It was a very different format to this year’s Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Senior Sports Awards as the red carpet was rolled out virtually with the winners being announced via cyberspace by compere Denise Watson from U105.
With the unfortunate cancellation of the awards ceremony due to Covid-19 it was every bit as important for the council and the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Sports Forum to celebrate what was an unforgettable year of sporting glory at a local level and pay tribute to the sports stars of the borough.
The new approach saw videos premiering each day on the council’s Facebook pages announcing the shortlisted nominees and winners in each of the nine categories. Presentations were made to each recipient, albeit following strict social distancing measures, at Craigavon Civic Centre by representatives from the ABC Sports Forum, the Lord Mayor and Martin Walsh from headline Sponsor Rushmere Shopping.
Speaking at the award presentations Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough, Councillor Kevin Savage, said: “We are always in awe at the level of excellence achieved in the sporting arena by the clubs and individuals in the Borough. Participating at the highest level requires talent and dedicated determined effort, sacrifice and substantial support from backroom specialists, friends and family. It is so important for the council to be able to recognise the incredible talents through these awards. The honour that has been brought to the borough through their success in sport is greatly appreciated by all my fellow Aldermen and Councillors.”
The Sports Forum were overwhelmed, not least by the number of nominations, but primarily by the exceptionally high standard of achievement which included Ulster, Irish, and Great Britain representation, as well competing at European and World Level with no less than seven Olympic and Paralympic athletes who are hoping to compete in Tokyo next summer.
Chairman of the Sports Forum, Edith Jamison, said: “The wealth of talent in our borough is exceptional which is why it was important for us to be able to recognise these achievements, albeit in a different manor than we normally would. I extend my thanks to the Lord Mayor for the support offered from Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council which enables us to organise and celebrate the sporting excellence across the borough. I would also like to thank our headline sponsor Rushmere Shopping Centre and each of the individual category sponsors. Finally congratulations to all the shortlisted nominees and each of the category winners, and I wish you continued success in your sporting endeavours.”
The awardees recognised at this year’s awards ceremony are as follows:
Volunteer Awards sponsored by Irwins Quality Aggregates
Paul Hannigan from Banbridge Cycling Club, Connor Campbell from Disability Sport NI, Colin McDonnell from Banbridge and Rathfriland Karate Club and Caroline Meenan from Portadown Rugby Football Club.
Service to Sport Award sponsored by Raffles
Deidre McGrath from Aghaderg GAC and Ballyvarley HC; Brian Cairns from Banbridge Cycling Club and Calvin Rowe from Portadown Rugby Football Club
Sports Person with a Learning Disability sponsored by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council
Golfer Jill Connery
Sports Person with a Physical or Sensory Disability sponsored by Kingspan Water and Energy Limited
Para-cyclist Christopher Burns
Senior Team of the Year sponsored by Ulster Carpets
St Mark’s Bowling Club’s Fours Team
Senior Coach of the Year sponsored by Sport Northern Ireland
Hanover Football Club’s Steven Hyndes
Club of the Year sponsored by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council
Lurgan Rugby Football & Cricket Club
Runner Up Sportswoman of the Year sponsored by Rushmere Shopping Centre
Camogie, Gaelic Football and Road Bowls star Kelly Mallon
Sportswoman of the Year sponsored by Rushmere Shopping Centre
Irish Hockey International Bethany Barr
Runner Up Sportsman of the Year sponsored by Rushmere Shopping Centre
Irish Cycling International Mark Downey
Sportsman of the Year sponsored by Rushmere Shopping Centre
Irish Rowing International Philip Doyle