What a year it has been for the St Oliver Plunkett Youth 1997s football club. Managed by Stevie Lynch, the boys from Belfast have won trophy after trophy and now they have their hands on another one – the Belfast Telegraph Young Team of the Year.
They started 2012 in style by lifting the DB Sports All-Ireland title, defeating League of Ireland outfit Shelbourne in the final.
They retained their national league title and the NI Cup at the Ballymena Showgrounds against Cliftonville.
St Oliver Plunkett then won the Umbro Galway International Cup, defeating teams from all over Ireland, and followed that success by claiming the Rocara All-Ireland inter league title.
Such is the quality in the squad, six of the boys represented County Antrim in the Milk Cup during the summer and three players from the team were involved in Northern Ireland's Victory Shield squad, including captain Seanna Foster.
It is little wonder that so many scouts representing professional clubs from across the water have been looking at the talent in the St Oliver Plunkett under-16 ranks.
Former Northern Ireland skipper Jim Magilton has worked with the boys and gave this fitting tribute.
“All of the boys epitomise what is great about football and the qualities it can bring – honesty, respect, camaraderie, work ethic and joy. I feel fortunate to have worked with this group of young men,” said Jim.
Nominee - Donemana Cricket Club under-15
The future of Donemana Cricket Club looks to be in gifted hands if their under-15 team is anything to go by.
The boys savoured a superb year in which they had an unbeaten record lifting the North West League Cup, North West Cup and All-Ireland under-15 cup.
It's no surprise that locally they are known as ‘the Dream Team', having made a clean sweep of trophies since under-11 level. It's not just ability that has seen them record so much success but a real togetherness that is a huge compliment to all involved with the Donemana club.
Nominee - Ballyclare High School 1st XI Girls Hockey
In one of the most dramatic finishes of the sporting year, Zoe Wilson scored a fabulous goal for Ballyclare High School to beat Lurgan College 2-1 after extra time in the final of the Belfast Telegraph Schools Cup.
The victory over the defending Ulster and Ireland champions was the highlight of a fantastic year for Ballyclare High, who remained unbeaten at Ulster level all season and secured the silver medal in the All-Ireland Schools Kate Russell trophy, which they hosted. The Ballyclare girls also won the North East Antrim League for the fourth year in succession.
Nominee - Methodist College Rugby team
Methody won their 33rd Northern Bank Schools Cup in 2012 with one of the most dominant displays by any of their revered school teams. The Belfast-based college were simply too strong for Ballyclare High School at Ravenhill, taking a 17-0 lead at half-time thanks to tries from Rory Winters, James Harrison and Conor McKee.
Methody completed a 22-6 victory after the break with Chris Gracey scoring a try to ensure a fourth Schools' Cup success for coach Nick Wells in seven years in charge.
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