Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland football heroes head glittering line-up at Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards

Pick your sporting moment of 2016

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis was a popular winner of the Malcolm Brodie Player of the Year Award at the 2015 Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards.

He won't be the only international footballer in the mix for the 2016 prize.

In fact the Northern Ireland supporters would tell you that every player in Michael O'Neill's squad should be in the running when the victor is announced, along with all the other award winners, at a glittering ceremony in Belfast early next year.

The Player of the Year Award, in honour of the Belfast Telegraph's legendary former Sports Editor, recognises an individual who has delivered outstanding displays on home turf and elsewhere.

Over the past 11 months there have been quite a few of them from the nation's footballers. Skipper Davis has delivered once more with superb displays at Windsor Park and around the globe, most notably during the Euro 2016 finals in France.

Michael McGovern, Gareth McAuley and Jonny Evans could say the same. They have formed the backbone of a rearguard that has proved incredibly hard to breach.

In attack Kyle Lafferty, Josh Magennis, Jamie Ward, Niall McGinn and Stuart Dallas all impressed at different times.

On the Irish League scene, Crusaders players are likely to dominate nominations from the public after another successful year. Sean O'Neill, Billy Joe Burns, Colin Coates, Paul Heatley and Jordan Owens all did enough in 2016, as the Crues retained their title, to merit consideration.

In GAA, Tyrone players showed their class in taking the county to a first Ulster Championship success since 2010.

Mattie Donnelly and Peter Harte were sensational for the Red Hand men this year, so much so that both were named in the All-Star team.

Sean Cavanagh, a previous Player of the Year winner, was another who shone, playing a captain's role for Mickey Harte's men in 2016.

Other previous winners of the Malcolm Brodie trophy include motorcycle aces Michael Dunlop and Ryan Farquhar.

Carrickfergus rider Alastair Seeley might join them on the list.

He created history this year by winning his 16th race at the North West 200, overtaking the record set by the late, great Robert Dunlop.

Robert's son Michael also illustrated his quality this year by shattering the lap record at the North West circuit. He also broke fastest lap records at the Isle of Man TT, where he was successful in the Superbike category.

Hockey fans will tell you another Player of the Year contender should be Paul Gleghorne, who was an inspirational figure in Lisnagarvey's successful season and was a key player for Ireland at the Olympics in Rio.

Talking about inspiring characters, what about Ulster and Ireland star Rory Best, who led the men in green to a famous victory over New Zealand earlier this month. Best was the captain of Ireland in that unforgettable success against the All Blacks in Chicago.

Boxer Jamie Conlan is another worthy of consideration. He finished 2016 with a comfortable victory over David Koos in his native Belfast but it was his Fight of the Year success against England's Anthony Nelson to claim the Commonwealth Super Flyweight title which captured the imagination.

Athlete Ciara Mageean also had a promising year, qualifying for the Olympics and reaching the 1500m semi-finals.

We're sure you'll have a few suggestions of your own for Belfast Telegraph Player of the Year and we'd love to hear them.

To nominate please email 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.

As well as looking for your nominations in the various categories of the 2016 Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards, you can also vote for Northern Ireland's greatest sporting moments of the year.

Please see the 10 options can vote for your favourite at in the Sports Awards section.

• Gareth McAuley's Euro 2016 NI goal v Ukraine

• Carl Frampton beating Leo Santa Cruz

• Jonathan Rea retaining his World Superbike title

• Bethany Firth's golden world record

• Jason Smyth's gold at Paralympics

• Michael McKillop's gold at Paralympics

• Rory Best leading Ireland to victory over New Zealand

• Rory McIlroy winning FedEx Cup

• Tyrone lifting the Ulster Championship

• Alastair Seeley breaking Robert Dunlop's NW200 record

Belfast Telegraph


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