A night when Kerry's sporting stars dazzled

Kerry sports star awards gala banquet

Kerry Sports Stars Supreme Winner Oisín Murphy
Kerry Sports Stars Supreme Winner Oisín Murphy

Stephen Fernane

It's a night when Kerry's sports stars, both established and up-and-coming, press the pause button and get to enjoy a well-deserved evening with friends and families at The Gleneagle Hotel for the annual Kerry Sport Star Awards.

These awards recognise the immense contribution made to sport in the county by men and women and the burgeoning juvenile ranks across all sporting disciplines. It's very much a glamorous occasion in which the crème de la crème of Kerry sport get to reflect on their achievements by receiving an reward and enjoying sporting footage on the big screen before a packed audience.

A high-class field of participants encapsulating the best in local, international, senior, special category, unsung heroes and a hugely popular juvenile category took to the stage to accept their awards from event organiser and MC for the evening, Ken O'Day.

"We're extremely pleased with how the event went, and it was a pleasure to host so many talented and hardworking sports people, who really are a credit to their respective sports, their families and their county," Ken said.

High achievers from local level right through to European and world standard were present on the night, and one of the event's key strengths is that it recognises sports that do not normally get an opportunity to bask in the limelight of public attention: athletes that work hard and contribute just as much in their chosen sport.

The Hall of Fame Award went to rugby legend and Currow native Mick Galwey. Mick received a standing ovation from the 440-strong crowd, and you could hear a pin drop when he spoke of his appreciation and talked about some of the highlights in his illustrious career.

It was a memorable weekend on all fronts for 2018 five-in-row winning Kerry minor captain and Kilcummin native Paul O'Shea. Paul won The Emerging Young Sports Person of the Year Award, sponsored by Portmagee Seafood. Dominick Lynch recieved the O'Day Perpetual Shield for his services to handball.

There was a strong family link with the recipient of The Supreme Sports Star Award, which went to Flat jockey Oisín Murphy. Oisín's uncle, Jim Culloty, won this award in the past for his exploits as a National Hunt jockey. It was a memorable 2018 for Oisín as he won his first classics in England and Ireland on the indomitable Roaring Lion. Oisín rode 198 winners last season and he flew back from Hong Kong, where he spent the winter riding winners to pick up his award. The Kerryman sports reporter Jason O'Connor picked up an award for his service to sport. Jason is a well-known GAA reporter covering every level of the game in the county.

"It really is a special occasion for everyone involved, and it's thanks to an excellent team of organisers that we're able to stage it," Ken added.

"Next year we will be looking for a major sponsor to come on board and help keep the awards as lively and good as they are. This year we've really noticed how the event has become a major fashion event displaying some very elegant style and fashion. The Gleneagle Hotel has also been great supporters of Kerry Sport Star Awards, and we thank them, and all our sponsors for their contribution."