Young stars are honoured

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YOUNG sporting starts in the the Craigavon area were honoured recently.

Craigavon Sports Advisory Council recognised the many achievements of junior teams and individuals at its annual Junior Sports Personality of the Year Awards at a gala evening at Craigavon Civic and Conference Centre.

This year the committee received over 51 nominations in six categories, including 17 teams, with every nominee receiving a medal from Triathlon star and special guest Portadown’s Conor Murphy. Sponsors on the evening were Kingspan Environmental Ltd, NA Sports, The GAA Store and The Beautiful Game.

Speaking at the evening, Conor was particularly impressed with the calibre of the young athletes.

“All present at this ceremony have a lot to feel good about. They have dedicated their efforts and achieved the highest accolade possible in their own particular sport. I know that everyone involved is equally proud of all of their achievements,” he said.

The Minor Girl Award went to talented golfer Niamh Ward from St Mary’s High School for her exceptional achievements throughout the season.

Niamh represented Ireland in the Scottish Girls U16 Championships and finished fourth in the Lahinch Scratch Trophy. This is a prestigious adult competition with competitors from all over Ireland.

In the closely contested Junior Girls category, the award was shared between two very talented sportswomen.

Laura Casey was recognised for her exceptional achievements in Triathlon where she was placed ninth in the U19 Girls World Youth Olympics in Singapore and finished in the top 30 in the U20 Elite Junior Women Triathlon Championships in Budapest.

Natalie Barr was also a winner, for a season which saw her captain Ulster to success at the UK School Games and also Lurgan College First Eleven Hockey Squad to Mid-Ulster, Ulster and All-Ireland triumphs. Natalie was selected onto the Ulster U21 Squad maintaining her record of representing Ulster for five consecutive seasons at each age group.

In the boys’ categories, Badminton star Martin Lau took the honours in the minor section after enjoying a season which saw him placed third in the Irish U15 Boys Singles Championships and becoming both the Irish U15 Boys Doubles Champions and Irish U15 Mixed Doubles Champions.

Adam Stirling from Karting emerged victorious in the Junior Boys section in a year which saw him competing in the World Karting Championships. Adam had a top ten finish in Germany, a third place finish in France and a win in Spain. This event had an entry of over 100 of the best international kart drivers in the world.

All the categories were hotly contested with the team awards showing no respite.

The Minor Team Award went to joint winners St Mary’s High School Golf Team and Clann Eireann Handball Team.

The golfers won both the Ulster Schools Trophy and All Ireland Junior Cup with Captain Niamh Ward recording the lowest score of all competitors in both competitions.

The Clann Eireann Handball team of Niamh Coleman and Aiobhinn Henderson also won both Ulster and All Ireland titles during the 40x20 Handball season.

The girls from Lurgan College were the proud recipients of the Junior Team Award which recognised their dominance of hockey last season as they won the Mid-Ulster League and Cup double, Ulster Senior Schools Cup and All Ireland Kate Russell Cup.

The sport of Volleyball was awarded the Mary Canniffe Award – a special sporting award in recognition of its strong tradition over the past number of years in the Craigavon area.

In 2010/2011 the area had no fewer than four females and five males gaining international honours at various tournaments. At schools level Craigavon’s dominance in Volleyball was evident as boys’ teams from Portadown College, Craigavon Senior High School and Lismore Comprehensive made a clean sweep of all the trophies available at both U16 an U18 level.

The awards evening began with the presentation of the Junior Sports Bursaries to 14 of the Borough’s up and coming sports people who have the ability and potential to compete successfully at the highest level in their sport.