Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: Get your tickets now for the gala ceremony
The judges have met and the decision-making is under way for the 2017 Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards. You can be there to find out who wins at the gala awards ceremony on Monday, January 29.
This year's event will once again be held at the Waterfront Hall with BT Sport's Craig Doyle returning to host for a second year alongside fellow TV presenter Claire McCollum.
Last year saw a hugely successful awards night in Belfast as more than 500 people were in attendance to celebrate a brilliant 2016 in sport.
The likes of two-weight World champion boxer Carl Frampton, Ulster and Ireland rugby captain Rory Best, Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill and goalkeeper Michael McGovern, and Paralympic swimmer Bethany Firth all took home awards for their achievements.
And after an equally exciting 2017, with so many brilliant achievements racked up by sporting stars across the country, competition will be fierce for the 14 awards on offer as we recognise the amazing accomplishments of our local stars.
How can I get tickets for the awards ceremony?
The black tie event includes a pre-dinner drinks reception, four course meal, wine on the table and sporting show. Tickets cost £75 plus vat and £750 for a table of 10, contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who are some of the contenders for the awards?
The likes of Jonathan Rea, who won an unprecedented third successive World Superbike Championship, and World champion boxer Ryan Burnett will be in contention for Sports Star of the Year.
Paralympic athletes Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop will also be in the running for the prestigious award after both won gold at the World Championships in London over the summer, and both will also stand a chance of taking the Sports Person with a Disability prize.
Despite not making it to next year's World Cup, the Northern Ireland football team will again be up for Team of the Year after once again defying the odds to make it to a play-off.
Boss Michael O'Neill will stand a good chance of defending the Manager/Coach of the Year award he won last year, but he'll find some strong opposition from Irish League bosses David Healy (Linfield) and Oran Kearney (Coleraine).
In Gaelic games, Slaughtneil once again have proven the standard bearers in football, hurling and camogie among Ulster clubs as they bid for an historic 'double treble'.
Cyclist Mark Downey has also had an excellent year, winning gold at the Track World Cup, while Daryl Gurney has burst onto the darts scene with some exceptional performances which have seen him rise to fourth in the world.
It's been a great year for women's sport as well, with the latter stages of the Women's Rugby World Cup at Kingspan Stadium and the Queen's University playing fields right up there as one of the sporting events of the year.
The likes of Banbridge golfing star Olivia Mehaffey, who is currently playing a key role with the Arizona State Sun Devils, the Irish women's hockey team, who qualified for next year's World Cup, and boxer Michaela Walsh, who won gold at the EU Championships, are all in with a shout of an award.
The George Best Breakthrough prize will be handed to someone who has burst onto the scene, while there will also be an accolade given for the Top Sporting Moment of 2017 with the likes of the Irish Open held at Portstewart, the U19 Women's European Championships and the Women's Rugby World Cup events that will live long in the memory.
Grassroots sporting heroes will be recognised too through the Local Heroes Award and Paddy Patterson Award for Services to Sport, while up and coming young stars have the chance to be acknowledged in the Young Player of the Year and Young Team of the Year sections.
There will also be a Special Recognition Award handed out to a sporting star who has made a significant impact over the last year.
And another Northern Ireland sporting legend will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, joining last year's entrant Dennis Taylor.
This year there will be a new all-female award with the aim of recognising more women making a difference within Northern Ireland sport: the Game Changer Award sponsored by Electric Ireland, given to someone who has made an impact on the Northern Ireland sporting landscape in the past year making it better and stronger for females.
Dame Mary Peters will head the judging panel that will ultimately determine who will take home the awards, where she will be joined by the Belfast Telegraph's Sports Editor Jim Gracey, SportNI's Shaun Ogle and Angela Platt of the NI Sports Forum.
What are the awards categories?
SPORTS STAR OF THE YEAR
This is awarded to a person identified with the province whose sporting performances or achievements are deemed outstanding. This category applies to high performance athletes in both the able bodied and disability spheres. Recent winners have included Carl Frampton, Michael Conlan and Rory McIlroy.
MALCOLM BRODIE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
(sponsored by Celerion)
The award will be made to an Ulster player whose sporting performances are identified with the province and whose performance and overall contribution is deemed outstanding. There are two awards in this category:
(i) Platinum: This award is for a full-time professional sportsperson.
(ii) Gold: This award is for an amateur sportsperson.
TEAM OF THE YEAR
A team based in or identified with Ulster, whether club or composite, which has achieved remarkable success in the current year. There are two awards in this category:
(i) Platinum: This award is for a full-time professional team
(ii) Gold: This award is for an amateur team.
YOUNG PLAYER OF THE YEAR
(sponsored by Decathlon)
An individual aged 19 or under on December 31, 2017, and identified with the province whose sporting performances or achievements are deemed outstanding. Please focus (if appropriate) on world-level achievements.
YOUNG TEAM OF THE YEAR
A team with members aged 19 or under on December 31, 2017, and identified with the province, whose performances or achievements are deemed outstanding.
MANAGER/COACH OF THE YEAR
An individual identified with the province whose managing/coaching achievements are deemed outstanding. There are two awards in this category.
(i) Platinum: This award is for a full-time professional coach/manager.
(ii) Gold: This award is for an amateur coach/manager.
SPORTS PERSON OF THE YEAR WITH A DISABILITY
This category is applicable to grassroots teams and individuals and is open to people identified with the province and involved in a recognised category of sport for people with a disability whether as performers, organisers or supporters.
GAME CHANGER AWARD
(sponsored by Electric Ireland)
This is a female-only category and aims to recognise an individual woman (age 18 and over) who has made an impact on the Northern Ireland sporting landscape in the past year making it better and stronger for females. It is open to female athletes, coaches and administrators and is accessible for all levels of sport from professional to grassroots and everything in between.
WJ ‘PADDY’ PATTERSON SERVICES TO SPORT AWARD
This recognises individuals who have brought honour to the province and served Ulster sport with great distinction over a period of years. The service may be as an administrator, manager/coach or referee etc. NB: This award is made by the NI Sports Forum.
GEORGE BEST BREAKTHROUGH AWARD
This award recognises a sporting individual who has made a spectacular rise during the past 12 months. This award is made by the sports writers of the Belfast Telegraph.
LOCAL HEROES AWARD
This award recognises special achievement at grassroots level. Nominations may be for both clubs and/or individuals.
HALL OF FAME
This award recognises an Ulster sportsperson whose contribution to sport through the years has been outstanding. This award is made by the sports writers of the Belfast Telegraph.
SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD
(sponsored by Volvo)
This award recognises outstanding achievement and is an additional award agreed by the judges. At the judges’ discretion, more than one award may be presented