Borough’s stars shine at Mid & East Antrim Sports Awards

Boccia star Claire Taggart, who has been named the Sportsperson of the Year. Award sponsored by Stirling Trophies.

THE best of the borough’s sporting talent was celebrated at Thursday night’s Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Sports Awards.

The fifth annual glittering awards ceremony took place at Larne Leisure Centre where former Irish League footballer turned broadcaster Liam Beckett MBE performed the duties of MC.

Nominees from the sporting world, including coaches, teams and individuals, all battled it out in nine categories to clinch the trophies.

Northern Ireland Boccia Paralympian Claire Taggart was crowned Sportsperson of the Year and Sportsperson with a Disability, while Northern Ireland and Rangers hero Gareth McAuley was inducted into the Sporting Hall of Fame.

Larne native McAuley, who won 80 international caps during his sporting lifetime, began his career in the Irish League with Crusaders and spent his last season at Rangers in 2018-19.

Having made his debut in June 2005, McAuley’s finest moment in a Northern Ireland shirt came when he scored the first goal in a stunning 2-0 win over Ukraine at the Euro 2016 finals in France.

The full list of award winners is as follows:

Junior Sportsperson of the Year – Joshua Hill – Golf
School Sporting Performance – Ballymena Academy Cross Country Team
Sportsperson with a Disability – Claire Taggart – Boccia
Coach of the Year – Gary Marshall – Equestrian
Services to Sport – Ronnie McKeegan – Cycling
Sportsperson of the Year – Claire Taggart – Boccia
Team of the Year – Ballymena United FC
Community Participation Award – Ballymena Saturday Morning League
Hall of Fame – Gareth McAuley
This year two £500 bursaries from Balon Sportswear were also awarded to Anna O’Kane (GAA) and Niall Hynds (Rugby & GAA).

Mayor Cllr Maureen Morrow said: “I want to congratulate all the winners and finalists in the fifth annual Mid and East Antrim Sports Awards.

“The awards are a fantastic opportunity for Council to acknowledge and congratulate the success of our talented athletes, coaches and volunteers who deserve the recognition for all their hard work and ongoing dedication. I would also like to thank all of our sponsors who make this event possible.

“These winners will now act as role models for the future generations in our borough to get involved in many sports and who knows, may even become champions themselves.

“Building healthier communities is a key priority for Council and what better way to show off the calibre of talent we have here than by celebrating our unsung sporting heroes with these awards.

“Our GetMEActive leisure campaign continues to encourage more people into sport and we can’t wait to see the results and our future sporting stars breaking boundaries.”

The award sponsors were McCadden, Ryobi Aluminium, Pollock Lifts, Wilsons of Rathkenny, Larne Credit Union, Balon Sportswear, Sign Time and Stirling Trophies.

All the winners were joined by Mayor Maureen Morrow.


Northern Ireland international Gareth McAuley is inducted into the Hall of Fame. He is pictured with Mayor, Cllr Maureen Morrow.


Cyclist Ronnie McKeegan is presented with the Services to Sport title. Sponsor Sign Time.


Team of the Year title goes to Ballymena United. Sponsored by Balon Sportswear.


The Community Participation Award goes to Ballymena Saturday Morning League. Included are Davy King and Brian Montgomery. Award sponsored by Larne Credit Union.


This year, two special bursary awards were given to Anna O’Kane for GAA and Niall Hynds who plays GAA and Rugby by sponsor Balon Sportswear.


Accepting the award on behalf of Coach of the Year Gary Marshall for equestrian is Heather Knox with John Wilson Jnr of award sponsor Wilsons of Rathkenny.


The winner of the Sportsperson with a Disability is Claire Taggart for Boccia. Award sponsored by Pollock Lifts.


A Special Recognition Award for the borough’s three Irish League football clubs for their contribution to their communities – Ballymena United, Carrick Rangers and Larne. Included is Mayor Maureen Morrow and Council Chief Executive Anne Donaghy.


The winner of the Junior Sportsperson of the Year is golfer Joshua Hill.


The School Sporting Performance title goes to Ballymena Academy Cross Country Team. Award sponsor was Ryobi Aluminium Casting UK Ltd.




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