Eight awards were won by GCH at the inaugural Connacht Athletics Awards – great report below by Connacht P.R O. Pierce O’Callaghan, who made these awards a reality.
McPhillips & Diver win inaugural Connacht Athletes of the Year Awards.
European U20 1500m Champion Cian McPhillips (Longford) and Tokyo Olympic Marathon 10th placer Sinead Diver (Mayo) have been voted the Connacht Athletes of the Year 2021 by a panel of 15 experts.
McPhillips had an exceptional year making the semi-final of the European Indoor 800m and breaking his fellow Longford man Ray Flynn’s Irish U20 1500m record in the process.
He beat off strong opposition including two Tokyo Olympic relay finalists Chris O’Donnell (North Sligo) and Cillín Greene (Galway City Harriers) who had the consolation of sharing the Paul Hession award for the Connacht Sprinter of the Year.
Sinead Diver broke new ground for both Ireland and her adapted Australia when she took a magnificent top 10 placing in the Tokyo Olympic Marathon.
The Belmullet woman, who is based in Melbourne but still a proud member of Mayo AC was the unanimous choice ahead of World relay medallist Sarah Quinn (St Colman’s South Mayo) and Swinford’s throwing sensation Michaela Walsh.
Galway’s Robert McDonnell won the U20 Athlete of the Year category for his 5th place finish in the European U20 200m final while Sligo-woman Erin Taheny won the women’s equivalent for her National sprint double.
The U18 categories were also top notch and the men’s award went to Liam Shaw (Athenry) who at 16 became the youngest ever Irish U20 Shot Put Champion as well as winning International Schools bronze while teenage Galway jumps sensation Angela Cielecka won the women’s equivalent over a very competitive field.
Fresh from his top 6 placing and team gold at the European Cross Country Championships in Dublin last weekend Keelin Kilreehill was voted the Connacht Cross Country runner of the year while Freya Renton (Westport) who won two National underage Cross Country titles this year has never been beaten in a Cross Country race.
The Masters awards were won by two long serving stalwarts of the sport at National level – Kathryn Casserly from Castlegar who has won over 30 Irish titles took the women’s award and the ever young Sean Breathnach took the men’s award.
The Hall of Fame award for significant contribution to Connacht Athletics went to former Connacht Council Chairman Michael O’Brien (Carrick-on-Shannon) who has fulfilled numerous roles within the sport and was a founding member of the very successful Carrick-on-Shannon athletics club in Leitrim.
The John McDonnell Connacht Coach of the Year was perhaps the most competitive award of the night and in the end the judges couldn’t separate Philip Finnerty for his trojan successes for his native Moy Valley and Brendan Glynn for his major impact in raising the level of Connacht sprinting including a hand in two of the mixed relay team in Tokyo as well as coach to Sarah Quinn who won a World Relay medal.
The Fr Kevin Ryle award for the Connacht Official of the Year was shared between Connacht Council Secretary Amanda Hynes (Swinford) and Athenry’s Iain Shaw, without whom no Connacht Championships could take place.
The club of the Year was shared between Moy Valley and Craughwell as two outstanding clubs who hare operating at the highest level in terms of athlete numbers, organising events, national medals won, and facilities built.
The Development club of the Year went to the popular newcomer Loch Lurgan who were only established in 2018 but already have 150 members, the best dressed athletes in the province and numerous athletes qualified at National level.
The prestigious discipline awards named after legends of the sport in Connacht went to:
- Paul Hession Medal to Connacht sprinter of the Year
- Chris O’Donnell (North Sligo) & Cillín Greene (Galway City Harriers)
- Mary Cullen Medal to the Connacht Distance Athlete of the Year
- Cian McPhilipps (Longford)
- Billy Glynn Medal to the Connacht Jumper of the Year
- Evan Hallinan (Craughwell)
- Martin Sheridan Medal to Connacht Thrower of the Year
- Conor Cusack (Lake District)
- Olive Loughnane Medal to Connacht Race Walker of the Year
- Cian McManamon (Westport)
- Mary Barrett Medal to the Connacht multi-eventer of the Year
- Louise King (St. Colman’s South Mayo)
The Pride of Connacht Athletics Inspiration Award was shared by Jessica Burke (Galway City Harriers) and Craughwell’s Shauna Bocquet for their inspirational deeds in raising funds for a track and finishing a race with a bleeding nose against all the odds.
The Awards will be presented in a glittering ceremony on zoom in early January with lots of special guests already confirmed.
The Connacht Council wish to congratulate all winners and nominations and wish all members a Happy Christmas.