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Who was Ireland's Young Sportstar of the year in 2020?

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Dara O’Shea has already proven he has the technical attributes to operate at Premier League and international level. Photo: Sportsfile

Dara O’Shea has already proven he has the technical attributes to operate at Premier League and international level. Photo: Sportsfile

Dara O’Shea has already proven he has the technical attributes to operate at Premier League and international level. Photo: Sportsfile

Here are the nominees for the Irish Independent Young Sportstar of the Year award.

YOUNG SPORTSTAR OF THE YEAR

DARA O’SHEA
If the measure of a good year for a rising sportstar is to be able to point to landmarks that reflect their progress, then the Dubliner ticks all of the boxes. The defender made his first Championship start for West Brom, quickly became a fixture in a side that won promotion and finished his year as a Premier League regular and a full Ireland senior international. The curve was upward from start to finish.

SAOIRSE NOONAN

To excel in one sport at elite level takes a special talent; do to so at two is rare, but that's just what Saoirse Noonan did in 2020. Not content, to help Cork reach the Ladies All-Ireland football championship final - scoring 1-2 in victory over Kery in the process, Saoirse also inspired the Leesiders' soccer team to Women's FAI Cup final. And, just for good measure, she won her first call-up to Ireland's senior squad, having already been capped at underage level.

JOEY SHERIDAN
Joey Sheridan had never ridden outside of Ireland before partnering Princess Zoe in the Prix du Cadran on Arc weekend at Longchamp. It was all the more amazing, then, that the Tipperary rider exhibited the coolness of a seasoned professional to swoop late and land Group One glory. Sheridan has already earned comparisons with the great Frankie Dettori and his meteoric rise continued during a sensational season.

OISIN MULLIN

But for Covid, Oisin Mullin could well have been planning a new career in the AFL but a world in chaos instead kept him at home and he thrived in his first season as an attack-minded corner-back as Mayo reached yet another All-Ireland final with Dublin. When he wasn't on the front foot, he was guarding some of the best forwards in the game and did both in hugely impressive fashion.

BEIBHINN PARSONS

Ireland's women's rugby team didn't get many chances to strut their stuff in 2020, but Leaving Certificate student Beibhinn Parsons shone bright when they did get an opportunity to play. During the curtailed Six Nations campaign, the teenage winger from Ballinasloe showed incredible pace to score three tries in as many games in the spring and was impressive in the team's one post-lockdown game against Italy. Now in UCD, she is a key member of Adam Griggs' team as they hope to qualify for this year's World Cup in New Zealand.

KEANE BARRY
While the pace of life has slowed for many over the past year, it’s been a whirlwind for Co Meath teenager Keane Barry since winning the world junior darts championship at the tail end of 2019.After prevailing 5-3 in the final at the iconic Alexandra Palace, Barry (18) has since shared the oche with the game’s best for back-to-back senior world championships and secured a PDC tour card for next season.

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