SLIDESHOW: Stars come out for final Banbridge Sports Awards

The cream of local sportsmen and women were ‘going for gold’ for the last time at the Belmont Hotel last week as the final Banbridge District Sports Awards took place.

The evening was a fantastic opportunity to celebrate local sporting achievement throughout the years as well as during 2014. Also in attendance at the awards were previous Chairmen of the Association as well as past winners of the Sportman and Sportwoman of Year awards.

Special Olympic Athletes of the Year, Emma Higgins (Athletics), Darren McClatchey (Bocce), Tony Lunny (Gymnastics), Paul Ewbanks (Gymnastics) and Jill Connery (Golf) pictured at Banbridge District Senior Sports Awards with Sports Association Chairman Michael Watt, Sponsor Michael Donaghy (Shoefair Sports), Sports Association Treasurer Seamus McGrath, Banbridge District Council Chairman Cllr Marie Hamilton and Master of Ceremonies Denise Watson (UTV Sport) �Edward Byrne Photography INBL1510-205EB

Special Olympic Athletes of the Year, Emma Higgins (Athletics), Darren McClatchey (Bocce), Tony Lunny (Gymnastics), Paul Ewbanks (Gymnastics) and Jill Connery (Golf) pictured at Banbridge District Senior Sports Awards with Sports Association Chairman Michael Watt, Sponsor Michael Donaghy (Shoefair Sports), Sports Association Treasurer Seamus McGrath, Banbridge District Council Chairman Cllr Marie Hamilton and Master of Ceremonies Denise Watson (UTV Sport) �Edward Byrne Photography INBL1510-205EB

Compère for the evening was Denise Watson, sports presenter with UTV Sport, who welcomed the 180 guests to the prestigious sporting event with the winners receiving their awards from Michael Donaghy from Donaghy Shoefair Sports and Michael Watt from Banbridge District Sports Association.

The Sports Association was also delighted to welcome Special Guests Peter Sinclair and Yvonne Jackson who were the first winners of the Sportsman and Sportwoman of the Year Award back in 1989 for their achievements in 1988.

Special Olympian Denise Fegan was also in attendance as special guest for being the first Special Olympian from the district to win a gold medal at the World Games.

Speaking at the awards, Michael Watt, Chairman of Banbridge District Sports Association, said: “It is the role of Banbridge Sports Association to recognise and support not just the sportsmen and women within the District, but also the coaches and volunteers as they are often the unsung heroes providing valuable support and guidance to our local sporting fraternity.”

The award winners recognised at the event for their outstanding sporting achievements in 2014 were as follows.

Special Olympic Athletes of the Year

Jill Connery, Paul Ewbanks, Emma Higgins, Tony Lunny and Darren McClatchey, who all received an award for their achievements during 2014.

Sportswoman of the Year

The winner was Motocross Rider Natalie Kane who was the Winner of the Women’s British National Championships and the Swedish Championships. Runner-up was Down Ladies Senior All Star Aileen Pyers.

Sportsman of the Year

The winner was Commonwealth Games Triathlete Russell White. Runner-up was Ballyvally Archer Mark Nesbitt.

Senior Team of the Year

This was awarded to Banbridge Hockey Club’s Mens 1st XI who in 2014 were winners of the Euro Club Championships.

Club of the Year

This Award recognises not only a club’s achievements but also the development of their club and the sport. Established back in 1955 Dunbarton Bowling Club has continually found success at both regional and national Level.

The Club prides itself in a well-established and managed structure which is no doubt accountable for its success.

The Club had a great season in 2014 winning two of the four major Irish Titles; as well as reclaiming the Private Greens Senior League title and reaching the Irish Cup Final. Interestingly this Club was also winner of the very first Club of Year Award back in 2000 and this also pays tribute to the hard work and dedication of all its members.

Coach of the Year

Ulster and Irish Cycling Coach Nicola McKiverigan.

Service to Sport

This was awarded to Banbridge Amateur Boxing Club President Jim Scullion.

Lindsay Corkin Award for Special Achievement

This was the fourth year of this award and is presented in memory of the late Lindsay Corkin. This year’s recipient was Banbridge Athletics Club Head Coach and organiser of the annual Bann 10K and Fun Run – Heather Ardis

Special Recognition Award

One final award was presented in recognition of an accomplished sporting individual.

Yvonne Jackson was the winner of the very first Sportswoman of the Year Trophy back at the awards in 1989 and from then went on to win it a further four times for her efforts on the squash court.

She is a former Ulster Number One and competed both for Ulster and Ireland on numerous occasions. This award recognises her success by being the winner of the most Banbridge Senior Sports Awards.