The eagerly anticipated and hotly contested Irish Independent Sportstar Awards 2017, in association with The Croke Park Hotel, took place yesterday evening (Wednesday) in the majestic Croke Park Stadium.
The star-studded ceremony was attended by over 300 guests including many of the country's most decorated sports stars as they celebrated another spectacular year for Irish sport, as narrated by the Irish Independent.
Irish Racehorse Trainer Aidan O'Brien was the big winner on the night deservedly taking home the title of Sportstar of the Year after his world record breaking season on the track.
Cuala and Dublin dual star Con O'Callaghan was named Young Sportstar of the Year, and the 21-year-old also picked up the accolade for Team of the Year alongside his Dublin Senior Men's Football Panel teammates. The Team of the Year, a new addition to the awards shortlist, is voted for by the Irish public as are all of the awards, with the exception of the Hall of Fame.
Irish sporting icon Sonia O'Sullivan was inducted into the illustrious Irish Independent Hall of Fame and, in second of two new awards this year, Galway hurler Joe Canning received the award for Magic Sports Moment for his part in the Tribesmen's victory over Tipperary in the All-Ireland Semi Final.
David Courtney, Head of Sport Content, Independent News & Media said: "We in the Irish Independent are honoured to celebrate yet another enthralling year for Irish sport. This is the 29th edition of the Irish Independent Sportstar Awards and an evening we look forward to each and every year. In Ireland, sport plays a huge part in our culture. It unites us. The passion, the energy, the emotion binds us as a nation, as a community. It is our privilege to support Ireland's athletes across all sporting disciplines and from achievements at local level through to the world stage. But these awards would not be possible without our loyal readers and for that we are very grateful."
He continued: "The Irish Independent sports desk continuously seeks to deliver the best quality sports reporting to our readers. 2017 was another exceptional year for Irish sport and Irish athletes across the board and we have relished being in a position to showcase their achievements through our multiple platforms. As we celebrate the successes we also look forward to the future and the journey we will continue on together."
As well as the award winners, many recognisable faces and sporting heroes were in attendance at the gala event in Croke Park. Three-time Olympian Eamonn Coghlan was amongst the numerous athletics representatives including Catherina McKiernan. The most decorated GAA player in history Rena Buckely was joined by LGFA Player of the year Noelle Healy as well as other from both ladies football and camogie.
Celebrating with him, Joe Canning's teammate Conor Whelan relived their All-Ireland success whilst the same could be said for Dublin Senior Football Manager Jim Gavin as he watched his team take to the stage.
Hockey's World Goalkeeper of the Year David Harte mingled with young rising stars such as swimmer and one to watch for 2018 Mona McSharry. While former Irish football manager Brian Kerr, Dr. Ronnie Delany and the legendary voice of GAA Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh were also in attendance.