EXCLUSIVE: Newtownabbey Sports Awards event is shelved

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They have been a resounding success since 2002, but the Newtownabbey Sports Awards could be a thing of the past.

The gala bash, held each year to recognise sporting talent from grassroots to elite level, has been put on the back burner following Newtownabbey and Antrim councils merger earlier this year. The Times understands the new authority will not host a ceremony to mark the sporting success of teams and individuals from Newtownabbey in 2015.

Rugby legend Willie John McBride is part of Newtownabbey Sports Awards' Hall of Fame.

Rugby legend Willie John McBride is part of Newtownabbey Sports Awards' Hall of Fame.

It means there will be no awards for World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea or hockey’s Irish Senior Cup winners, Ulster Elks.

Instead, an Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council Sports Awards has been proposed to take place in 2016/17.

As well as showcasing the hard work of local clubs and raising the profile of disability sport, the Newtownabbey awards marked the accomplishments of international performers.

The Hall of Fame reads like a who’s who of sport in Northern Ireland. Former British and Irish Lions skipper Willie John McBride and Ireland’s Gary Longwell, Denis McBride and Maurice Field stand shoulder to shoulder with Olympic and Commonwealth Games cyclist Morris Foster, and the late Walter McFarland (football / judo). Ex-Northern Ireland footballers Alan McDonald, Jimmy Nicholl, Tommy Wright and John McClelland are also in that club. And they’re in good company with Irish cricket great Kyle McCallan and boxers Neil Sinclair and Henry Turkington also inducted.

A council statement read: “It is proposed that Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council’s Sports Awards will take place in 2016/17. No further details have yet been confirmed.”