower.
Ballymena’s Gary McCutcheon was the Irish League’s top scorer with 34 goals before making the switch to Seaview, while Liam Boyce has been regularly finding the net in Cliftonville’s title bid this season.
Ulster’s boxers have been highly successful at amateur and professional level over the years.
Carl Frampton has blazed a trail through the paid ranks, winning the Commonwealth super-bantamweight title and racking up 15 straight wins.
Expect Barry McGuigan’s protege to become world champion sooner rather than later.
Belfast boasts two world class amateurs in Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan, the pair bringing home bronze medals at light flyweight and flyweight respectively from the London Olympics.
Barnes also collected bronze in Beijing in 2008.
Goaltender Stephen Murphy shone in the Belfast Giants success story in 2012.
The Giants had missed out on the Elite League title by a single point in each of the previous two seasons but finally got their hands on the big prize again.
Murphy and co also reached the Challenge Cup final and did themselves proud with a courageous display in the Continental Cup — the ice hockey equivalent of the Champions League.
Motorbike racing is one of the great sporting passions in Ulster, and 2012 saw the retirement of one of our greatest ever road racers, Ryan Farquhar deciding to call it a day at the age of 36.
Farquhar went out at the top, with the record of 127 Irish National road race wins, a milestone previously held by the legendary Joey Dunlop on 118.
In cricket, Paul Stirling was man of the match in the World Twenty20 Qualifying tournament final in the UAE — when Ireland beat Afghanistan — after hitting the second fastest 50 ever, off just 17 balls. He was out for 79.
In a badly rain-affected season, Stirling scored over 400 runs at an average of 32 and also took 21 wickets with his under-rated slow bowling.
The Middlesex professional also made his 100th appearance for Ireland, and at the age of just 21.
Ulster has two world handball champions, Paul Brady and Aisling Reilly.
This is only a flavour of the contenders for the Belfast Telegraph Player of the Year award.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.