The 12 annual Meath Sports Awards will be presented at Knightsbrook Hotel, Trim on Friday 18th January.
The awards for team of the year and outstanding achievement (individual) will this year be sponsored by Navan Dental with the inaugural recipient of that accolade back in 2008 - former champion trainer Noel Meade - making the presentations at the gala event.
There are seven contenders for the team award and six for the individual - each will be interviewed by MC Evanne Ni Chuilinn who will be hosting her eight awards ceremony and then the guests on the night will vote for their choice in each category.
The sportsperson of the year award will also be presented as will the young sportsperson of the year.
For the sportsperson of the year a monthly winner from January to December is selected and one of those 12 will be announced on the night as the overall winner. They will be profiled later this week and there will be a special pull-out section on the night in next week's Meath Chronicle.
Check out the category contenders below - winner in each category determined by a vote on the night amongst the guests.
TEAM OF THE YEAR NOMINEES
Ashbourne RFC - All-Ireland Junior Cup winner
For Ashbourne RFC 2018 will not be forgetten too soon. Not only did they capture the Leinster League Div 1A title in stunning fashion in March they also retained the All-Ireland Junior Cup with a stunning victory over Kilfeacle & District at Portlaoise last January. And as if all that glory so early in the year wasn't enough Ashbourne remain on course to make it a hat-trick of All-Ireland Junior Cups as they secured their place in the final for the third successive year with a semi-final win over Clonmel in December.
Navan RFC - AIL Promotion play-off winner
To secure back-to-back promotions is a remarkable feat for any team, but to achieve three promotions in nine years and climb from junior rugby to leading contender for All-Ireland League Div 2A title underlines the strength and ambition in Navan RFC. Back in 2001 Navan won the Leinster League Div 1A title, but missed out on promotion to the AIL - losing out in the round-robin qualifiers. Now they are on the verge of a place in AIL Div 1B.
Kells Handball Team - World Championship medal winners USA
In August 2018 the team from Kells Handball Club - Dylan Sheridan, Robbie Fox, Troy Flanagan, Daniel Farrelly and Jack Rennicks - won medals at the World Handball Championships in Minneapolis. Dylan Sheridan (22) and Robbie Fox (21) claimed top spot in the 40x20 men’s B World Doubles final. Medals were also won by Troy Flanagan (22) and teenager Daniel Farrelly when they combined brilliantly to claim silver in the men’s C Doubles. There was also a fine individual performance by 16-year-old Jack Rennicks, who took bronze in his section.
Kiltale Hurling Club - Five-in-a-row Jubilee Cup
Kiltale went into the competition as favourites, but quickly slumped and were on the verge of elimination, but somehow managed to bounce back and achieve a feat that was only ever bettered by one club, Kilmessan between 1943 and 1948. However, when the chips were down and they were backed into a corner Kiltale showed true grit and determination to get back into contention and ultimately claim a fifth successive title.
Dunboyne GAA Club - Keegan Cup champions
The news of the life-altering injuries suffered by former chairman Sean Cox outside Anfield before a Champions League semi-final in April had a huge impact on everyone in the club. Driven by a desire to do everything in their power to boost the emotions of Sean Cox and his family Dunboyne hardly put a foot wrong on the football field and while the Keegan Cup winning team are recognised in this Team of the Year category it was a club effort that deserves all the plaudits.
Kilmessan Camogie Club - All-Ireland Junior champions
Kilmessan won back-to-back All-Ireland Junior Camogie titles sealing the deal with 3-12 to 1-12 victory over Four Roads at Pairc Tailteann in November. John Watters' charges had to withstand a strong charge by Four Roads in the second-half but they pushed on with Megan Thynne scoring 2-3.
The victory completed another memorable year for Kilmessan - who were captained this year by Katie Ni Choileain - as they also claimed their 10th successive senior Meath crown. On their way to the national title Kilmessan defeated Raharney in the Leinster decider and Kerry side Clanmaurice in the All-Ireland semi-final with the win over Four Roads proving to be their last stop on their journey to the summit.
Ratoath Camogie Club - All-Ireland Junior B champions
Ratoath won the All-Ireland Junior B Camogie title with plenty to spare when they defeated Clontibret 1-12 to 0-3 at Pairc Tailteann in November. Aine McNerney scored the only goal of the game in the opening half with the Meath side ahead 1-9 to 0-2 at the interval.
The history-making victory completed a memorable year for Ratoath that included a stunning replay victory over Kildalkey in the Meath Intermediate final at Rathmolyon. They moved onto provincial level with a masterclass by Sinead Beagan helping them to a Leinster final victory over Westmeath side Delvin. In the All-Ireland semi-final Ratoath defeated Mayo's Na Brideoga. Manager Paul McLoughlin had his troops ready for the All-Ireland final which they won with plenty to spare.
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT NOMINEES
Stephen Daly (Motorsport - Leinster Trophy)
Stephen won Ireland’s most historic motor race for the third time in three years in 2018, the 75th Leinster Trophy, at Mondello Park. He first won the Leinster Trophy in 2014 and in 2015 he became just the fifth driver to retain it. The Leinster Trophy has been won by some of the greatest names in motorsport history including Mike Hawthorn, Ayrton Senna and Mika Häkkinen.
Elizabeth Morland (Athletics)
Elizabeth is a previous winner of the Young Sportsperson of the Year award in 2013. She is one of Ireland's most exciting young athletes and her introduction to senior athletics in 2018 was a record-breaking one. Already established as a leading heptathlete she made a remarkable debut at the 2018 Irish Senior National Athletics Championships winning two gold medals and a bronze in August. Athletics Ireland also recognised her achievement for a new senior national record in the heptathlon that earned qualification for the u-23 European Athletic Championships.
Ellen Vitting (Triathlon)
Ellen won the National Triathlon Series and was voted Tri an Mhi female athlete of the year following excellent performances at the Lost Sheep in Kenmare, the Carlow Tri on the Barrow and the Pulse Triathlon in Louth (Clogherhead and Dunany). There was the Setanta Duathlon series in Dundalk and a string of top races in the Belpark series in the Phoenix Park and the occasional adventure race or marathon. In October she ran on the Meath team that won team silver in the Leinster novice cross-country championship and the following day ran the Dublin City Marathon.
Cian Carey (Motorsport - F3 Cup – UK)
The Ratoath man was crowned 2018 British Formula 3 champion in October 2018 at Silverstone to complete a marvellous season as the first Irish man to win the British Formula 3 Cup. To enhance that success, his team Chris Dittmann Racing won the team championship. Cian won the Sexton Trophy for the young driver of the year in 2016, made his Formula 3 debut at Donington Park in Leicestershire in 2017 and recorded his first victory in the British Formula 3 Cup at Brands Hatch in May 2018.
Nichola Duffy (Connemara 100-mile Marathon)
The event proved no problem for the Kilmessan runner in August 2018 when she was the first woman home and 11th overall in the 100-mile event in a time of 22 hours and 28 minutes. It is AAI sanctioned and has IAU Bronze Label status. The finish included three laps of Clifden and she bravely kept going despite struggling from the 67-mile marker with an old injury. A remakable achievement.
Niall Cornyn (Triathlon)
Niall had a fine year starting with the National Duathlon Super Series last January and finishing with the Triathlon Super Series in Port Beach Co Louth in September. Niall was the overall winner of the National Duathlon Super Series and National Elite Senior Triathlon series while he was runner-up in the National Senior Duathlon Championship and National Universities Duathlon Championship.