Stars shine at District’s Junior Sports Awards

THE district’s annual Junior Sports Awards ceremony, which saw 175 people gather at the Belmont Hotel yesterday evening, has proved to be one of the best in terms of nomination numbers - marking this an unforgettable year of sporting glory at a local level.

A total of 44 nominations were received across seven categories, breaking all records since the awards first began in 2004 and demonstrating that the district has a rich pool of young people who merit recognition for their outstanding sporting achievements and performances throughout 2011/2012.

Banbridge District Sports Association Chairman Alison Wilson congratulated both the awardees and nominees, saying, “It is fantastic to see so many young people doing so well in sport. We hope that by recognising and celebrating their success we are motivating and giving them the desire to achieve their dreams in sport.

“Given the depth and breadth of sporting individuals that were nominated for this year’s awards, we can be assured that the future of sporting achievement in the district will be secure for many years to come.”

These awards were organised by Banbridge District Sports Association and Banbridge District Council with sponsorship from Donaghy’s Shoefair Sports and Intersport.

Denise Watson, a sports presenter with BBC NI, compered the event while Yvonne Jackson from Donaghy’s Shoefair Sports and Alison Wilson from Banbridge District Sports Association presented the awards.

The awardees to be recognised at this year’s awards ceremony include:

Special Olympic Junior Athletes of the Year - Six members of Banbridge Special Olympics Club were winners in this category due to their achievements at last year’s Area Advancement Games. Steven Daly, Alex Dawson and Sean McPolin each won a gold medal in athletics whereas Stefan McGrath took home two gold medals in athletics. Liam Ross won gold in bocce and athletics and Stacey Smyth won gold in soft ball.

Female Youth of the Year - Golfer Olivia Mehaffey was overall winner in this category after finishing second in the European championships and representing Ireland U16 and U18. She is also a member of the Irish Ladies Golf Union High Performance Programme.

Second and Third Female Youth of the Year: Banbridge Karate Club ace Victoria Bushby was named second Female Youth of the Year and cyclist Shenna McKiverigan as third Female Youth of the Year. Rebecca Lennon, Jemma Jackson, Adrianna McMullan and Jenny Wilson were highly commended in this category for their achievements in archery, athletics, boxing and swimming respectively.

Male Youth of the Year: Karate star TJ Morris was overall winner in this category. TJ won a silver medal at the British Opening Karate Championships and a bronze medal at the British Home Nations. He also was winner of a gold medal at the Scottish Open Championships.

Second and third Male Youth of the Year: Boxing champion Conor Vint was named send Male Youth of the Year and swimmer Nicky Galloway third Male Youth of the Year. Also highly comomended in this category were archer Frank Lennon, cyclist Mark Downey, footballer Jack Chambers, gymnast Matthew Devlin, hockey player Ben Cosgrove, athlete and swimmer Patrick McNiff and tennis player Scott Armstrong.

Junior Team of the Year: Ballydown Primary School Cross Country Team took this title after being crowned County Armagh Champions at the NI Athletes Cross Country Championships in 2011 and 2012. The girls’ team won the Southern Sports Partnerships Cross Country Championships and came first in the Flahavan’s Primary Schools Cross Country Ulster Championships in 2012. The boys’ team also came third in this competition last year.

Youth Team of the Year: This award went to Banbridge Academy’s 1st XI Boys Hockey Team who had a tremendous season winning the Burney Cup at the All Ireland Championships.

Junior Club of the Year Award: This award went to Banbridge Hockey Club Ladies Section. This club was established back in the mid 90’s with a small number of volunteers and an initial membership of 25. With the move to Havelock Park the club had grown in size, capability, structure and governance with upwards of 160 members. Catering for three age categories - primary school, U13 and U15 the club also has a strong focus on developing the coaching team to ensure each girl has the opportunity to reach their potential. The Club has also recently been awarded Clubmark accrediation.

Donaghy Shoefair Sports Special Achievement: This award was presented by Michael Donaghy to Ulster League and Cup winners, Banbridge Rugby Club’s U17 Team.

Councillior Elizabeth Ingram also presented a £500 bursary in memory of her late husband to Adrianna McMullan for boxing, Mark Downey for cycling, Olivia Mehaffey for golf and Nicky Galloway for swimming.

Banbridge Hockey Club and Dromore Ladies Hockey Club were also presented with a cheque for £250 in recognition of their Clubmark accreditation.

- There is more coverage, including reaction from the prizewinners and a picture slideshow on our websites at banbridgeleader.co.uk and dromoreleader.co.uk