Belfast Telegraph

Legends make awards a night to remember

By Jim Gracey

New world cycling champion Martyn Irvine was a special guest in a star-studded line-up of sporting legends at City Hall on Wednesday night for the Belfast City Council Sports Awards.

Other guests included Hall of Fame recipients Billy Hamilton, Davy Larmour and the first local man to run a four-minute mile, Derek Graham.

Hamilton will forever be remembered for his World Cup exploits, while Larmour found fame with his heroics in the boxing ring.

The prestigious awards recognise particularly those who coach and also people who contribute behind the scenes at local clubs, as well as the athletes themselves.

North Belfast Olympic bronze medallist Paddy Barnes (below) was named Senior Male Sports Personality, while the female category was won by west Belfast handball player Aisling Reilly.

In the Junior Sports Personality category, winners were swimmer Sycerika McMahon and Charlie Eastwood, for success in karting.

The Senior Coach of the Year title was shared by St John Bosco duo Gerard McCafferty and John Conlan, who helped guide boxer Michael Conlan to Olympic bronze.

Volunteer of the Year was shared by Gerry Brady (multi-skills) and Alfred Hagan (Deaf Sports).

The success of the Antrim Ladies Gaelic football team – who won the All-Ireland Junior Championship – and the Northern Ireland Ladies netball squad, now ranked 10th in the world, showed it was a particularly strong year for women's sports.

The awards were presented by Olympic gold medallist Dame Mary Peters, Lord Mayor Gavin Robinson and Chairman of the Parks and Leisure Committee, Councillor Gerard McCabe.

Fifteen categories were announced, with nominations up by 50 per cent, and the Lord Mayor congratulated all the nominees as well as the winners.

"I am delighted to have so many Olympians and Paralympians with us this evening, you have done a great job representing your city and region," he said.

"But while we are rightly proud of your achievements, it is important to recognise all the sport that goes on in the city.

"We have a broad range of sports people represented here tonight thanks to everyone who took the time to make a nomination. Sport is a uniting factor, building bridges and friendships as well as that competitive spirit to win, so the council is investing a lot of money in its future in Belfast.

"This includes £600,000 for boxing, £3million for the Mary Peters Track, and £10million to upgrade pitches," he said.

"The council is also working in partnership with the Stadia project at Windsor and Casement Parks," he added.

BBC sports presenter Joel Taggart hosted last night's awards bash.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph