OVER 200 guests and stars of track and field attended the Canon Hayes National Sports Awards 2012 on Saturday night in the Ballykisteen House Hotel near Tipp Town, to celebrate another year of sporting achievement topped off by Ireland’s performance in London’s 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.
Host Martin Quinn said the Awards have grown in statute since they were inaugurated in 1996, and now are regarded as some of the most prestigious in the country. “This is because they encompass all sporting disciplines, and they adequately reflect the top sporting achievements in any given year.” They are the “true barometer of the sporting year” reflecting the dedication and hard work that each of the nominees puts into their chosen discipline.
Minister for Sport and Tourism Michael Ring said none of the athletes would be where they are today without all the volunteers in the background, and urged people to “think about the young people coming up behind you. Just give them a small bit of your time. Money put into sport is an investment in the country. When people are taking part in sport, they’re fitter, and we’ll need less hospitals in the future.”
First up to accept the Local Award was Golfer Aoife Lowry, who made history for her club twice this year, firstly by winning her Mother’s Lady Captain’s Prize and secondly by winning the Daily Mail All-Ireland Foursomes partnered with her mother. This was achieved by progressively defeating opponents from clubs from around Ireland culminating in qualification for the Finals.
At Carnton House they were victorious over Lougall of Armagh in the semi-final and Malahide in the Final. A first for Tipperary Golf Club with back to back wins, and the first time the trophy has been won by a Mother and Daughter. Aoife has represented Munster in the Ladies Inter-Provincial Championships from 2008-2012 inclusive. Runners up in this category were Mark Hoban (Soccer), and Dermot Radford (Cycling).
Tipperary Minor Hurling Captain and Midfielder Bill Maher took home the silverware for the County Award. After winning an All Ireland Minor Football Title in 2011 Bill had the honour of leading the County to its 19th Minor Hurling title this year. The Kilsheelan/Kilcash clubman played a Captain’s part in steering Tipperary to All-Ireland success which saw them see off Dublin in the final after a replay. A dual star, Bill also played his part in ensuring that Tipperary retained their Munster MFC Crown, the first time that Tipp achieved back-to-back provincial titles in this grade since 1935. Runners for the County Award were the Tipperary Handballers, and Pat Murray (Golf).
The National Award went to a deserving Team Ireland - Paralympics Games, represented in Ballykisteen by Liam Harbison, Chef de Mission of Paralympics Ireland. An unprecedented haul of 16 medals, three world records, seven Paralympic records, and 17 national records was what Team Ireland returned home with from the London Paralympic Games. Eight Gold, three Silver, and five Bronze Medals was an astonishing achievement and well exceeded their medals target. While the games were special for every athlete there was added success and recognition for Michael McKillop when he received the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award for best exemplifying the spirit of the Paralympic Games. Mr Harbison said an added bonus was the number of women who took part: eight of the 15 winners in London were women.
Runners up in this category were Aidan and Joseph O’Brien (Horseracing), and the Irish Senior Showjumping Team.
The Outstanding Achievement Award was granted to the Irish 2012 Olympic Boxing team, represented by the President of the Irish Amateur Boxing Association, Tommy Murphy. Katie Taylor, John Joe Nevin, Paddy Barnes, and Michael Conlon, brought Gold, Silver, and Bronze home from London in 2012 and in doing so, “have written their names into the history books,” said Mr Quinn. “The Irish Boxing Team lifted the souls, minds, and hearts of the Irish people and their success was undoubtedly the outstanding achievement of 2012.”
‘Memory man’ Jimmy Magee regaled guests with anecdotes from his long and storied career in broadcasting, spanning a full half century. The Mick Doyle Golden Sporting Memory Award for 2012 went to the famous commentator who joined RTE in 1956, later covering his first world cup for RTE Radio in 1966. Jimmy Magee is the longest serving sports commentator, having started out as a reporter for the Radio Éireann programme Junior Sports Magazine. His broadcasting career saw him provide commentary for over 200 international football games, 30 European Cup finals, multiple Tour De France races, World Athletic Championships and boxing. He won a Jacobs Award in 1972 for his radio sports commentaries, and in 1989, he was the subject of a special tribute show on the Late Late Show. At this year’s Olympics in London, the International Olympic Committee presented him with a replica of its torch for service to the Games. He also launched his memoir, titled ‘Memory Man’ in 2012.
The Volunteer in Sport Award went to Polly Murphy (County Tipperary Community Games and Clonmel Swimming Club). Ms Murphy was instrumental in reviving the Community Games in the Cashel/Rosegreen area, and is the area’s Secretary, and the Area Delegate to the County Executive. Ms Murphy organises local athletics and assists with running the County Swimming Finals. As Chairperson of the Clonmel Swimming Club, she is involved in all aspects of the Club’s organisation. She also manages to find time to be a member of several different clubs, including Rosegreen Development Association, the local Parents’ Association, Fethard Rugby Club, the local Athletic Club, and Rosegreen GAA.
Runners up in this section were Terry Lonergan (Carrick Swans GAA), Geraldine Maher (Scoil Aonghus Special Olympics Club), Carmel O’Connell (St Mary’s Camogie Club), Jimmy O’Connell (Arravale Rovers GAA Club), Andrea O’Dea (Clonmel Junior Hockey Club), and Paul Scully (Fethard District Rugby Club).