Young sporting heroes recognised at Junior Sports Awards

Special Olympic Junior Athletes of the Year Liam Ross and Josh McCauley along with Seamus McGrath, sports association chairman, Rory Best, special guest, and Yvonne Jackson, ShoeFair Sports. INBL4013-JSA1
Special Olympic Junior Athletes of the Year Liam Ross and Josh McCauley along with Seamus McGrath, sports association chairman, Rory Best, special guest, and Yvonne Jackson, ShoeFair Sports. INBL4013-JSA1

The District’s annual Junior Sports Awards ceremony was held on Wednesday at the Belmont Hotel with over 190 future sporting stars, sports enthusiasts and VIP guests gathered to celebrate the special evening.

This year 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 53 nominations were received across seven categories, breaking all records since the awards first began in 2004, demonstrating the district has a rich pool of talented young people who merit recognition for their outstanding sporting achievements and performances throughout 2012/2013.

This prestigious annual event, which has grown considerably in stature and importance, brings together amateur athletes from 18 disciplines across the sporting spectrum. The awards recognise and reward sporting achievement, celebrating commitment and excellence in participation and performance throughout the district.

Speaking at the awards ceremony the Sports Association’s Chairman, Alison Wilson, congratulated both the award winners and nominees and also emphasised the value that sport plays.

She said, “We recognise the sporting achievement of our athletes, teams and clubs from within the Banbridge District and we all should be incredibly proud of those achievements especially when you consider the range of sports, 18 of which are represented here tonight and the level of achievement athletes from our district attain from Ulster and Irish representation to European, Commonwealth and World status.”

UTV Sports presenter Denise Watson compered the event with Yvonne Jackson from Donaghy’s Shoefair Sports, Alison Wilson from Banbridge District Sports Association and special guest rugby player Rory Best presenting the awards.

Two members of Banbridge Special Olympics Club were winners in the Special Olympic Junior Athletes of the Year category due to their achievements at the Special Olympic Regional Games. Josh McCauley and Liam Ross both won gold medals in separate events in the aquatics competitions.

Golfer Olivia Mehaffey was the overall winner in the Female Youth of the Year categor after taking the Munster Ladies and Girls U18 Championships. Being a regular member of the Ulster and Irish Teams, she was also recently selected to play for Great Britain and Ireland.

At present she is leading the Irish Girls Order of Merit for 2013.

Banbridge Cycling Club ace Shenna McKiverigan was named second while archer Rebecca Lennon as third. Susie Berry, Shannon Buller, Emma Cartmill, Aimee McAleenan, Lucy McAvoy, Clodagh McComiskey and Jenny Wilson were highly commended in this category for their achievements in equestrian, cycling, netball, camogie, karate, boxing and swimming respectively.

Cycling star David Montgomery was the overall winner in the male category after enjoying success in the Irish National Cross Country MTB and the Irish Cyclocross Championships. He is also a member of the Irish National Road and Track Development Squad as well as the Irish National Cross Country MTB Development Squad. He is the only junior in Ireland racing in four disciplines.

Archery champion Frank Lennon was second and hockey player Timothy Watt was third. Also highly commended in this category were gymnasts Matthew and Nathan Carroll, cyclist Mark Downey, tae kwondo star Tyler Evans, swimmer Nicky Galloway, athletics star Patrick McNiff, motocross competitor Jason Meara, karate star TJ Morris, boxer Oisin O’Dowd and footballer Andrew Wilson.

Junior Team of the Year went to Ballydown Primary School Boys after finishing third in the Athletics NI Primary School’s Cross Country Final while Banbridge Amateur Swimming Club’s 13–14 girls relay team, who won two gold medals at the Irish Age Group Championships, were awarded the Youth Team of the Year title. Banbridge Academy’s 1st XI Boys Hockey Team, who had another fantastic season winning the Burney and McCullough Cup, were the runners up.

Banbridge Netball Club won the Junior Club of the Year award.

Donaghy’s Shoefair Sports Special Achievement award, presented by Michael Donaghy, was presented to Ulster College’s All Star camogie player Aimee McAleenan from Liatroim Fontenoys GAA Club.

Councillor Elizabeth Ingram also presented a £500 bursary in memory of her late husband to Mark Downey for cycling, Rebecca Lennon for archery, Shenna McKiverigan for cycling and Olivia Mehaffey for golf. Banbridge Netball Club was also presented with a cheque for £250 in recognition of their clubmark accreditation.

The Banbridge District Junior Sports Awards are organised by Banbridge District Sports Association and Banbridge District Council with sponsorship from Donaghy’s Shoefair Sports and Intersport.