THE search is on for the Fingal Independent / Clarion Hotel Dublin Airport Sport Star of the Year for 2012. Below are the monthly winners so far who will be in contention for the overall prize at the annual gala awards ceremony at the splendid Clarion Hotel Dublin Airport next January.
A superb 2011 season saw promising young golfer Caolan Kennedy scoop the overall title last year, while recent Olympic torch bearer, Gary O'Brien won the Young Sport Star of the Year title for his Special Olympics heroics in Greece. Competition for the 2012 awards promises to be just as hot if the list of monthly winners below is anything to by. Each month we will select a new Sport Star to join the list of contenders below and four wild card entries will be selected at the end of the year to make up 16 grand finalists, all of whom will be hoping to follow in Caolan and Gary's footsteps.
FORCING your way into an All-Ireland winning team is no easy task, but St Sylvester's sharp-shooter, Micheal McCarthy did just that in January, making a big impression for Dublin in the O'Byrne Cup. With a few of Pat Gilroy's big names enjoying an extended off-season, McCarthy took his chance in style, racking up 0-9 in just two games against Carlow and UCD before injury and a club league semi-final ruled him out of the semi-final date with Kildare.
They might not have got to contest the decider against Monaghan, but Fingal hurlers made a huge breakthrough in March by reaching the National Hurling Legaue Division 3A final. Willie Bourke's men made a statement of intent by winning the O'Byrne Shield in January and they carried that form into the league with wins over Louth, Tyrone, Sligo and Donegal. Full forward Peter Daly was one of many stars of the campaign, bagging three crucial goals and showing up consistently in every game.
Rising Naomh Mearnog star, Kevin O'Brien captained Dublin to a swashbuskling All-Ireland U-21 title success in May before breaking into Pat Gilroy's senior panel. Lining out at full back they DIT student anchored the Sky Blues impressive march through Leinster, culminating in a convincing victory over Louth in the final in Navan. Jim Gavin's men then beat Cork and Roscommon in the semi-final as Kevin lifted the Clarke Cup for only the third time in Dublin's history.
SKERRIES' promotion back to rugby's All-Ireland League has been one of the big Fingal sporting stories of the year, and they achieved their goal with a lot of help from young winger Kevin McGrath. The 19year-old, in his first full season with the senior team, was simply a revelation, his great pace and strength ensuring that he finished the season as the club's top try scorer. It was in the crucial round robin series against the other provincial winners that Kevin really came of age, scoring in each of the three matches.
YOUNG Chloe Gray made a bit of local boxing history when she became the first girl from the Bracken Club in Balbriggan to become an All-Ireland champion in April. The then 13-year-old only entered the ring for the first time a few months previously but has quickly emerged as a hot prospect in the sport. The granddaughter of well-known former Balbriggan publican The Edger Gray, Chloe defeated Rachel Flavin from St Brigid's in Kildare in the final on a commanding 17-11 scoreline.
Skerries rider Andy Farrell had a great start to the Irish Road Race season taking wins in the first two races at Cookstown and Tandragee. In June he continued his good form again taking a win at the Mid Antrim 150, to build up a commanding lead in the Irish Championship. Despite a heavy crash at the Ulster Grand Prix in August, Andy returned to action at the Killalane Road Races, and continued his winning ways, taking the Irish Championship crown.