Saturday 18 November 2017

Off The Ball: Pool of Irish sporting talent deserves annual awards splash

Pádraig Harrington lifted a trophy at the annual Irish Youth Foundation Excellence in Sports Awards
Pádraig Harrington lifted a trophy at the annual Irish Youth Foundation Excellence in Sports Awards

Ger Gilroy

The annual Irish Youth Foundation Excellence in Sports Awards were on this week in the Doubletree by Hilton in Dublin.

They don't generate the hype or controversy over selection that other awards ceremonies do but that's their success. Everyone shows up knowing that an award will be given to the people who've done well, there won't be a single award hotly contested rather there'll be an award for anyone who deserves it.

It's a subtle difference and seems intuitively against the principles of cut-throat sport but then awards aren't sport, are they? They're a chance to say well done.

So this week there were awards for David O'Leary representing the Italia 90 team, Christy O'Connor Jnr for that two-iron, Shane Lowry for the WGC and being Shane Lowry, Pádraig Harrington (right) for comeback of the year, Michael Conlan for being brilliant and being Michael Conlan, Tony McCoy for being a genius and so on. Money was raised, a good time was had by all. It's a brilliant model, it works really well.

A different beast altogether takes place this afternoon at The Intercontinental with the Philips Sports Manager of the Year awards, one of the longest running and best awards on the circuit. I am on the judging panel for the awards and have been for the last couple of years. It's a difficult job.

Each year several candidates present themselves and you have to somehow compare different fields, different talent pools, different handicaps, all the while trending towards some kind of decision that this year I hold one manager/coach/trainer's achievements to be more valuable somehow.

And it matters because there is a talent pool of progressive, brilliant people working in sport in Ireland and renewing the identity of their sports each year. Sometimes those people get to stand in the room and answer questions about their prowess, more often than not they don't pick up an award. When they do though, it's well deserved. As a judge you can't always have your manager win but the process works.

Two models and loads to recommend both.


Irish Independent

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