Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: Classy line-up in mix to be Player of Year


On cue: Antrim ace Mark Allen had a 2018 to remember
On cue: Antrim ace Mark Allen had a 2018 to remember
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

While Sports Star of the Year may be the marquee accolade at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards, one of the other prestigious prizes is the Malcolm Brodie Player of the Year Award.

Named after the legendary Belfast Telegraph Sports Editor who passed away in 2013, the award is given to an individual whose performances have been outstanding over the past year.

Once again, the award is split into two distinct categories: one for professional competitors (platinum) and one for amateur competitors (gold).

On the platinum side, Antrim's Mark Allen is one of the nominees after his sensational year saw him lift three rankings titles on the world snooker circuit.

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Among those wins were his maiden Major title in last January's Masters, and he soared up to fifth in the world rankings.

Londonderry darts hero Daryl Gurney has also had an excellent year and he's up for the award after he took down World No.1 Michael van Gerwen in the final of the Players Championship to win his second televised title.

Ulster and Ireland rugby sensation Jacob Stockdale is also in the running after his incredible year that saw him star for his province and take the world by storm on the international stage. Not only did the 22-year-old score the winning try in that spectacular win over the All Blacks in November, he set a new record with seven tries in the Six Nations on his way to being named Player of the Tournament during Ireland's Grand Slam-winning exploits.

British Touring Car champion Colin Turkington will also feel he has a case for the award after his third championship victory, the Portadown driver leading his BMW to the top of the standings.

Meanwhile, the fight for the gold award will be just as tight.

It was a fantastic year for Tyrone's Colm Cavanagh, who not only starred for his county in their run to the All-Ireland final and was named as an All-Star, he also had club success with Moy as they were victorious in the All-Ireland Intermediate Championship.

Gymnast Rhys McClenaghan will also be a strong favourite as the 19-year-old became both a Commonwealth and a European champion on the pommel horse.

The Newtownards man produced a simply stunning performance on the Gold Coast to beat Olympic champion Max Whitlock to the gold, before coming out on top at the European Championships in Glasgow too.

Ulster woman Ayeisha McFerran was incredible in Ireland's e run to the hockey World Cup final. She performed superbly in two shoot-out victories and was Goalkeeper of the Tournament.

Or perhaps it will be dual-sport star Caroline O'Hanlon, whose 2018 was successful both in netball and in Gaelic games.

The 34-year-old was part of the Northern Ireland netball team that qualified for the 2019 World Cup last January and went to the Commonwealth Games.

She starred for club St Patrick's Carrickcruppen as well as the Armagh ladies' football team as they reached the Ulster final.

Sponsor Celerion is Northern Ireland's leading medical research facility, making significant contribution to healthcare over the last 27 years and is passionate about the development of drugs to prevent, diagnose and treat a wide range of illnesses, including cancer and Alzheimer's.

Although a global company, Celerion prides itself on focusing on the needs of the local community. By offering free blood pressure and health checks, Celerion highlights the importance of a healthy lifestyle while demonstrating how clinical research can dramatically improve a person's quality of life, especially those suffering from life-threatening diseases.

Celerion recognises the role sport plays in creating a better, healthier society and feels it is important to recognise the outstanding achievements of our local sporting heroes.

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