Belfast Telegraph

Homegrown heroes need all our support

There has been a measure of controversy over the shortlist for this year's BBC Sports Personality of the Year after it was revealed that no females had made the cut. That was an undoubted slight on some very talented athletes, but there is equally no doubt that those nominated are deserving of their place. And none more so than two men from here - golfers Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy. This has been their year and they have brought fame and distinction to this province.

For such a small population we have a habit of producing outstanding sportsmen and women and these two golfers rank the equal of any of our other sporting heroes including incredible jump jockey Tony McCoy and world champion boxer Barry McGuigan - the only two winners of the coveted trophy to come from Northern Ireland. Darren and Rory have also scaled the summit of their sport holding the British and US Open titles respectively.

Rory is the new tiger of the fairways, a young man whose star seems in an ever upward ascent and it seems only a matter of time until he adds more major titles to his list of achievements.

He is also a very likeable young man who is having to live his life in a goldfish bowl of attention, but is managing to stay relatively grounded, no mean achievement for a man of tender years who is worth millions.

Darren is a different character, a man who has striven long and hard to gain his major title, and whose success this year was a surprise but a very welcome one.

For all their talent, Darren and Rory need our help to lift this particular trophy. It is decided by public vote and the presence of yet another golfer in the shortlist could damage their chances unless the Northern Ireland public really get behind their men. Voting often and early is a tradition in Northern Ireland and that is something that we would urge everyone to do today to ensure one of the two gains the recognition they deserve.

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