Thursday, February 02, 2023

By Anthony Hennigan

It’s only when you see them all typed onto paper, sentence after sentence, record after record, trophy after trophy, honour after honour, that you begin to appreciate the incredible depth — and variety — there is to the pool of sporting talent in Co Mayo.

Today, we reveal the 2022 Western People Mayo Sports Stars award winners, which is a who’s who of the county’s finest sportspeople, ranging from hurlers to hurdlers, javelin throwers to darts throwers, boxers to footballers, paddlers to batters, to mention just some of the disciplines honoured in this year’s awards.

In the week of the awards ceremony, which is being held as part of a gala banquet on the night of Friday, February 24 at Breaffy House Resort, we will bring you an in-depth profile of each recipient’s achievements, but in unveiling the winners today, of which there are 20, the following is a synopsis of some of their standout moments of 2022.

Athletics award winner is Ballina native Daniel Kilgallon, coach to some of Ireland’s — and Europe’s — very best sprinters. Among those under his tutelage is Israel Olatunde, who became the first Irish athlete to qualify for the 100m final of a major championship when lining up for the European 100m final in Munich.

Daniel Kilgallon, Ballina.

The scoring statistics are central to Deirdre Doherty becoming a Mayo Sports Stars award winner for Gaelic football.

Deirdre Doherty, Charlestown Sarsfields.

In Charlestown’s memorable eight-game march to a first-ever All-Ireland club intermediate semi-final, Doherty struck 11-59, an average of 11.5 points per game.

Ranked the fourth-best javelin thrower in Europe for his age, Oisin Joyce, from Ballinrobe, set a championship record when winning the AAI Juvenile All-Ireland U18 Championships and is also the reigning U20 and schools champion. No one of his age has ever thrown further in Ireland.

Oisin Joyce, Lake District AC.

The 125-mile Devizes to Westminster International Canoe race is an ultra-marathon that is the longest non-stop canoe race in the world and in April 2022 Ballina man David Horkan became the first Irish person to win the race.

David Horkan, Ballina.

Of all the inter-county GAA teams to represent Mayo last year, only one was to end their season as All-Ireland champions.


Mayo U16 camogie team.

The Mayo U16 camogie team are also recognised among the 2022 Mayo Sports Stars winners, as are Burrishoole LGFA.

Burrishoole LGFA senior team.

The first-time senior football champions of Mayo also reached the Connacht final and will receive the Ladies’ Team of the Year award, while Tooreen Hurling Club are the clear and obvious choice as Men’s Team of the Year, after becoming the first team from Mayo to ever reach an All-Ireland club hurling final.

Tooreen senior hurling team.

One of the rising stars of Irish middle distance running, Clodagh Gill won a thrilling 1500m Irish indoors final and the Irish Schools 3,000m, which saw the Moy Valley athlete represent Ireland at the European Youth Olympics in Slovakia, where she finished sixth in a PB time.

Clodagh Gill, Moy Valley AC.

She ended the year with two silver medals at the National U16 and U17 cross-country championships.

Another recipient is Aghagower boxer Laura Moran, a member of St Anne’s BC in Westport, who, not content at winning silver at the European Youths Championships in Bulgaria last Apiril, went and won bronze at the World Youth Championships in Spain in November.

Laura Moran, St Anne’s BC.


Dual star Fergal Boland enjoyed a fairytale year with his club Tooreen and was the heartbeat of their historic run to a first-ever All-Ireland Club intermediate hurling final.

Fergal Boland, Tooreen.

Moy Valley AC athlete Jake O’Brien enjoyed an incredible year of success, winning the national indoor and outdoor U19 racewalking titles, the U20 5000m and qualifying for this year’s U20 European Cup of race-walking in Czech Republic.

Jake O’Brien, Moy Valley AC.

Ballyhaunis track sensation Niamh O’Neill is honoured for a brilliant 2022 season that saw her crowned U23 hurdles champion both indoor and outdoor.

Niamh O’Neill, St Colman’s South Mayo AC.

A quite remarkable day in Mayo sport last April is also recognised as the Mayo darts teams — men’s and ladies — become Sports Stars winners in recognition of winning their respective All-Ireland inter-county championships on the same day.

Mayo men’s and ladies darts teams.

Recognised as one of the fastest growing sports in the country, the Breaffy Ladies’ rounders team had the distinction of not only winning the All-Ireland senior championship but having the perfect 10:- season — the only team, men, women, or mixed, in the country to do so.

Breaffy Women’s Rounders.

It’s not just for her work of the past 12 months but that of the past 12 years and more that Deirdre Whyte deservedly becomes a Mayo Sports Star. It was then that Deirdre established girls’ rugby in Ballina and the success could scarcely have been imagined; this year alone Ballina RFC has six players on the Connacht U18 team, two on the Connacht senior team, and the 40 girls registered for Ballina’s U16 team alone is more than any other club in the province. Deirdre is also the first female president of any rugby club in Mayo.

Deirdre Whyte, Ballina RFC.

This year’s Community Award goes to Bohola Moy Davitts GAA Club for its GAA For All initiative that provides opportunities for children with additional needs from right across the county to train in a range of GAA and multi-skills activities.

GAA For All, Moy Davitts GAA Club.

This year’s Soccer award goes to the first team of Ballinrobe Town FC. In only their second season, Ballinrobe won every domestic competition possible (League 1, Tonra Cup, Premier Cup) without losing a game, going more than 20 matches undefeated.

Ballinrobe Town FC.

Alex Halligan has his sights set on representing Ireland at the 2028 Olympics when kickboxing will make its first-ever appearance at the Games. The Claremorris teenager is going the right way about things as he became a triple Irish champion in 2022, winning the WKA, IKF and KBI titles.

Alex Halligan, Claremorris.

Hall of Fame: John O’Mahony

Arguably the most successful Gaelic football manager that Mayo has ever produced, John O’Mahony is still at the cut and thrust of the game some 40 years after he guided Mayo to win the 1983 All-Ireland U21 Championship, a competition he had won as a player just nine years earlier.

John O’Mahony.

Later taking Mayo to their first All-Ireland SFC final in 38 years, it was outside the county where the Kilmovee native enjoyed his most notable successes, managing Leitrim to their first Connacht SFC title in 67 years and Galway to two All-Ireland SFC titles, their first in more than 30 years.

Holding the rare distinction of managing three counties to Connacht SFC titles, Johnno was also an advisor in 2005 to Ballina Stephenites, the last Mayo team to win the All-Ireland Club SFC. He managed the Salthill-Knocknacarra team that reached last year’s Galway SFC final.

Young Sportsperson: Ronan Clarke

The Western People 2022 Young Sportsperson of the Year is Ronan Clarke.

Ronan Clarke.

A joint-captain of the Mayo team that won the Connacht U17 Football Championship and that reached the All-Ireland Final, Ronan was the highest-scoring minor footballer in the country, named Man of the Match in Mayo’s All-Ireland semi-final victory against Kerry and subsequently selected on the Electric Ireland Team of the Year.

He also won the year’s two big club football and soccer competitions in Mayo for his age — the County U18 A Football Championship with Bohola Moy Davitts GAA Club and the Quigley U18 Cup with Kiltimagh/Knock United.

Ticket details

The 2022 Western People Mayo Sports Stars Awards gala banquet will take place at Breaffy House Resort on the night of Friday, February 24.

The function will include a drinks reception, a three-course meal, wine, the awards ceremony and entertainment. Tickets are priced at €65 per person.

For ticket enquiries contact Seamus Smyth at 096-60999 or email [email protected]

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