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Search is on for Northern Ireland's top coach


Shane McGuigan spars with Carl Frampton

Shane McGuigan spars with Carl Frampton

Shane McGuigan spars with Carl Frampton

Tommy Breslin beat off some fierce competition to become the 2013 Manager/Coach of the Year at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards... and the Cliftonville boss is in the running to claim the prestigious title for this year, though the competition is even tougher.

What an incredible year 2014 has been for managers and coaches making a contribution to sport in Northern Ireland.

The list is a long and illustrious one of coaches and managers who have played inspirational roles in the success of the teams or individuals they work with.

For starters we have Solitude boss Breslin, who was delighted to receive his award, sponsored by Volvo, last time for guiding the Reds to both the league title and League Cup.

Tommy followed that up this year by doing exactly the same again, making history in the process as Cliftonville secured their first ever back-to-back championships.

Breslin hasn't been the only football manager to shine this year.

What about Brendan Rodgers and Michael O'Neill?

Carnlough man Rodgers took Liverpool from a seventh place finish in 2013 to Premier League title challengers in 2014 with the Merseysiders only just missing out in the end after a scintillating run.

O'Neill is on one himself with the Northern Ireland team, leading the side to impressive Euro 2016 group victories over Hungary, the Faroe Islands and Greece becoming the first boss to enjoy THREE wins in this country's opening three qualifying games.

Rodgers, a previous winner of the Manager of the Year prize, and O'Neill are sure to be in the running for honours at the 2014 Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards, sponsored by Linwoods.

Former Donegal manager Jim McGuinness enjoyed unprecedented success during his four-year tenure at club, transforming an under-performing team into one of Ireland's top sides in Gaelic football. After leading Donegal to a 2014 Ulster Senior Football Championship victory, McGuinness' team pulled off a massive shock to overcome holders Dublin to round off his glittering career with another All-Ireland final.

The Commonwealth Games proved to be a magnificent success after a late rush of boxing medals meant that Northern Ireland returned home from Glasgow with its biggest medal haul since 1986.

Team NI Boxing Head Coach John Conlan (left) has earned his place among this year's contenders after taking his boxers to nine medals at the Games, accounting for a spectacular 75% of Northern Ireland's total medals.

Continuing on a boxing theme, Shane McGuigan is definitely worthy of consideration. The 26-year-old helped Tiger's Bay boxing ace Carl Frampton to maintain his unbeaten record and become the IBF World super-bantamweight champion after the epic Titanic Showdown against Kiko Martinez.

Belfast Giants former coach Paul Adey had an excellent year, leading the Giants to one of their greatest seasons to date. The Giants not only won the Elite League in the 2013/14 season in the quickest time ever but also reached the finals of both the Challenge Cup and the Playoff Championship.

And let's not forget the magical Michael Bannon, who coaches Rory McIlroy so superbly. Bannon was a key figure as McIlroy won two Major titles in 2014.

These are just some contenders. You may have ideas and nominations of your own. If so please send them in to us. Check out the advert below for details ahead of the annual Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards, celebrating our 20th year, and set to be held on January 26, 2015 at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Belfast.

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