The 2018 Westmeath Examiner Sports Awards take place in the Mullingar Park Hotel on Friday February 1. Every year, we give our readers the chance to nominate their top sporting hero of the year. It’s as simple as choosing from the 16 award winners listed and following the instructions below. VOTING LINES OPEN ON FRIDAY JANUARY 18 AT NOON AND CLOSE ON SATURDAY JANUARY 26 AT MIDNIGHT. Please do not vote outside these hours as your vote will not be counted and you may incur the charge. The sports star with the most votes by the time our phone line closes will win the coveted Readers’ Choice Award at our gala awards ceremony on February 1. Multiple votes are accepted - so get voting! Please note, this category is purely a readers’ choice and will not necessarily be the overall Sports Person of the Year, as this will be chosen by our judging panel
Multyfarnham GAA (Gaelic football)
The extended 2017 season was, without a shadow of a doubt, the greatest in the history of Multyfarnham GAA Club. In October, the club romped to its first Westmeath junior football championship in over six decades, before embarking on a memorable run to a Leinster club junior football title. Victory over Offaly’s Erin Rovers in that Leinster decider earned them a place in the All-Ireland club JFC semi-finals. It also landed them the Westmeath Examiner Sports Star Award for November 2017, and the club went on to win last year’s Readers’ Choice Award.
In January, the Derravaraghsiders were at it again, putting aside the Christmas cobwebs by recording a magnificent 1-14 to 2-9 win over Mayo junior champions Lahardane McHales, coached by former Mayo senior football manager John Maughan. Five points from Daniel Loughrey and a goal from Emmet Feerick saw the Maroons into an historic All-Ireland club JFC final. Although Multy lost that decider to Cork’s Knocknagree in Croke Park, January’s semi-final win created a buzz that hadn’t been in Multy for decades.
To Vote for Multyfarnham GAA (Gaelic football) - Phone 1516 306 001 between Fri Jan 18 Noon - Sat Jan 26 Midnight Only
Sheila McGrath (camogie)
2018 was a tremendous year for St Munna’s starlet Sheila McGrath. She played in an All-Ireland colleges camogie final, won a Leinster intermediate camogie medal with Westmeath, propelled the Lake County to a Division 2 league final and won the coveted ‘Player of the League’ award, and played in an All-Ireland minor ‘B’ final.
Sheila wins our February award primarily for her performance in the Loreto College, Mullingar colours in the All-Ireland colleges ‘C’ camogie semi-final. A mainstay of the school’s successful route through Leinster, McGrath was magnificent in the semi-final against Coláiste Bhaile Chláir, Claregalway in Mullingar on February 10, scoring 3-8.
That same month, she was at the forefront of Westmeath’s early successes in Division 2 of the National Camogie League, putting herself on track to winning that ‘Player of the League’ award.
To Vote for Sheila McGrath (camogie) - Phone 1516 306 002 between Fri Jan 18 Noon - Sat Jan 26 Midnight Only
Coláiste Mhuire, Mullingar (Gaelic football)
March saw Mullingar’s greatest colleges’ football achievement since St Mary’s CBS, Mullingar claimed the Leinster Colleges’ SFC title 35 years ago, when the same school – now known as Coláiste Mhuire – annexed an All-Ireland Colleges’ Junior ‘A’ football title.
The Mullingar school, co-captained by Enda Gaffney and Trevor Keena and jointly managed by Brian Murtagh, Sarah Guilfoyle and Mattie Dempsey, beat famed Kerry football nursery St Brendan’s College, Killarney 1-12 to 0-13 in the final in Bansha, Co. Tipperary.
A first half goal from Shane Williams gave Coláiste Mhuire the advantage at half time, and they held on doggedly in the second half, with a defence brilliantly marshalled by Conor Gibney and man of the match, Charlie Drumm. Earlier in the month, St Mary’s saw off Dublin school Coláiste Eoin in the Leinster final.
To Vote for Coláiste Mhuire, Mullingar (Gaelic football) - Phone 1516 306 005 between Fri Jan 18 Noon - Sat Jan 26 Midnight Only
Lucy McCartan (soccer)
In March, Mullingar’s Lucy McCartan was among the major winners at the 3 FAI International Awards at RTÉ Studios in Donnybrook, when the former Loreto College, Mullingar student was crowned Ireland’s U19 Women’s International Player of the Year.
Lucy, studying at UCD and playing her club football for Peamount United (as well as senior ladies’ GAA for Westmeath and St Loman’s, Mullingar), starred at right back for Ireland’s U19 women during their European exploits in 2017, earning her this most prestigious of awards. A couple of weeks later, McCartan got on the scoresheet for Dave Connell’s U19 charges, as they defeated Ukraine in their second UEFA Women’s U19 football championship élite round qualifier.
To Vote for Lucy McCartan (soccer) - Phone 1516 306 004 between Fri Jan 18 Noon - Sat Jan 26 Midnight Only
Adam Smith (golf)
Sixteen-year-old Mullingar Golf Club prospect Adam Smith’s fledgling career took another step up in March, when the Mullingar youngster was selected to represent Ireland’s U18 boys team in the Cardigan Cup in Wales on March 24 and 25.
Young Adam’s selection was richly deserved; the previous August, he had been named Ireland’s best U16 golfer. He qualified for internationalselection by shooting a one under par in stroke play in his first trial at Carton House, Maynooth. He followed this up with an impressive 5 under at Portmarnock in matchplay, to take the match on the 17th.
Adam went on to play excellent golf in Wales, but the Irish U18 team were unlucky to lose out 12.5 to 7.5 to their Welsh opponents.
To Vote for Adam Smith (golf) - Phone 1516 306 003 between Fri Jan 18 Noon - Sat Jan 26 Midnight Only
Olympic Boxing Club, Mullingar (boxing)
April was a month to remember for the still-fledgling Olympic Boxing Club, Mullingar. A week after being confirmed as the best boxing club in Leinster, the club scaled new heights when it left the All-Ireland Boy 1, 2 and 3 Championships in the National Stadium with eight gold medals.
Boy 1 qualifiers Alfie Jordan (27kg), Ryan Jenkins (37kg), Bernie Stokes (54kg), Boy 2 entrants Patsy Joyce (29kg), Tadhg Sheridan (31kg) and David Geoghegan (50kg), and Boy 3 fighters Michael Nugent (38.5kg) and Jason Nevin (43kg) all claimed gold medals. Jason Joyce (Boy 3, 33kg) won silver, while Brian Daly (Boy 1, 31kg) also competed.
The club’s achievements in April were hugely impressive, when one considers that Olympic has only been on the go for four years.
To Vote for Olympic Boxing Club, Mullingar (boxing) - Phone 1516 306 007 between Fri Jan 18 Noon - Sat Jan 26 Midnight Only
Mullingar RFC U18 girls (rugby)
Mullingar Rugby Club’s growing reputation as a top nursery for women’s rugby was enhanced in April, when the club’s U18 girls recorded a resounding 27-0 win over Wicklow in the U18 Leinster Cup final at Balreask Old, Navan.
Méadbh Scally and Ciara Faulkner – now plying their trade with Leinster at U18 level, along with teammate Ava Jenkins – both helped themselves to a brace of tries, as the girls in scarlet and dove grey taught their opponents a lesson in rugby.
The Ciara Moughty-captained side became the first Mullingar team to lift the coveted U18 trophy – an outstanding result and a just reward for a talented and hardworking squad.
To Vote for Mullingar Rugby Club U18 girls (rugby) - Phone 1516 306 006 between Fri Jan 18 Noon - Sat Jan 26 Midnight Only
The Westmeath intermediate camogie team (camogie)
Last year’s All-Ireland premier junior camogie champions and Westmeath Examiner Sports Stars of the Year upped the ante in 2018. Having battled their way through to a league final against eventual All-Ireland intermediate champions Cork, Johnny Greville’s charges were unlucky not to reach the top flight of the National Camogie League for 2019.
However, they will dine at the top table of camogie in Leinster next year, having handsomely beaten Dublin’s second string in the Leinster intermediate camogie final last May.
En route to the final, Westmeath saw off Kilkenny, with Pamela Greville firing 1-8 in Clonkill in a memorable four-point victory. And in the final at St Brendan’s Park, Birr in late May, goals from Sheila McGrath and captain Mairéad McCormack saw the Lake County record a 14-point win in the final against Dublin.
Although the All-Ireland series ended in defeat, Westmeath camogie has never been in ruder health than it is going in 2019.
To Vote for The Westmeath Intermediate Camogie Team (camogie) - Phone 1516 306 008 between Fri Jan 18 Noon - Sat Jan 26 Midnight Only
Derek McGee (motorcycling)
Mullingar motorcyclist Derek McGee will look back on 2018 as perhaps the best year of his career to date, and it all began in earnest in early June, when he was one of the surprise packages at this year’s Isle of Man TT.
Knockdrin man McGee claimed a fantastic first podium finish at the Isle of Man TT, claiming second place in the Bennetts Lightweight TT.
Recording a third fastest time in qualifying on his KMR Kawasaki (owned by Ryan Farquhar), McGee traded places at the top of the timesheet with Michael Dunlop, a rider with 18 TT victories to his name. Breaking the lap record from a standing start to the race proper, he led on the first lap, and went even faster on lap two, but just failed to catch Dunlop at the end.
Despite having won and taken podium finishes at the Ulster Grand Prix, McGee puts this TT result down as one of the highlights of his career.
Of course, it was only the start of the ‘Mullingar Missile’s’ success in 2018; he went on to record five-timers at Faugheen and Enniskillen, a four-timer at Walderstown, and battled back from injury to win the championship at the East Coast Festival in September.
To Vote for Derek McGee (motorcycling) - Phone 1516 306 009 between Fri Jan 18 Noon - Sat Jan 26 Midnight Only
Fintan Bray (swimming)
July saw Delvin man Fintan Bray represent Ireland at the World Down Syndrome Swimming Championships in Nova Scotia, Canada, where he picked up a bronze medal.
Fintan, who has travelled to Italy, France and England to compete in European championships, realised his dream of representing his country on the world stage, and performed brilliantly to finish among the medals.
To Vote for Fintan Bray (swimming) - Phone 1516 306 010 between Fri Jan 18 Noon - Sat Jan 26 Midnight Only
AUGUST (joint winner)
Robbie McCarthy Snr (handball)
A long career in handball reached new heights on August, when Robbie McCarthy Snr – a past Westmeath Examiner Sports Awards Hall of Fame inductee – won a world Golden Masters One Wall handball title at the World Handball Championships in Minnesota, USA. McCarthy saw off fellow Irishman George Miller in the final.
To Vote for Robbie McCarthy Snr (handball) - Phone 1516 306 011 between Fri Jan 18 Noon - Sat Jan 26 Midnight Only
AUGUST (joint winner)
Fergal Hingerty (mountaineering)
Mullingar resident and Dublin native Fergal Hingerty, an avid hillwalker, has moved into mountaineering during the last two years, and at the end of August, trudged through the snow to reach the summit of Europe’s highest mountain, Mount Elbrus.
The achievement was all the more special in light of the fact that it came about as the culmination of a long road to recovery from a debilitating back injury.
To Vote for Fergal Hingerty (mountaineering) - Phone 1516 306 016 between Fri Jan 18 Noon - Sat Jan 26 Midnight Only
Eileen Kenny (athletics)
September put the cherry on top of a wonderful year in long-distance running for Mullingar Harriers master Eileen Kenny. After winning an All-Ireland cross country title in her masters category earlier in the year, Eileen went to Spain for the World Masters T&F Championships in Málaga, Spain in September.
After finishing fourth in the 8k cross country, she bounced back from a nasty fall during the 10k road race and showed great resolve to finish with her first World Masters medal, a bronze.
To Vote for Eileen Kenny (athletics) - Phone 1516 306 012 between Fri Jan 18 Noon - Sat Jan 26 Midnight Only
Jordan Dempsey (motorsport)
The 2018 driving year began in May for Jordan Dempsey with a disappointing start to his participation in the US F4, where he ran into mechanical problems.
After switching to the China F4, he burst onto the scene with a double podium finish in June, before recording a series of wins which left him with a 20-point championship lead going into the home straight. He clinched the China F4 title in October, finishing in style at Ningbo.
One of Ireland’s brightest young motorsport talents, Dempsey was later awarded Motorsport Ireland’s Manley Memorial Trophy for International Driver of the Year.
To Vote for Jordan Dempsey (motorsport) - Phone 1516 306 013 between Fri Jan 18 Noon - Sat Jan 26 Midnight Only
Jamie Battle (athletics)
At the 2017 AAI Senior, Juvenile and Even Ages Cross Country Finals, illness robbed Mullingar Harriers’ Jamie Battle of European selection. But he made up for it at the same event in November 2018, showing his true class and running a superb race to finish third in the junior men’s 6,000m race.
On foot of this, he was rewarded with automatic selection for the Irish junior team to compete at the European cross country in the Netherlands. There, he put on a brilliant European debut to finish just outside the top 20, helping Ireland to fifth place in the team standings.
To Vote for Jamie Battle (athletics) - Phone 1516 306 014 between Fri Jan 18 Noon - Sat Jan 26 Midnight Only
Conor O’Brien (rugby)
Young Mullingar man Conor O’Brien has been to the fore in Leo Cullen’s Leinster side, as they push for Guinness PRO14 rugby honours heading into 2019.
O’Brien, starting at centre in late November, scored a try as the province saw off Ospreys. In December, the Mullingar man played a key role as the men in blue demolished Dragons, and later in the month, O’Brien crossed the tryline first as Leinster prevailed 33-29 against Connacht.
Although the year ended with defeat against Munster, Leinster are well placed going into the New Year, and O’Brien has played no small role in their fortunes so far.
A star performance against Ulster in January earned Conor a place on Leinster’s European squad for their Champions Cup clash with Toulouse, where he made his debut. The best is yet to come.
To Vote for Conor O’Brien (rugby) - Phone 1516 306 015 between Fri Jan 18 Noon - Sat Jan 26 Midnight Only
Terms & Conditions:
Voting lines for Westmeath Examiner Sports Awards open on Friday January 18 at Noon and close midnight on Saturday January 26. Votes cast outside these hours will NOT be counted but may incur a charge. Entrants must be over 18. 1516 calls cost €1.52 per call. BDC Helpline: 0818 286600.