VOTE: It's time to crown the Offaly Sports Star of the Year for 2018
Following a spectacular year for Offaly on the sporting front, it is now time to crown the Offaly Sports Star of the Year for 2018.
In association with sponsors Guy Clothing, we crowned 12 Offaly Sports Stars of the Month winners throughout 2018, and now it's time for all of them to do battle for the ultimate crown.
The Offaly Sports Star Awards recognise sporting achievement in every class of sport, and in 2018, we had winners from the worlds of boxing, GAA, equestrian, and further afield.
The 12 monthly winners and nominees for the Offaly Sports Star of the Year for 2018 award are:
January - Shane Kinsella (GAA) - Shane Kinsella was one of the stars of the Offaly hurling team through January 2018, firstly scoring 1-3 against Kilkenny in Offaly's plucky defeat in the O'Byrne Cup semi-final, and secondly, putting in an instrumental display in the county's famous league win over Dublin where he picked up a personal tally of 0-3. He won the January award with 47% of the votes cast in that month's poll.
February - Lauren Hogan (Boxing) - Lauren had been shortlisted for the February prize after she cruised to a 5-0 win in the 54kg class at the National Elite Boxing Finals, claiming her third elite title in the process. She won the February award with a whopping 36% of the overall vote.
March - Ben Conneely (GAA) - Having impressed for Kevin Martin's men throughout March 2018, Ben was a stand-out performer in the team's two-point loss to eventual Allianz League champions Kilkenny in the quarter-final stage at Bord na Mona O'Connor Park. The St. Rynagh's man won huge ball in and around the square and progressed play up the field quickly in a barnstorming display. He received 24% of the vote to win in the March poll.
April - Ava Dolan (Soccer) - Ava had been shortlisted in April after being the captain and player of the match as Killina claimed their first FAI Schools Minor 'B' National Cup title against defending champions, St. Mary's, Newport, in the decider. She won with 46% of the vote.
May - Niamh O'Connor (Athletics) - Niamh made huge strides in May and actually set a new Tullamore Harriers record for the 5000m in America in May 2018. Niamh ran 16:34.22 at the IC4A Track and Field Championships in Princeton University's Weaver Field when she finished fourth in the 5000m. Niamh's time becomes the club record, replacing the mark of 16:38.00 set by Pauline Curley when she finished third in the Irish National Senior 5000m in July 2006. Niamh also won the 10,000m event at the MAAC Outdoor Championships in New York in May and won our sports star poll for that month with 32% of the votes.
June - Ryan Dunne (Athletics) - Ryan became our youngest winner yet when he won the day with 27% of the votes cast in June 2018. As one of the youngest athletes on Team Leinster for Special Olympics Ireland Games in June, Tullamore's Ryan Dunne was a brilliant winner of a gold medal in the standing long jump event in June.
July - Aoife Walsh (Camogie) - Aoife was exceptional for the Offaly Junior Camogie team on their run to the All-Ireland semi-final. The Naomh Brid sharpshooter is deadly accurate on placed balls and proved her influence throughout the championship last summer. She overcame the heartache of a one-point loss to Limerick early in July to bury a last-minute free against Clare a week later. Her total of 0-6 that day proved the difference while she was also instrumental as the team that subsequently beat Kerry to set up a semi-final tilt.
August - Snugsborough Benny (Horse Racing) - Snugsborough Benny was our first non-human winner of a monthly award last August when he claimed 37% of the votes. Owned and bred by Ray Loughnane in Shinrone, Snugsborough Benny won the Guinness Galway Blazers Handicap Chase at the 2018 Galway Races Festival, seeing off A Rated and Mine Now by over a length, and the rest of the field by over 17 lengths.
September - Kevin Keyes (Motorcycle Racing) - Reigning 2017 Offaly Sports Star of the Year, Kevin Keyes enjoyed a spectacular September in 2018. Despite a fall and broken wrist early on, Kevin put in stunning performances in Oulton Park and Silverstone. Having been forced to start from the back of the grid in Silverstone, he made up 18 places before taking the line, while he earned a podium finish the following week at Oulton Park. He eventually went on to finish 4th in the overall British Superbikes Superstock 600 class. He claimd 48% of the vote in September.
October - Sinainn Glynn (Boxing) - Sinainn was nominated in October having secured a silver medal at the EUBC Junior European Boxing Championships in Russia. Glynn overcame a distinct height disadvantage in her silver medal bout, but the 60kg fighter landed a series of powerful shots to win unanimously. She just lost out on gold in her final fight in Russia. She won our October poll with 37% of the vote.
November - Lauren Kelly (Boxing) - The Edenderry fighter beat Renee Roche from Castlebar in the 75kg weight class at the National Senior Championships in Dublin's National Stadium in November. Lauren also became a youth Olympian in 2018 and is now an eight-time national champion having taken the step up to senior level in her stride. She won the Novemer poll with 42% of the votes cast.
December - Darragh Kenny (Showjumping) - Darragh and Balou De Reventon were part of the Paris Panthers team who took third place on the podium in the Global Champions League Super Cup final in the Czech capital Prague, which boasted a massive €6.4million prize fund, in December. His team won just over €900,000 after finishing with a team total of 26 faults. He was also recently jumped five places in the FEI Showjumping World Rankings, placing him 21st in the world and the top Irish rider in the list. He won our December vote with a whopping 80% of the vote, the highest percentage achieved throughout 2018.
The overall winner will receive another specially commissioned trophy from title sponsors, Guy Clothing in Tullamore.
Voting closes at 11pm on Sunday, January 20.