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RTE Sports Award: Jonathan Rea among six Northern Ireland sports stars nominated

Jonathan Rea
Jonathan Rea
Jason Smyth
Kurt Walker
Ciara Mageean
Ciara Mageean
Jonathan Rea
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland celebrates with the FedExCup trophy after winning during the final round of the TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club on August 25, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)...S
Rhys McClenaghan
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

Five times consecutive World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea has been announced as one of the nominees for the RTE Sports Awards 2019 Sportsperson of the Year following his snub from the BBC equivalent.

The longlist of nominees for the RTE award includes no less than six sporting icons from Northern Ireland.

As well as Rea and golfing superstar Rory McIlroy, the list also includes Portaferry runner Ciara Mageean, Newtownards gymnast Rhys McClenaghan, Londonderry sprinter Jason Smyth and Lisburn boxer Kurt Walker all recognised for their sporting achievements.

Also among those nominated is golfer Shane Lowry who celebrated winning the prestigious Open Championship on its return to Northern Ireland at Royal Portrush.

RTE said its criteria for those that made the list should reflect Irish sporting achievements on the national and international stages as well as reflecting on their impact on the nation. Those who had won medals and championships were considered.

The BBC has come under huge criticism for not including record-breaking Rea on its 2019 shortlist for BBC Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY).

In 2017 Rea picked up over 80,000 votes when he finished runner-up to Mo Farah.

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On the BBC's decision to drop Rea from the shortlist, professional motorcycle racer Ryan Farquhar said he believes the sport is not perceived to be as glamorous as others and that may have contributed to the decision.

“I'm a road racer through and through, I love motorbike racing and what Jonathan has done in his field of the sport to be world champion five times in a row is something very, very special,” he said.

“I would have thought somebody who is representing their country and is a multiple world champion would have been in with a shout for BBC Sports Personality of the Year but there are other people who will argue that motorcycling is a minority sport.”

Meanwhile, it has also been revealed that Northern Ireland will not have any representation on the BBC's SPOTY judging panel.

A spokesperson for the BBC said that many contenders were considered and debated by an expert industry panel and that judges will bring a wide range of expert sporting knowledge.

The 26-strong RTE long list will be cut down to a final shortlist on Sunday, December 8 with the winner announced on Saturday, December 14.

Jason Smyth
Jason Smyth
Kurt Walker
Ciara Mageean
Ciara Mageean
Jonathan Rea
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland celebrates with the FedExCup trophy after winning during the final round of the TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club on August 25, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)...S
Rhys McClenaghan

The longlist of nominees for the RTE Sport Awards 2019 Sportsperson of the Year are:

JONATHAN REA

Antrim man Jonathan Rea secured a record fifth straight World Superbike title. Rea has surpassed Carl Fogarty's tally of four World Superbike titles and equals compatriot Joey Dunlop's achievement of five consecutive Formula TT world titles.

CIARA MAGEEAN

Ciara Mageean ran a personal best in the 1500m final at the Athletics World Championships in Doha, finishing in 10th place amongst a stellar field. She is only the second Irishwoman in history to make the world 1500m final, after Sonia O’Sullivan in 1997. The 26-year-old Portaferry runner also won her first indoor medal with bronze at the European Indoor Championships in Glasgow.

RHYS McCLENAGHAN

Rhys McClenaghan created history this year as he became the first Irish gymnast to medal at the World Championships, after claiming a bronze medal in the pommel horse in Stuttgart. He also booked a berth in the event at the 2020 Olympic Games by qualifying for the final earlier in the week.

RORY McILROY

The 30-year-old Northern Irishman won four titles during the season, including the Players Championship, the season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta, where he also claimed the FedExCup and the WGC-HSBC in Shanghai. In one of his most consistent years to date he was also named the PGA Tour ‘Player of the Year’ for a third time.

JASON SMYTH

Derry sprinter Jason Smyth scorched his way to his eighth World Para-Athletics Championships gold medal, winning the 100m in the T13 class in Dubai in a championship record time of 10.54 seconds. The 32-year-old was just .08 off his own world record time, set in London in 2012.

KURT WALKER

Boxer Kurt Walker won gold at the European Games after beating Mykola Butsenko of Ukraine in the bantamweight final. The 24-year-old from Lisburn beat top seed Peter McGrail of Britain on a split decision in the semi-finals, whilst he won the final on a unanimous decision over Butsenko, who was the second seed.

SAM BENNETT

The Carrick-on-Suir road cyclist picked up 13 stage wins in 2019, including a double victory at the Vuelta a España, where he secured the third and 14th stages. His performances this year cemented his place as one of the most prolific sprinters in the pro peloton this year.

LYDIA BOYLAN

Dubliner Lydia Boylan claimed Ireland’s first silver medal at the World Track Cycling Championship in five years. The 31-year-old narrowly missed out on gold by one point in the 25-kilometre Points Race in Poland.

JACK BYRNE

Shamrock Rovers and Ireland midfielder Jack Byrne had a standout season for the Hoops. The playmaker was rewarded for his efforts with a call up in the Republic of Ireland squad, ending the year with two caps and lifting the FAI Cup. He was also named the ‘PFAI Player of the Year’.

SEAMUS CALLANAN

Tipperary’s All-Ireland winning captain finished his summer with a scoring contribution of 8-18, scoring eight goals in eight games, including a goal and two points in their final win over Kilkenny.

STEPHEN CLUXTON

The inspirational Dublin stopper captained his side to a fifth All-Ireland title in-a-row. 37-year-old Cluxton had a phenomenal year, pulling off a string of vital saves and continuing to re-define the goalkeeper position.

CATHAL DANIELS

Galway's Cathal Daniels produced a magnificent performance at the Longines FEI Eventing European Championships in Germany to claim the individual bronze medal aboard Rioghan Rua. It is the first Irish senior European Eventing medal win since 1995.

KATIE-GEORGE DUNLEVY and EVE McCRYSTAL

The Irish tandem para-cyclists claimed time trial gold at the UCI Para-cycling World Championships, doing so for the third year in succession. The duo also took silver three days later in the women’s tandem road-race.

ELLEN KEANE

Ireland’s Ellen Keane won bronze in the 100m breaststroke SB8 at the World Para-Swimming Championships in London. Keane’s performance in the final was a season's best for the Dublin swimmer.

SINEAD GOLDRICK

Six-time All-Star Sinéad Goldrick put in a series of outstanding performances this year and scored a crucial goal for Dublin in their All-Ireland final victory over Galway, as the Sky Blues claimed a famous three-in-a-row.

NIAMH KILKENNY

Niamh Kilkenny collected the Camogie Association/WGPA Senior Players’ Player of the Year award following Player of the Match displays in both the All-Ireland semi-final and final, as the Tribeswomen claimed a third ever O’Duffy Cup with victory over Kilkenny.

SHANE LOWRY

Golfer Shane Lowry claimed his first major title in commanding fashion in the 148th Open at Royal Portrush. The Clara man battled miserable conditions to become the fifth Irish player to lift the Claret Jug. He also won his first tournament in three and a half years with victory in the Abu Dhabi Championship at the start of the year.

OISIN MURPHY

Killarney native flat jockey Oisin Murphy rode 166 winners in the season to be crowned ‘British Flat Racing Champion Jockey’. The 24-year-old is the youngest competitor to win the title since a 23-year-old Ryan Moore did so in 2006.

DONNACHA O’BRIEN

Donnacha O'Brien was officially crowned ‘Irish Champion Flat Jockey’ for the second time on the final day of the season at Naas. O'Brien's title victory means he matches the feat of his older brother Joseph, who won back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013.

AOIFE O’ROURKE

Aoife O'Rourke was crowned European Champion in Madrid as the Roscommon native defeated Poland's Elzebieta Wojcik in the 75kg final. She becomes only the second Irish female fighter after Katie Taylor to claim a gold medal at the championships.

DENISE O’SULLIVAN

Republic of Ireland star Denise O'Sullivan helped North Carolina Courage to the National Women's Soccer League title in the USA for the second year running. She was also named the clubs ‘Most Valuable Player’ for the second campaign in a row. The 72 cap international was also in excellent form for country and was named ‘Women's Senior International Player of the Year’.

SANITA PUSPURE

The Latvian-born rower successfully retained her women's single sculls gold medal at the Rowing World Championships in Austria. The Ballincolling resident also won a gold medal in the single sculls event at the European Rowing Championships in Lucerne, and in doing so, set a new European record.

DAVY RUSSELL

Jockey Davy Russell raced into the history books onboard Tiger Roll, as he became the first horse since Red Rum to win back-to-back renewals of the Aintree Grand National. It’s 46 years since Red Rum claimed the first of his three victories in the most famous steeplechase in the world.

KATIE TAYLOR

The Bray boxer made history by unifying all four World Lightweight titles with a hard-fought, narrow victory over Delfine Persoon at Madison Square Garden. With the victory, the 33-year-old added the WBC Lightweight title to her IBF, WBA and WBO belts. KT wasn’t finished though, as she moved up in weight to become only Ireland's third two-weight world champion, with a unanimous points victory over Christina Linardatou, adding the WBO Super Lightweight belt to her collection.

PAUL TOWNEND

The Cork jockey won the title of ‘Irish Champion National Hunt Jockey’, having ridden 109 Irish winners in the campaign, including five Grade One victories. The most famous of which was the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Al Boum Photo.

NICOLE TURNER

17-year-old Portarlington native Nicole Turner showed incredible resolve as she powered through the final ten metres to move from fifth to third and claim the bronze medal at the World Para-Swimming Championships in London.

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