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Stars of the future



Two of Leinster's biggest rugby stars stepped out to celebrate the outstanding achievements of Dublin's brightest young sports talents at the annual Herald School Sports Awards.

Statuesque team-mates Rocky Elsom and CJ van der Linde were on hand to present the awards to the most talented secondary school sports heroes of the year at the Croke Park gala.

Praising the awards ceremony, Rocky said: "Showing recognition is really important and it's great for the parents and teachers as well as the students."

Crediting his school years for developing his love of rugby, he added: "I didn't play rugby until I got to school.

"The biggest thing I got out of it was the opportunity to work really hard with a focused team."

Following a lavish three-course lunch, the down-to-earth duo were particularly happy to present the top award to future Leinster hopeful Brendan Macken.

Tipped as one of this country's key rugby stars of the near future, second centre player Brendan was awarded the prestigious title of Sports Star of the Year.

The 17-year-old Leaving Cert student from Dalkey, who recently became a member of the Leinster Academy, said he was "delighted" to receive the award from his rugby idols.

Speaking to the Herald, the Blackrock College student said: "I started playing when I was three or four. I'd love to play for Ireland one day and it's great to get this award as a pat on the back to show I'm heading in the right direction."


Paying tribute to his fellow players, Brendan said the award was a boost for the entire team: "Most of us are boarders and we're like a family really."

Brendan's father Frank, who is also Blackrock College's rugby coach, said: "I'm delighted for him because he worked really hard."

Talented soccer player Craig Palmer, from Tallaght, won the award for Sports Star of the Future. The 15-year-old, who plays for Ireland International under 15s, said: "I'm very proud to get this award. I've been playing football since I was about seven.

"It's my dream to play for Manchester United and Ireland one day," said the student from Tallaght Community School.

Congratulating the winners at the ceremony, Herald Editor Stephen Rae said: "All of you are here today purely on merit.

"You are the best in your individual and team codes. It's not just me saying that but the record speaks for itself."

The award for Team of the Year went to the senior Gaelic football team at St Benildus College in Kilmacud and was picked up by Eamon Cosgrove.

He said: "2009 will go down in Benildus history as a memorable year as it witnessed the college capture its first ever Dublin Colleges' Senior Gaelic Football A title".

Science teacher Mandy Holloway, from St Andrew's College in Blackrock, received the award for Coach of the Year after leading the girl's hockey team to victory in the Leinster Senior Cup Final.

Ms Holloway's award was accepted on her behalf by student Laura Pinder (15), from Blackrock, who was also one of 23 weekly award winners to receive trophies.

St Dominic's school in Cabra collected the award for School of the Year, which was collected by its camogie coach Seaghan Kearney.

"We're absolutely delighted for the school and for the girls because it's a real testament to all the hard work that goes into the school," he said.

The awards have a solid track record for recognising talented young stars to watch and past winners include Leinster rugby player Luke Fitzgerald and Dublin hurling ace David Tracey.