ALL roads lead to Hotel Westport on Friday night for the county’s athletics fraternity as the annual Mayo News sponsored Mayo Athletic Awards take place.
The awards have now become firmly established in the county’s sporting calendar with hundreds of athletes, families and friends flocking to the event.
“We’re delighted to be associated with the Mayo Athletics awards again this year,” said John Feerick, General Manager of The Mayo News.
“This is our seventh year as title sponsors of the event and I think that is a fair reflection of our commitment to sport, and to athletics in particular, in Mayo.
“We had a fantastic night in Ballina last year and I have no doubt that Friday’s ceremony will be every bit as successful.
“Mayo athletics continues to go from strength to strength and that is due to the huge amount of work being invested by athletes, their clubs, their coaches and their families.
“We at The Mayo News are delighted to play our part in this continued development and are fully committed to giving athletics the coverage it deserves in the year ahead.”
There is a star-studded list of nominees in contention for the coveted Mayo News Athlete of the Year award with Aisling Costello, Cian McManamon, Jenny Hughes, Liamonas Ruibys, Pamela Hughes, Sharon Heveran, Aoife Mulroy, Daniel Murray, Gerard Kelly and Breege Blehein-McHale all in contention for the honour.
This year’s Hall of Fame winner is Sheila Mangan who was instrumental in the formation and success of the St Deirbhle’s club in Belmullet.
Sheila was one of the founding members of the club in 1992 and practically ran the club on her own for ten years until she finished due to lack of parental interest. When the athletes were in the club some of the parents helped out but when the athletes left the parents left too.
Sheila took athletes from all over the Erris area the length and breath of the country to Mayo, Connacht and All-Ireland competitions. When they were going to competitions she travelled all over the area and collected the athletes from their different villages and brought them home again. When they were travelling to National Championships in Nenagh, Santry, Tullamore and Mosney they had to stay away for two nights on most occasions. On most of these journeys Sheila was the only adult with a large number of children.
Even though it must have been lonely for her she always had a smile on her face and gave great encouragement to the children. The athletes only paid a nominal membership fee and again Sheila was the person who raised most of the money to keep the club running from year to year.
Ron Burnside, Eoin Lavelle and Michael Gibbons trained the athletes and because they had no athletic club grounds, the training was done on the airstrip in Carne for a short time. Then the training moved to Mangan’s field or the sandy banks.
Sheila’s two eldest sons trained themselves every evening and anyone who wished to avail of the training came along. When they decided to do the high jump they got a grant from Leader and bought a high jump, hurdles and other sporting equipment.
The first year they were in existence they travelled to Kilkenny with two teams, U-11 and U-12 boys, for the All-Ireland team events. There was great jubilation when the U-12 team of Gerard Lavelle (RIP), Paul Wilson, Colm Devers, Colm Mangan, John Barrett and Stephen Togher took home silver medals. Colm Mangan, Sheila’s son, won a national title in the U-14 800m. He also won many national medals in the shot and discus.
Rachel Barrett from Geesala also won a medal in the U-16 1500m in Tullamore in 1996. Many other athletes from the Erris area competed in almost every athletic discipline at national level. Finally, in 2002, Sheila decided to call it a day. She was one of those people who gave of her time voluntarily and all for the good of the children.
THIRTEEN awards will be presented on the night with athletes in attendance from Ballina to Border Ramblers.
“I’m really looking forward to the night,” said Ernie Deacy, Chairman of the Mayo Athletics Board. “It’s been another fantastic season for athletics in the county and it’s only fitting that we honour the local, national and international achievements of Mayo athletes.
“These awards have taken on huge significance over the last six years and we are hugely grateful to The Mayo News for their loyalty and continued support.”
Mayo News Athletic Awards Nominations
Juvenile Female T&F Athlete of the Year.
Jenny Hughes, Louise Carroll, Katie Hyland, Deena Sadik, Maria Harrington, Clara Harrington, Pamela Hughes (Westport); Sally Maughan, Rebecca Conway (Castlebar), U14 Girls relay team (Castlebar); Hayley Pye, Fionnuala Mulroy, Aisling Forkan (Swinford); Emily Burns, Aisling O’Donnell (Ballina); Aisling Costello, Emma Moran, Sharon Kilduff (Claremorris).
Juvenile Male T&F Athlete of the Year.
Liamonas Ruibys, Tony Sadik, Cian McManamon, Noel Rice (Westport): Gerard Kelly (Castlebar); U13 Relay team; Aaron McLoughlin (Swinford); Daniel Murray (Ballina); Michael Moran, Michael Owen Kilduff, Sean Gill, Ian Durkan (Claremorris); David Kennedy (Border Ramblers).
Juvenile Female Cross Country Athlete of the Year.
Aoife Mulroy, U-11 girls team, U-12 girls team (Swinford); U-14 inter-counties team.
Juvenile Male Cross Country Athlete of the Year. Aaron McLoughlin (Swinford); Daniel Murray, Ciaran Treacy, Michael Murray (Ballina); U-13 inter-counties team.
Junior Athlete of the Year. Pamela Hughes, Noel Rice (Westport).
Senior Athlete of the Year. Sharon Heveran, Pamela Hughes (Westport).
Masters Athlete of the Year. Ernie Caffrey (Ballina); Breege Blehein-McHale, Tom Hunt (Mayo A/C), Patrick Moran (Border Ramblers).
Overall Athletic Club of the Year. Border Ramblers, Swinford, Ballina, Castlebar, Claremorris, Westport, Mayo AC
Overall Mayo Athlete of the Year 2006. Aisling Costello, Cian McManamon, Jenny Hughes, Liamonas Ruibys, Pamela Hughes, Sharon Heveran, Aoife Mulroy, Daniel Murray, Gerard Kelly, Breege Blehein-McHale.