The sporting success stories of the Derry City and Strabane District Council area were celebrated at the Sports Awards ceremony last night at the Everglades Hotel, when representatives from all sports came together to celebrate a fantastic year in local sport.
Among the special guests on the night were ex-Republic of Ireland international and Celtic goalkeeper Packie Bonner and Hannah Shields, the first woman from Northern Ireland to summit Mount Everest, while former BBC sports presenter Denise Watson was the MC.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr Elisha McCallion said she was extremely proud of all the local sporting achievements and paid tribute to clubs, teams and individuals across the Council area who are involved in sport.
The chairman of the newly established Sports Forum Seamus McGilloway said the awards was an excellent way of acknowledging the achievements of local sports persons as well as the work done behind the scenes by clubs and teams of all levels to promote sport and an active healthy lifestyle.
Among those who were acknowledged at the ceremony was the late Derry City striker Mark Farren who lost his battle with cancer earlier this year. Tributes were paid to the former FAI Player of the Year 2005, scoring 18 league goals in 31 games for his contribution to football and who, against all the odds, went on to become Derry City’s all-time leading goal scorer with 114 goals. Representatives from his family were in attendance to receive the 2016 Hall of Fame Posthumous Award in his honour.
The Sports Star of the Year award went to City of Derry Spartans member Danea Herron who competed at local, provincial, national and international representing Ireland in the World Masters Games in Lyon, France in August 2015 and whose achievements have included being Ranked 9th in World in Women 55 Heptathlon, securing the Scottish Masters Heptathlon Championship 2015 and breaking the Irish W55 Triple Jump Record.
Joint winners of the Special Award on the night were Bready Cricket Club and Francis Henderson. Bready received the award for their success in co-hosting an ICC T20 World Cup Qualifying Tournament bringing international cricket to the North West for the first time in well over 10 years while Francis Henderson was acknowledged for his role in preparing Nuala Brown for the Irish Team for the Special Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
The winner of the Club of the Year went to 2 Castles Amateur Boxing Clun for the work they do in offering children from rural communities an opportunity to try the sport of boxing and for securing funding to deliver a boxing outreach programme. The teams’ successes were also acknowledged with six 9 county championship winners, one silver national schools champion, four UIster champions, one female Irish national champion and one male Irish national champion.
The Team of the Year honour went to Glenelly Ladies Senior Football team for their success in claiming the Tyrone County Title and representing their county in the provisional series. Seeing off competition from Lisummon of Armagh and Kisnaskea of Fermanagh to set up the decider against Donaghmoyne of Monaghan, this led them securing the Ulster Ladies Intermediate Championship in November 2015 for the first time in the clubs history, a remarkable achievement for such a small rural community.
St Columb’s College U-16 Hurling team received the School Team of the Year award following their success in beating teams from Antrim, Tyrone and Donegal on their way to be crowned Ulster champions, lifting the Gerard Maguire Cup. Their success has helped promote and develop a strong hurling culture in the city and district.
The Young Female Sports Star of the Star award was awarded to Summer Lecky who was acknowledged for her remarkable achievements in the High Jump when she secured a bronze medal at the European Youth Olympics in Tiblisi. Described as a fantastic role model, she was praised for her commitment, hard work and dedication.
There were two winners of the Young Male Sports Stars of the Year awards – Ben Pollin and Jordan Harrigan joint winners in this category. Ben Pollin is the currnet Northern Irish, Irish and British Champion having won gold at this year’s British Open while Jordan’s achievements in the European Karate Stage at the Danish and Scottish open were acknowledged.
The Sports Star with a Disability Award went to Nuala Browne, who was recognised for her multi skilled athletic talent and ability to compete in various sports and in particular her excellence in the sport of kayaking. A competitor in the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles, she secured her first podium finish in the 500m event and then went on to secure silver medal success in the 200m event.
The winner of the Disability Coach of the Year award went to Declan Doherty, City of Derry Boating Club’s longest serving coaches and captains who was responsible for first introducing Karol Doherty to the sport of rowing and worked tirelessly with Rowing Ireland to obtain adaptive equipment to facilitate his training.
Aoife Foley’s coaching skills were acknowledged when she secured the Young Coach of the Year title for her efforts in delivering clubs under 6 coaching progamme and securing a Goldmark Millennium Volunteer award.
The Female Coach of the Year title was secured by Leona McFadden for her contribution to securing a junior world champion gold medal at the World Karate Federation World Championships while Danny Gallagher was honoured with the Community Coach title award for his work in mentoring and coaching hundreds of young people, adults and coaches and inspiring them to participate in both recreational and competitive football.
Simon O’Dowd was named Coach of the Year for his work with Ireland’s and Strabane’s best karateka, coaching the international youth squad and senior competitors.
Thanking everyone for coming along to the Awards, the Mayor Cllr Elisha McCallion extended her congratulations to all the winners and nominees and paid tribute to everyone involved in the awards.
“Its important that we recognise and acknowledge the achievements of local teams and individuals. There are so many people out there doing all they can to promote sport. They are all great ambassadors for the city and district and are positive role models for future generations,” she concluded.