Netball wins 4 awards at Belfast Telegraph Sports awards 2017   30/01/2018

Oh What A Night!!!

What a night for the women of Netball in Northern Ireland and all our future stars to come.

Last night at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards at The Waterfront Hall Belfast, Netball scooped a whopping 4 of the 17 awards of the night, eligible in the Gold category for amateur sports/coaches etc, winners were from Team of the Year, Coach of the Year, Player of the year and a special recognition award for our very own NI senior Captain.

This was all as well as the fabulous Joanne Heasley for Portadown Netball Club narrowly missing out on the Game Changer Award, but great recognition of her all her work done quietly and tirelessly in her club, development squads and umpiring.

The women of the Senior Northern Ireland Netball Team have had an amazing year qualifying for Commonwealth Games 2018, Winning Silver at The European Championships and moving to a highest ever world ranking of 8th were awarded the Team of the year

"We're humbled and delighted to win this award, with the Commonwealth Games on the horizon, the best is yet to come," said Caroline O'Hanlon. "We have a great backroom team who have left no stone unturned and we have a lot of good young talent coming up so the future's bright."

They have continued this brilliant form in to 2018 with recent qualification in Scotland for the Netball World Cup in Liverpool 2018. Of course all this being lead by the newly crowned Coach of the Year 2017 Elaine Rice, with her results speaking for themselves on the work ethic and dedication she inspires from the players as well as that which she puts in herself with all the work on and off the court to make all preparations the best they can be to make the difference when it counts. On receipt of her award Elaine commented

"It's a big night for netball and we're absolutely delighted. We have an amazing bunch of girls who have pushed so hard and raised their own standard," she said. "We have a great backroom team. Everybody believes in the goal and works hard towards it. It's really nice to get netball recognised and out there.

"We believe we are a top seven nation now. All the nations above us are professional. If we can push into the top six, that would be the target."

 It also helps to have the 2017 Netball Europe player of the tournament on our team, who was richly rewarded with the Malcolm Brodie Player of the year award. Last night a stunned Lisa Bowman said

"I'm gobsmacked, I can't believe I'm actually standing up here. If it wasn't for my two boys who keep pushing me and driving me on, I wouldn't be here today. The highlight of my career came in October, being named Player of the Tournament at the European Championships,"

We believe there are more highlights to come yet Lisa.

And just to top it all off a special recognition award was awarded to Northern Ireland Team Captain Caroline O’Hanlon for her dedication and skill in not only one but two sports playing both Netball and GAA to the highest level for Northern Ireland and County Armagh respectively. On receipt of the award a thankful Caroline noted –

"Like anything, if you enjoy something you find the time. I'm very lucky to be involved with a talented group who are enjoying a lot of success. Long may it continue,"

Netball NI Executive Manager Karen Rollo commented “It was a fantastic night for our players, coaches and for the sport as a whole to get so much recognition on a national stage. We in the netball family know how amazing and committed our players, coaches and volunteers are, now hopefully many more will see too and come and connect with some fantastic role models and skilful individuals at the top of their field in Northern Ireland. Congratulations to all our winners and nominees and thank you to all those involved with our clubs and squads, and governing body who help to make it all happen from Draynes Farms, BLK, Sport NI and Irwins Bakery & University of Ulster. The night absolutely confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt #thisgirlcan and we are #strongesttogether”

Chair of Netball NI Geoff Wilson said ” I am extremely proud of the achievements and advancement made over the last year. Not only have we qualified for the Commonwealth Games in Australia this year but we have secured our place at the Netball World Championships in 2019. In addition, we are working hard on developing our club and volunteers together with growing the sport at all ages across Northern Ireland. I would like to congratulate our winners for what is a fantastic achievement and deserved recognition for all their hard work and dedication.”

The Winners :-

Elaine Rice -   Manager/Coach of the Year Gold Award

Caroline O’Hanlon  - Special Recognition award

Team of the Year -Gold

Lisa Bowman – Malcolm Brodie Player of the year Gold

 See more photos of the events and winners on our website