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Sports Awards: Pro or amateur, our Teams of Year will be top of their game

By Adam McKendry

The collective can sometimes be more than the sum of all its parts, and it is in the Team of the Year Award at Monday night’s Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards that WE will recognise those sides who have enjoyed an excellent 2017.

The Team of the Year Award, sponsored by specialist home improvement company The Home Design Group, will go to a team that has excelled beyond all expectations, both on a local or global level.

This is another prize that will be split into two categories — a platinum award for a professional team and a gold award for a non-professional team with eight nominees in all.

Up for the platinum award are the Northern Ireland football team, after they narrowly missed out on World Cup qualification.

Despite being eliminated by Switzerland, Michael O’Neill’s men still had an excellent campaign, finishing second in their group and winning five of the nine matches they played over the year.

Competing with them will be Linfield’s treble-winning squad, who claimed the Gibson Cup, Irish Cup and County Antrim Shield in a fantastic season that saw them claw back what seemed to be an impossible deficit to leaders Crusaders.

Also in the running are the Ireland cricket team, who were awarded Full Member status by the ICC, while they also played two highly competitive One Day matches in England.

The final nominees are the Tyco BMW motorcycling team, who enjoyed great success in 2017, including a record-breaking win at the North West 200. Ulster racer Alastair Seeley, with his Superstock race win, made it 25 North West wins for Tyco’s parent company, TAS Racing.

Meanwhile, the gold award will be just as competitive as another four nominees would all be worthy winners.

Tyrone GAA had a fantastic season as their senior football team retained their Ulster title — their 15th overall — and won their sixth successive Dr McKenna Cup, while their Under-17 footballers also won the inaugural Ulster Under-17 Championship before going one step further by adding the All-Ireland crown too.

Another cricket team are up for honours in the form of Waringstown’s quadruple-winning team, who made it a record-breaking season with their four-trophy haul of the Gardiner Bros Premier League, the Irish Senior Cup, the Ulster Cup and the NCU T20 Cup.

The Northern Ireland netball team will fancy their chances, too, after a great year that saw them qualify for this year’s Commonwealth Games, as well as taking silver in October’s European Championships and reaching a record high of eighth in the world rankings.

The final nominees are Banbridge Hockey’s 1st XI, who brought home the double of the Irish Senior Cup and EY Hockey League in 2017 and followed that up with an historic run to the knockout stages in the European Hockey League.

The Home Design Group is one of Northern Ireland’s specialist home improvement companies which offers their customers an extensive range of high quality products for their homes at prices that are affordable.

Siobhan Winston, General Manager of The Home Design Group, said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring Team of the Year at this year’s Belfast telegraph Sports Awards.

“Team work is such an important part of what we do here at The Home Design Group and what we pride ourselves on as a company.

To be sponsoring this award feels like a great natural fit.

“Team work, communication and dedication is at the centre of all we do as a business and its this quality that makes our company stand out from the crowd.”

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