RTÉ Sport has announced a long-list of 26 nominees for the RTÉ Sport Awards 2019 Sportsperson of the Year – and three Irish boxers are in contention for the award.
The list will be whittled down on by December 8 and a shortlist will be revealed on RTÉ Radio 1’s Sunday Sport on 8 December.
The winner will be confirmed on the awards programme, which will be broadcast live on RTÉ One, Saturday, 14 December at 9.30pm.
The boxers in contention are undisputed lightweight and two=weight world champion Katie Taylor, European Championship gold medal winner Aoife O’Rourke and European Games gold medal winner Kurt Walker.
Describing why O’Rourke was nominated RTE explained,
“Aoife O’Rourke was crowned European Champion in Madrid as the Roscommon native defeated Poland’s Elzebieta Wojcik in the 75kg final. She becomes only the second Irish female fighter after Katie Taylor to claim a gold medal at the championships.”
Of Taylor’s success the panel said,
“The Bray boxer made history by unifying all four world lightweight titles with a hard-fought, narrow victory over Delfine Persoon at Madison Square Garden. With the victory, the 33-year-old added the WBC Lightweight title to her IBF, WBA and WBO belts. Taylor then moved up in weight to become Ireland’s third two-weight world champion, with a unanimous points victory over Christina Linardatou, adding the WBO Super Lightweight belt to her collection.”
And commenting on Walker’s year RTE said,
“Kurt Walker won gold at the European Games after beating Mykola Butsenko of Ukraine in the bantamweight final. The 24-year-old from Lisburn beat top seed Peter McGrail of Britain on a split decision in the semi-finals, before winning the final on a unanimous decision over Butsenko, who was the second seed.”
Barry McGuigan won the inaugural award back in 1985, the next boxer to pick it up was Michael Carruth in 1992, Katie Taylor won in 2012 and Michael Conlan was the last Irish boxer to win it having picked it up in 2015.
The other sports people nominated are:
- Sam Bennett – The Carrick-on-Suir road cyclist picked up 13 stage wins in 2019, including a double victory at the Vuelta a España, where he secured the third and 14th stages.
- Lydia Boylan – The Dubliner claimed Ireland’s first silver medal at the World Track Cycling Championship in five years.
- Jack Byrne – The Shamrock Rovers midfielder earned two caps for the Republic of Ireland, won the FAI Cup and was named ‘PFAI Player of the Year’.
- Seamus Callanan – Tipperary’s All-Ireland winning captain finished his summer with a scoring contribution of 8-18, scoring eight goals in eight games, including a goal and two points in their final win over Kilkenny.
- Stephen Cluxton – The 37-year-old captained his side to a fifth All-Ireland title in-a-row while continuing to re-define the goalkeeper position.
- Cathal Daniels – The Galwegian produced a magnificent performance at the Longines FEI Eventing European Championships in Germany to claim the individual bronze medal aboard Rioghan Rua.
- Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal – The tandem para-cyclists claimed time trial gold at the UCI Para-cycling World Championships, and silver in the women’s tandem road-race.
- Ellen Keane – The Dublin swimmer won bronze in the 100m breaststroke SB8 at the World Para-Swimming Championships.
- Sinead Goldrick – The six-time All-Star scored a crucial goal for Dublin in their All-Ireland final victory over Galway, as the Sky Blues claimed a famous three-in-a-row.
- Niamh Kilkenny – The Galway star collected the Camogie Association/WGPA Senior Players’ Player of the Year award following Player of the Match displays in both the All-Ireland semi-final and final, as the Tribeswomen claimed a third ever O’Duffy Cup with victory over Kilkenny.
- Shane Lowry – The Offaly native claimed his first major title in commanding fashion in the 148th Open at Royal Portrush. He also won his first tournament in three and a half years with victory in the Abu Dhabi Championship at the start of the year.
- Ciara Mageean – The 26-year-old Portaferry runner finished 10th in the 1500m final at the Athletics World Championships in Doha, becoming only the second Irishwoman in history to make the world 1500m final, after Sonia O’Sullivan in 1997. She also won bronze at the European Indoor Championships in Glasgow.
- Rhys McClenaghan – He became the first Irish gymnast to medal at the World Championships, after claiming a bronze medal in the pommel horse in Stuttgart, and qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games.
- Rory McIlroy – The 30-year-old won four titles during the season in one of his most consistent years to date. He was also named the PGA Tour ‘Player of the Year’ for a third time.
- Oisin Murphy – The flat jockey rode 166 winners to be crowned ‘British Flat Racing Champion Jockey’. The 24-year-old is the youngest competitor to win the title since a 23-year-old Ryan Moore in 2006.
- Donnacha O’Brien – Officially crowned ‘Irish Champion Flat Jockey’ for the second time, matching the feat of his older brother Joseph, who won back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013.
- Denise O’Sullivan – The Republic of Ireland star helped North Carolina Courage to the National Women’s Soccer League title in the USA for the second year running. She was also named the clubs ‘Most Valuable Player’ and ‘Women’s Senior International Player of the Year’.
- Sanita Puspure – The rower successfully retained her single sculls gold medal at the Rowing World Championships, as well as setting a new European record as she she took gold in the single sculls event at the European Championships.
- Jonathan Rea – The Antrim man secured a record fifth straight World Superbike title, surpassing Carl Fogarty’s tally of four World Superbike titles and equaling compatriot Joey Dunlop’s achievement of five consecutive Formula TT world titles.
- Davy Russell – Raced into the history books on board Tiger Roll, as he became the first horse since Red Rum to win back-to-back renewals of the Aintree Grand National.
- Jason Smyth – The Derry sprinter scorched his way to his eighth World Para-Athletics Championships gold medal, winning the 100m in the T13 class in Dubai in a championship record time of 10.54 seconds.
- Paul Townend – The Cork jockey won the title of ‘Irish Champion National Hunt Jockey’, having ridden 109 Irish winners in the campaign, including five Grade One victories. The most famous of which was the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Al Boum Photo.
- Nicole Turner – The 17-year-old Portarlington native showed incredible resolve to claim the bronze medal at the World Para-Swimming Championships in London.