IRISH ATHLETICS legend Ronnie Delaney has been confirmed as the special guest for the 2015 Donegal Sports Star Awards.
Delaney was a gold medallist in the 1500 metres at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne and the image of Delaney crossing the line remains one of the most iconic in the history of Irish sport.
Until 1992, when Michael Carruth won a boxing gold in Barcelona, Delaney was Ireland’s only Olympic gold medallist.
The 80-year-old from Arklow in County Wicklow will be the special guest at the Donegal Sports Star Awards in what is a special year for the awards, which celebrate a big birthday this year.
It is 40 years since the inception of the awards and Delaney was the special guest at the first function at the Milford Inn.
The news was confirmed this evening by Neil Martin, the Donegal Sports Star Awards committee chairman, at the official launch of the awards at the Mount Errigal Hotel.
The awards take place at the Mount Errigal on January 29th and tickets are now on sale.
“We are delighted to have a guest the calibre of Ronnie Delaney,” Martin said.
“He is one of the real legends of Irish sport and we are honoured and delighted that he has accepted our invitation.”
All the winners from 1976 will also be guests on the night. Two of those – James Doherty and Tom Eaton – have since passed to their eternal rests. The first Donegal Sports Star Awards committee will also be honoured on the night.
For the first two years of the Sports Star Awards, in 1976 and 1977, there was no overall winner, but Liam Doherty of Lifford Athletic Club was the first recipient of the overall award, in 1978
Doherty still holds the Donegal records in the 110m and 400m hurdles.
In 1980, he did the 110m hurdles in 15:23 in the Omega Final in Belfield while he recorded a time of 53:70 for the 400m hurdles in Copenhagen the same year.
He got into the sport by something of a chance encounter.
“Lifford were looking for someone to do the hurldes in the National League – seeing as I was 6’3” I kind of fitted the bill of what they were looking for,” he said at this evening’s function.
“I never looked back.”
On the Donegal Sports Star Awards, Doherty said: “It’s great to get recognition from your own peers in your own county. It was unreal to win that award in 1978.”
Other former overall winners in attendance at the launch were athlete Danny McDaid (1979), rally driver Vincent Bonner (1983) cyclist Joe Barr (1984), athlete Hugo Duggan (1988) and athlete Sharon Foley (1989 and 1993).
Foley is one of only three people to win the overall award more than once. The others are power lifter Billy Bourne (1990 and 1991) and rower Sinead Jennings (2001 and 2006).
Other former award winners in attendance were: Con McLaughlin (soccer, 1978), Barry McNamee, McLaughlin’s nephew (soccer, 2013), Danny Ryan who was the only man to win an award five years in a row (boxing, 1990-1994), Rory Kennedy (motorsport 1985, 1992 and 2006), Francie Friel (team manager, 2014), Jack Green (appreciation, 2003), Meganne Herron and Linda Bennett (international award winners Finesse Gymnastics, 2014), Tom Connaghan (appreciation award 1982), Joe Boyle (hurling, 2012), Mel O’Donnell (primary school teacher 2011), Meg Carr (special athlete award 2010 and 2014), Brid McGinty (soccer 2014), Neil Gordon (secondary school teacher, 2007) and Anne McCafferty (tennis 1976).Tags: