GRACE Boyle, the Chairperson of the Donegal Sports Star Awards committee, has hailed the success of first ever virtual awards.
Last night, the 45th Donegal Sports Star Awards was held remotely, hosted by committee member Declan Kerr, with jockey Oisin Orr receiving the overall award.
Ms Boyle said the positive reaction filled the committee with great pride after what has been a very difficult time for everyone in sport.
“It really was great to be able to do the Awards after 2020 being such a challenging year,” Ms Boyle.
“Great credit first has to go to all the sports men and women who went out and represented their teams and clubs last year when competitions got started in the early summer.
“They were training and playing in a totally different way to what they had been used to doing because of the Covid restrictions and all the fears that there were with the virus.
“Some of them were travelling long distances on their own to get to games and there was all the isolation of individual training programmes when the lockdown had been in place.
“All that was an achievement in itself and then we had some who went onto have success and we really wanted to acknowledge all that. Most of the competitions were behind closed doors but thanks to all the media outlets we were able to watch games and read the reports in the local newspapers. Sport coming back was such a positive for the mental health of everyone who follow the team games and individual events.”
The Chairperson expressed a special thanks to 13 Donegal’s sportsstars who took the time out to feature in the introduction to the show with special sporting messages. T
he opening clip was from former Donegal All-Ireland winning manager Jim McGuinness and he was followed by Donegal GAA senior ladies footballer Karen Guthrie, global endurance athlete Jason Black, open water swimmer Anne Marie Ward, triple European 800m medalist Mark English, former Irish rugby international Nora Stapleton, Republic of Ireland and Everton player Seamus Coleman, World and Olympic rower Sinead Jennings, former Republic of Ireland and Celtic goalkeeper Packie Bonner, three-time Olympian Chloe Magee, Donegal captain Michael Murphy, Republic of Ireland and FC Köln striker Amber Barrett and another former Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given, who had the honour of introducing the 2020 Awards.
It was also a night to remember loved ones who passed away in the past year. Among those remembered were Mickey McFadden and Paul Blaney, two founding members of the Donegal Sports Star Awards in 1976 who passed away earlier this month.
The death of Hugo Duggan in December was also marked with a special tribute during the show.
Producing a Virtual Sports Star Awards Show was a totally new venture for the committee and with the expert technical back-up and support of Shane McGillion from AVC Audio and Visual Company the finished product was delivered and very much enjoyed by the viewers.
As always the role of Donegal County Council is absolutely crucial to the success of the Awards and it was no different for the 2020 ceremony.
Ms Boyle said: “In these challenging times Donegal County Council continues to see even more the huge benefits of the awards and I want to thank Chief Executive John McLaughlin and his staff who were there to help us every step of the way to deliver a really good presentation that was thoroughly enjoyed by the sporting public last night. The Cathaoirleach Cllr Rena Donaghey, was there to support us as well from the time we announced that the 2020 Awards were going ahead and we’re grateful for that.
“For those winning awards it must have been some feeling to be honoured in a new virtual event and that makes them 12 history makers. The reaction afterwards for all of the 12 winners right across the media and in their own communities was something they will surely never forget.”