The nominations for the RTÉ Sport Person of the Year Award, Team of the Year Award and the Manager of the Year Award were announced this afternoon.
The winners will be revealed and presented with their awards at The RTÉ Sport Awards in association with Sport Ireland which will be broadcast live on RTÉ One, Saturday 19 December at 9.40pm.
Presented by Darragh Maloney, the live show will review what was another momentous year for Irish athletes and teams, and look back on the dramatic and memorable sporting moments of 2015.
Conor McGregor will fight for the UFC Featherweight World Championship tonight - he is nominated for RTÉ Sport Person of the Year after his interim title win in July.
There are 14 nominees in total: Leighton Aspell - the first jockey to win back-to-back Aintree Grand Nationals for 41 years. Rena Buckley - earned Camogie and Football All Stars in a year that saw her win her 15th and 16th All-Ireland titles. Michael Conlan - became the first ever Irishman to win World Championship gold with his bantamweight final victory against Murodjon Akhmadaliev in Doha.
Andy Lee - defeated Matt Koborov to become the WBO middleweight champion of the world. Shane Lowry - the Clara native won his first US Tour event, picking up the prestigious World Golf Championship-Bridgestone Invitational in August. Jack McCaffery - Dublin’s flying wing-back was named Footballer of the Year. Rory McIlroy - finished a disrupted year as Europe’s top golfer by winning the Race to Dubai. Michael McKillop - won Double IPC World Championship Gold, bringing his all-time major championship gold-medal haul to twelve. Paul O’Connell - Ireland’s second row giant led Ireland to their second Six Nations triumph in two years and was named Player of the Tournament in the process.
TJ Reid - a key member of Kilkenny’s All Ireland winning hurling team and the 2015 Hurler of the Year. Sophie Spence - one of the three rugby players up for the title of World Women’s Rugby Player of the Year. Richie Towell - scored the goals that clinched both the SSE Airtricity League title and FAI Irish Daily Mail Cup in a season that saw him score 25 goals from midfield; Jon Walters - the man Martin O’Neill singled out as the epitome of the Republic of Ireland’s team spirit, he scored the goals that cemented the Republic’s place at the 2016 European Championships.
This year the highly-coveted RTÉ Sport Team of the Year Award will again be open to a public vote. The public will be able to vote for their favourite Irish team of 2015 by phone and text on the night. Voting lines will be open on the night with details announced at the beginning of the programme and on www.rte.ie/sport.
Celebrating the collaborative achievements of Irish athletes, the RTÉ Sport Team of the Year shortlist features: Dublin Football - a clean sweep of honours in 2015. Kilkenny Hurling - claimed back-to-back All Ireland Hurling titles. Cork Camogie - won back-to-back All Ireland Camogie titles. Cork Ladies Football Team - won their 10th Ladies Football Championship in 11 years. Dundalk - won back-to-back SSE Airtricity League titles and sealed the double by winning the FAI Irish Daily Mail Cup. Ireland Men’s Rugby Team - 6 Nations Champions. Ireland Women’s Rugby Team - 6 Nations champions. Ireland Men’s Hockey Team - beat England to win Euro bronze, became the first Irish team to qualify for an Olympic team event since 1948. Ireland Boxing Team - picked up a phenomenal 10 medals in 2015 at the European Games, the European Championships and the World Championships. Northern Ireland Soccer Team - qualified for their first ever European Championship Finals. Republic of Ireland Soccer Team - qualified for Euro 2016 after a play-off win over Bosnia and Herzegovina. Special Olympics Team Ireland - 88 athletes brought home 82 medals, amassing 26 gold, 28 silver and 28 bronze medals. Ireland Women's Cricket Team - won the Women's World T20 Qualifier beating Bangladesh in the final in Bangkok and make up the final nomination.
In recognition of the huge effort behind the scenes and on the sidelines, the RTÉ Sport Manager of the Year award features the following 12 nominees: Brian Cody - managed the Kilkenny Hurlers to an 11th All-Ireland senior title under his charge. Craig Fulton - coached the Ireland National Men's Hockey side to their first Olympics qualification in 108 years. Jim Gavin - managed the Dublin footballers to All-Ireland victory.
Stephen Kenny - his Dundalk side’s retained their SSE Airtricity Premier Division title and added the FAI Irish Daily Mail Cup. Willie Mullins - trained a record eight winners at this year’s Cheltenham Festival. Paudie Murray - led his Cork Camogie side to back-to-back All Ireland Camogie titles. Martin O’Neill - managed the Republic of Ireland to Euro 2016 qualification after beating Bosnia and Herzegovina in the play-offs. Michael O’Neill - under his tutelage Northern Ireland topped their Euro 2016 group and qualified for their first ever European Championship finals.
Eamonn Ryan - the Cork Ladies Football manager guided his side to the ladies senior football championship for the tenth time in eleven seasons. Joe Schmidt - managed the Ireland rugby team to back-to-back 6 Nations championships. Tom Tierney - his Ireland Women’s rugby team clinched a second 6 Nations title in three 3 years. Billy Walsh - the former Head Coach of Irish Boxing whose team won 10 medals this year at the European Games, the European Championships and the World Championships.
The awards ceremony will also see the honour of the RTÉ/Sport Ireland Hall of Fame Award presented to a very special Irish sporting legend.