Sunday 19 January 2020

Open win sees Lowry lift Irish Independent Sportstar award

Portrush hero joined by Ireland's women's hockey team on the Irish Independent sporting podium

2019 Open Champion Shane Lowry was named Sportstar of the Year. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
2019 Open Champion Shane Lowry was named Sportstar of the Year. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Eamonn Coghlan with his Hall of Fame trophy. Photos: Matt Browne/Sportsfile/David Conachy
Champions: The Irish women’s hockey team receive the award for Magic Moment
Gymnast Rhys McClenaghan with his girlfriend Charlotte Slater
Ian Begley

Ian Begley

Shane Lowry's victory at the Open Championship in Portrush has led him to being given the highest honour at the Irish Independent Sportstar Awards.

Ireland's biggest sports stars turned out at the annual prize-giving ceremony in Croke Park.

But no one could argue that 32-year-old Lowry wasn't the most worthy person to receive the Sportstar of the Year award.

Since he was crowned Open champion in July, Lowry has been enjoying the fruits of his success and has made no plans for slowing down any time soon.

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The Ireland women's hockey team, who will represent the country at Tokyo 2020, received the Magic Moment of the Year award for achieving their Olympic dream.

Goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran showed nerves of steel in Ireland's qualifier against Canada, and played a pivotal role in helping the team secure a 4-3 victory.

"I remember feeling that the pressure was on me during that game, but the trick was to stay as calm as possible and thankfully I was able to do that," she told the Irish Independent.

"To finally get the confirmation that we're going to Tokyo after four or five years of hard work was just fantastic.

"But it's not just about getting there for us. We're ready to put in the work to make something very special happen," she said.

The Co Antrim native added that while there is a growing appreciation of female sports there is still a lot more that can be done.

Talent

"The support and media coverage has definitely increased in recent years, but as a nation I definitely feel that we need to get behind women's sports, more," she said.

"Over the past couple of years we've proven that we have the talent so hopefully we can inspire some young people along the way."

Unsurprisingly, the Dublin footballers received Team of Year after their five-in-a-row heroics at Croke Park in September. After the dramatic All-Ireland replay against Kerry, Jim Gavin's former army are just as hungry to secure their sixth All-Ireland in succession next season.

Veteran GAA commentator Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh described the Dubs' success as "extraordinary".

"What they've achieved over the course of five years is incredible and a culmination of their hard work and passion," he said.

"Jim Gavin left them on an ultimate high and has to be credited for getting the team to extraordinary heights."

There was resounding applause when track legend Eamonn Coghlan was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Although the three-time Olympian and former world champion is well used to receiving awards, Mr Coghlan seemed lost for words as he accepted the honour.

Northern Ireland gymnast Rhys McClenaghan was also named Young Sportsperson of the Year just days after he received a similar honour at the RTÉ Sport Awards.

The 20-year-old created history earlier this year as he became the first Irish gymnast to win a medal at the World Championships, claiming bronze in the pommel horse.

Irish Independent

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