The nominees have been revealed for the RTÉ Sports Person of the Year Award, the RTÉ Sports Team of the Year Award and the RTÉ Sports Manager of the Year Award.
The winners will be presented with their awards at a special ceremony, in conjunction with the Irish Sports Council, on RTÉ One on Sunday, 23 December at 9.30pm.
Presented by Darragh Maloney, the live show will review what was a momentous year for Irish athletes and teams, and look back on the dramatic and memorable sporting moments of 2012.
RTÉ Sports Person of the Year
Fionnuala Britton - European Cross Country gold medallist
Rory McIlroy - World number one golfer and USPGA champion
Mark Rohan - Handcycling Paralympic double gold medalist,
Karl Lacey - Donegal’s All-Ireland winning centre-back and GAA/GPA Footballer of the Year
Rob Kearney - Heineken Cup winner, ERC European Player of the Year and Guinness Rugby Writers Player of the Year
Katie Taylor - Olympic gold medal winner and world boxing champion
Jason Smyth - Double gold medal-winning Paralympic athlete and world record holder in the 100m and 200m
Henry Shefflin - All-Ireland winner and GAA/GPA Hurler of the Year
Michael McKillop - Double gold medal-winning Paralympian in the 800m and 1500m
Joseph O’Brien - Champion jockey and winner of the Irish Derby, Epsom Derby, 2000 Guineas, Coronation Cup, Prince of Wales's Stakes, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, Racing Post Trophy and Grand Prix de Paris
RTÉ Sports Team of the Year
Leinster - Three-time Heineken European Cup winners
Donegal - All-Ireland and Ulster football champions
Cork - All-Ireland Ladies football champions for six out of the last seven years
Irish Paralympic team - Recorded a 16-medal haul at London 2012
Sligo Rovers - Winners of the Airtricity League Premier Division title for the first time in 35 years
Kilkenny - Back-to-back All-Ireland hurling champions
Wexford - Three-in-a-row All-Ireland camogie champions and the Irish boxing team - Claimed four medals at the London Olympics
Irish women's cross country team - Gold medallists at the European Championships in Budapest.
RTÉ Sports Manager of the Year
Brian Cody - Kilkenny hurling manager
JJ Doyle - Wexford camogie manager
Billy Walsh - Head coach with the IABA High Performance Unit
Mick Cooke - Drogheda United manager whose side won the EA Sports Cup and qualified for the Europa League
Joe Schmidt - Heineken European Cup-winning coach
Jim McGuinness - Donegal football manager who bridged a 20-year gap in bringing Sam Maguire back to the north west
Eamonn Ryan - Manager of the Cork ladies football squad who again in 2012 took All-Ireland honours
The awards ceremony will also see the RTÉ/Irish Sports Council's Hall of Fame Award presented to a very special Irish sporting legend.
The winner of the RTÉ Sports Team of the Year will be selected by the public via phone and text vote on the night. Details will be announced live on the programme.
The winner of the RTÉ Sports Person of the Year will be selected by a panel of RTÉ Sport journalists and editorial staff.
The winner of the RTÉ Sport Manager of the Year will be selected by a panel of representatives from the following 18 national media outlets: the Belfast Telegraph, the Irish Daily Mail, the Irish Examiner, the Irish Independent, The Irish Times, the Irish Mirror, Newstalk, RTÉ, TheScore.ie, Setanta Sports, the Irish Daily Star, The Irish Sun, the Sunday Independent, The Sunday Times, the Sunday World, TG4, Today FM and TV3.
The RTÉ Sports Person of the Year Nominees:
Fionnuala Britton - The Wicklow runner successfully retained her European Cross Country title with a superb performance in Budapest at the weekend. She assumed the lead early and held off her rivals to follow up on her victory in Slovenia in 2011.
It was a day of double delight for Britton in the Hungarian capital as the Irish women’s team claimed gold in the team event.
Early in 2012, Britton claimed victory in the Great Edinburgh and Antrim cross country events.
Rob Kearney - By any yardstick, 2012 has been a stand-out year for the Leinster full-back. Having missed his side’s 2011 Heineken Cup final victory through a serious knee injury picked up while on international duty, Kearney was determined to make amends this year and did so in spectacular fashion.
The Dundalk native featured in every one of Leinster’s Heineken Cup games on their way to their third European triumph in four years, scoring six tries on the way and putting in consistently impressive performances.
Kearney’s displays were hailed by his peers and the media alike as he was named both ERC European Player of the Year and Guinness Rugby Writers Player of the Year.
Karl Lacey – At 28, Karl Lacey is in the prime of his football career and it shows. The versatile defender was at the heart of Donegal’s triumphant All-Ireland campaign, helping to marshal the meanest defence in the Championship and chipping in with some crucial scores up the other end of the pitch.
The Four Masters clubman was named among the GAA/GPA All Stars for the fourth time as well as picking up the Footballer of the Year award.
Rory McIlroy - The fact that people are no long surprised by Rory McIlroy’s achievements speaks volumes about the talent of the 23-year-old County Down man.
In 2012 alone, McIlroy has won the PGA Championship, the Honda Classic, the Deutsche Bank Championship, BMW Championship and the DP World Tour Championship. Then of course there’s the Ryder Cup, where he played a starring role in Europe’s ‘Miracle at Medanha’, as well as claiming both the PGA Tour and European Tour money titles.
The Holywood man was named the PGA Player of the Year, PGA Tour Player of the Year, as well as claiming the Vardon Trophy and and the Byron Nelson Award. Indeed, McIlroy’s biggest challenge now may well be finding room on his mantelpiece for them all.
Michael McKillop – Antrim’s Michael McKillop provided one of the abiding memories of the London Paralympics when his mother presented him with his gold medal for the 1500m T37 race in an emotional ceremony.
McKillop, who is coached by his father Paddy, became the first male athlete to break a world record in the Olympic Stadium in London when he ran a time of 3:59.54 minutes in the 1,500m at the Visa London Disability Athletics Challenge.
By the time the Paralympics rolled around, McKillop was at the height of his powers. He stormed to victory in the 800m T37, more than four seconds ahead of the chasing pack, before claiming an even more emphatic victory in the 1500m T37.
Joseph O’Brien – At just 19, Joseph O’Brien has achieved the kinds of victories that many jockeys dedicate their entire career to winning.
This year O’Brien combined with his father – trainer Aidan – to become the first father and son combination to win the Epsom Derby aboard Camelot.
O’Brien also steered the three-year-old to victory in the Irish Derby and the 2000 Guineas. There were other Grade 1 wins for the Irish jockey, who also claimed the Coronation Cup, the Grand Prix de Paris and the Tattersalls Gold Cup.
Mark Rohan – An Under-21 inter-county footballer with Westmeath until being paralysed in a serious motobike accident in 2001, Rohan has not let his accident slow him down even slightly.
Going into this year’s London Paralympics as a double Handcycling World Championship gold medallist, expectations were high for Rowan and he exceeded them.
The Westmeath man claimed gold for Ireland in the individual H1 time trial and the gruelling 48k individual H1 road race. He has already signalled his intentions to defend his medals at Rio in 2016.
Katie Taylor -2012 was the year that Katie Taylor’s entire boxing career had been building to. The supremely talented Bray fighter has won European and World titles with such regularity that it was with a sense of expectation that she claimed gold at the World Amateur Championship in China.
London 2012 was different. There are many who would argue that women’s boxing would not have been an Olympic sport were it not for Taylor’s efforts and achievements. Such was Taylor’s dedication to the sport, that she lobbied for one of her biggest rivals, Queen Underwood, to be awarded a wildcard place at London when she failed to qualify.
The Wicklow woman was named as the Irish flag bearer for the opening ceremony and the entire country came to a standstill during her bouts, none more so that the final when she beat Russia’s Sofya Ochigava to claim gold.
Jason Smyth – World records and gold medals were Jason Smyth’s stock in trade this year. The sprinter, who suffers from Stargardt’s disease, was sensational at the London Paralympics, smashing records and claiming two gold medals.
Smyth broke the 100m (T13 class) record in his heat, before shaving a further .08 of a second off that time on his way to gold in the final. His performance in the 200m was equally as impressive, setting another new world record as he stormed home to claim his second gold of the games.
Indeed, it could have been an even busier year for Smyth, who had signalled his intentions to compete in the Olympic games, but missed out on a qualifying time by an agonizing .04 of a second. Nevertheless, the Derry man has set his sights on qualifying for the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Henry Shefflin - The Kilkenny legend had another stellar year in 2012.
He broke records in collecting his ninth All-Ireland medal, his 11th All-Star award, his third Hurler of the Year award and stretched his number of consecutive championship starts to 62. For good measure, he also helped his club Ballyhale Shamrocks to their fifth county title in seven years. His achievements in 2012 were all the more remarkable considering he started the year with a serious shoulder injury.
His performance in the drawn All-Ireland final against Galway is widely seen as having saved Kilkenny from defeat on the day, and set the Cats up to take their 34th All-Ireland title in a replay in late September.