Some great performances from Irish athletes this season, including those of – but not restricted to – Ciaran O’Lionaird , Deirdre Ryan, Mark Kenneally, Alistair Cragg, Kate Veale and Jessica Barr.
The National Athletics Awards in association with Woodie’s DIY and Tipperary Crystal will take place on Saturday 12th of November in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Santry. The awards ceremony is be a celebration of the many successes of our athletes during 2011. It also commemorates our exceptional volunteer base. The prestigious award winners are selected by a panel of well-respected athletics experts with a wide knowledge and understanding of all disciplines of the sport. The committee is chaired by Jim Kidd and the members are Brid Golden, Phil Conway, Geraldine Nolan, Eamon Coghlan and Ray Flynn.
There was a host of reasons to call 2011 one of Athletics Ireland’s most successful campaigns in recent years. At the European Indoor Championships there was one fourth placing, while at the World Track and Field Championships there was one top eight position and five athletes finished in the top 16. There were 60 new Irish records set compared with 39 in 2010; 10 Youth, 21 Junior, nine U23 and 19 Senior. There were 10 medals won at underage major championships including Kate Veale’s Gold winning performance in the 5km walk at the World Youth Championships. The exceptional level and depth of performances by emerging athletes, has resulted in the Awards Selection Committee splitting the previously known Junior/Emerging category into Emerging Athlete of the Year, Junior Athlete of the Year and U23 Athlete of the Year.
The Emerging Athlete of the Year nominations include World Youth Gold medallist Kate Veale (West Waterford AC) and the three European Youth Olympic Festival medallists, Ruairi Finnegan (Letterkenny AC) – Gold medal in 1500m, Ben Kiely (Ferrybank AC) – Gold medal in 400m hurdles and Siofra Cleirigh Buttner (DSD AC) – Silver medal in the 1500m.
The athletes nominated in the Junior Athlete of the Year category are Joanne Mills (Ballymena and Antrim) – 4th in the 400m at the European Junior Championships, Ciara Mageean (City of Lisburn) – 2nd in the 1500m at the European Juniors and she also set a new Irish Junior record, Thomas Barr (Ferrybank AC) – 6th in the 400mH at European Juniors and has broken the Junior Irish record three times this season and Mark English (Letterkenny AC) who has set a new Irish Junior Indoor and Outdoor records over 800m this year.
The U23 Athlete of the Year nominees are; Jessie Barr (Ferrybank AC) – 5th in the 400mH at the European U23 Championships and she also broken the U23 record twice this year, Steven Colvert (Crusaders AC) 6th in the 200m at European U23’s, Brian Gregan (Clonliffe Harriers) 2nd in the 400m at the European U23 and 5th in the World University Games and Darren McBearty (Letterkenny AC) who qualified for the semi-final of the 800m at the European Indoor Track and Field Championships.
The nominations for Track and Field Athlete of the Year are; Derval O’Rourke (Leevale AC) who finished in fourth place in the 60m hurdles at the European Indoor Championships, Deirdre Ryan (DSD AC) – sixth place in the High Jump at the World Track and Field Championships in Daegu and broke the Irish record twice this year, Ciaran O’Lionaird (Leevale AC) – smashed his personal best to achieve World and Olympic qualification and finished in 10th place in the 1500m at the Worlds and Alistair Cragg (Clonliffe Harriers) – made the World 5000m final and subsequently set a new 5000m Irish record.
The Endurance Athlete Award, this year will incorporate the Cross Country and Road, and Race Walker of the Year. The nominations are Olive Loughane (Loughrea AC) for her 16th place finish in the 20km walk at the World Championships, Robert Heffernan (Togher AC) for his Irish best performance in the 10km at the IAAF Race Walking Challenge in Spain, Fionnualla Britton (Kilcoole AC) – fourth place the European Cross Country Championships and Alistair Cragg (Clonliffe Harriers) for his Half Marathon performance in New York running 60:49.
The Master of the Year nominations are Joe Gough (West Waterford), Geraldine Finnegan (Dunleer AC) and Peter Matthews (DSD AC), all of whom have competed with merit at a National and International Level.
The nominations for Coach of the Year are John Downes (Dunore AC), Teresa McDaid (Letterkenny AC), Tom Pendergast (Ferrybank AC) and John Shields (Clonliffe Harriers). The nominations for Club of the Year are Clonliffe Harriers, DSD AC, Ferrybank AC and Finn Valley AC.
This year there is an addition of a special Team Award, the nominations are; the European U23 Cross Country Gold medallist team, the Ferrybank women’s team, who finished second at the European Club Championships gaining promotion to Division One, the Clonliffe Harriers men’s team who achieved four in a row when winning the Premier Division at the League Final and the women’s 4x400m relay team who set a new Irish Record placing 12th at the World Championships.
The Athlete of the Year, Inspirational performance of the year, Outstanding Official Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award will all be announced on the night.
The format of evening will be a black tie gala dinner with a live band to round the evening’s entertainment off after the presentation of awards. Tickets are priced at €100 and can be purchased on-line on www.athleticsireland.ie or by telephone + 353 (0)1 8869933 + 353 (0)1 8869933.
A great evening in store then on 12th November – the first of the major awards evenings to brighten those long Winter nights. Hopefully our National TV channel will provide coverage of what promises to be an evening to remember – even if it cannot be shown live. It is no more than the athletes deserve and with the event in Santry funding should not be a problem !
Anyone not included in the nominations that should have been there ? – feel free to add your thoughts on this subject.