Borough’s most inspirational athletes honoured at Junior Sports Awards

October 17, 2023

2023 has been a sensational year in sport for young people across the borough, with individuals, teams, schools, and clubs enjoying record-breaking runs and amassing an impressive collection of medals and top titles while representing Ulster, Ireland, and Great Britain in a plethora of major competitions at European and world level.

Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Sports Forum welcomed 170 guests to a glittering awards ceremony at Craigavon Civic and Conference Centre on Friday 13th October to celebrate their sporting achievements and hear the winners of the prestigious Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Junior Sports Awards announced.

Lord Mayor Margaret Tinsley congratulated the individual athletes, teams, coaches, schools, clubs, and volunteers who were shortlisted for an award, saying:

“These awards truly showcase our borough’s wealth of sporting talent and shine a light on the passion and commitment that every athlete here tonight has put into raising their game whilst competing this year.

“You have delivered some truly memorable and exhilarating moments on the sporting stage. I’m immensely proud of your achievements because I know the lengths you go to compete in the top echelons of sport.

“You have definitely set a very high benchmark for the next group of up-and-coming athletes to aspire to. I’m confident you will continue to achieve even greater success in your future sports career and hope your unstinting dedication transcends into other spheres too.”

During the event, compere U105’s Denise Watson invited Ulster Rugby’s rising star Nathan Doak to take the stage and share his unique sporting journey.

First up to collect a Volunteer Award were Emily Reid from Banbridge Hockey Club and Hannah-Rose Grady from Banbridge and Rathfriland Karate Club.

Banbridge Academy U14 Girls Hockey Team clinched the Junior School Team of the Year Award in recognition of their strong performance this season, winning the Ulster Junior Cup and scooping silver medals at the June Smith All Ireland Junior Schoolgirls Championship.

The Junior Club Team of the Year Award went to the Portadown Ladies Hockey Club’s U14 Team, the NI and All-Ireland Champions who represented Ireland at the European Hockey League Tournament.

All-Ireland U13 Shot Put Champion Ethan Connolly from Armagh Athletic Club was a deserving winner of the Junior Male of the Year Award.

All-Ireland and Irish National Cadet Champion Cassie Henderson from Phoenix Boxing Club took home the Junior Female of the Year Award.

The Youth School Team of the Year Award went to Banbridge Academy 1st XI Boys Hockey Team who won the All-Ireland Schoolboys Championship.

Ulster Provincial League and double Cup winners, Banbridge Rugby Football Club’s U18 Boys Team, won the Youth Club Team of the Year Award.

Venerated coach Arnold Morgan who led many individuals and teams from Ballydown Primary School, Banbridge Academy, Banbridge High School, and Killicomaine Junior High School to Ulster Championship wins and All-Ireland Silver medals scooped the School Coach of the Year Award.

The Club Coach of the Year Award went to Jason McKay – head coach at Banbridge Amateur Boxing Club who had boxers claim 4 All-Ireland National titles and 54 titles from County and Provincial fights.

Irish Junior Champion cyclist Seth Dunwoody took home the Youth Male of the Year Award. In his first stage race in Europe for his new team Cannibal B-Victorious U19 Development he came away with a classification winner’s jersey. At the UCI ranked stage race in France, it was victory again as he claimed 2 stage wins and the overall win. He is currently ranked 20th in the World UCI Rankings.

Archer Sinead Byrne from Ballyvally Archers won the Youth Female of the Year Award for achieving international success representing Great Britain at the European Youth Cup where she won individual silver and team bronze in Leg 1 and a team silver in Leg 2. At the European Youth Championships, she and her team members claimed a new European team record and a silver medal. Sinead is the current Senior and Junior Northern Ireland Indoor Champion.

Swimmer Alana Burns-Atkin received the Chairman’s Award. The two times Irish Open 200m Fly Champion was selected to represent Ireland at the European Junior Championships and Northern Ireland at the Youth Commonwealth Games.

Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Sports Forum Chairman, Cathal O’Neill, expressed his gratitude to the Council for organising the event and to all sponsors including headline sponsor, Manfreight Limited, for supporting this event.

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