Sportstar of the Year award caps knockout year for Katie Taylor
Published 07/01/2013 | 05:00
IT'S not very often that a champion boxer and a champion jockey are in the same room, but when it does happen, it happens in style.
The 2012 Irish Independent Sportstar of the Year awards were presented at a gala lunch in The Westbury Hotel on Saturday and personalities from a range of sports gathered to celebrate the glittering successes of Katie Taylor and Joseph O'Brien.
Both winners excelled throughout 2012, and each took home a prestigious accolade to mark a year of definitive highs.
Leading the way was Olympic gold medallist Taylor (26), who took time off her from training schedule to attend the occasion with her family.
The Bray boxer spoke of the pride she felt in being named Irish Independent Sportstar of the Year in association with The Croke Park Hotel after being presented with her award by Irish Independent editor Stephen Rae.
Taylor said learning to cope with huge public interest required some adjustment, but added that she wanted to enjoy it while her career in the ring lasts.
"It's a privilege. I complain about it, having to go here and there, but it's such an honour to be invited to events like this at the end of the day," she said.
While she enjoyed some time off over Christmas, the world champion was delighted to return to a strict routine as she prepares to take to the ring in front of 2,000 people at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre on February 24 in her first fight since the London games.
"I ate all around me over Christmas and it was brilliant, but now I'm just busy getting ready for the fight and it's great to get back into training properly again."
Champion jockey Joseph O'Brien picked up the Padraig Power Young Sports Star of the Year award for a second consecutive year.
The 19-year-old took time out from his duties at Ballydoyle to accept the award and was accompanied by his father, trainer Aidan O'Brien.
After riding his first winner, Johann Zoffany, at Leopardstown in 2009, O'Brien recently became the youngest rider to be crowned champion jockey in Ireland for over 60 years.
He said: "I'm very lucky to be around some of the best horses in the world. You can always dream, but you never really think that things like this can happen. It's all been a dream come true."
The legendary Jimmy Magee was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He was presented with his award by Vincent Crowley, CEO of Independent News and Media, and Pat King, CEO of The Doyle Collection.
Magee (77) was cheered as he made his way to the stage to accept the award and be interviewed by Sky Sports News presenter and Irish Independent columnist Rachel Wyse.
"When you think of all the stellar names to come before me, it's just a fantastic lineup. I will get value out of being in a Hall of Fame though. I'll really enjoy it."
The veteran commentator in athletics, football, boxing and soccer, with coverage of 10 Olympic Games under his belt, declared that he still has "at least 15 years" left in him at the microphone.
Among the guests were other Hall of Fame members Dr Ronnie Delany, Maeve Kyle, Jack Kyle, Micheal O Muircheartaigh and Sean Boylan, as well as Paralymics gold medal winner Darragh McDonald, Kilkenny hurler Eoin Larkin, boxing coach Billy Walsh, former Ireland soccer managers Brian Kerr and Eoin Hand and Kerry football legend Eoin Liston, who enjoyed some lively banter with former Dublin foes Paddy Cullen and Jimmy Keaveney.