Vote for your Sports Star of the Year
The countdown is beginning to the Westmeath Independent Sports Awards which will take place on Friday, February 28 in the Shamrock Lodge Hotel, Athlone. The twelve monthly award winners have now been revealed and they are profiled below.
The overall winner in the 2013 Westmeath Independent Sports Awards (sponsored by the Shamrock Lodge Hotel) will be announced on the awards night. A Hall of Fame Award winner will also be unveiled in due course. Readers have the chance to vote for the Readers' Choice award in the Westmeath Independent Sports Awards which will be chosen from the twelve monthly award winners.
Voting is via text message to this number: 57199. Each of the monthly award winners are assigned a number from 1 to 12, coinciding with the month in which they were chosen for an award. Voters text INDO followed by the nominee's number to 57199. For example, to vote for the January winner, readers will need to text INDO 1 to 57199; for the February winner, text INDO 2 to 57199; and so on.
The Readers' Choice Award winner will be announced on Friday, February 28 at the awards ceremony in the Shamrock Lodge Hotel.
Voting lines are open and close on Friday, February 28 at 12 noon. Text line available in the Republic of Ireland only. Texts cost €1. SMS entry requires one message to be delivered. Max 30 entries per mobile number per day. Standard network charges apply. You may receive promotional SMS in future. To opt out text STOP to 57272. Helpline BDC 0818286600.
Robert Ashe (Rugby)
Marist College achieved the remarkable feat of securing back-to-back Connacht Schools Senior Cups during 2013.
In January, the Athlone side overcame old rivals Coláiste Iognáid ('The Jes') on the way to their historic final victory.
Team captain Robert Ashe, from Glasson, was chosen as the Sports Star of the Month for January in recognition of his leadership role in helping the Marist to secure the coveted trophy later in the year.
Marist defeated Garbally College of Ballinasloe in the 2013 final. Robert, who usually plays at scrum-half, was also part of the victorious 2012 squad.
To vote for Robert Ashe as the Readers Choice text INDO 1 to 57199. Lines close at 12 noon on Friday, February 28th, 2014.
Andy Nevin & Michael McMahon (Soccer)
Andy Nevin and Michael McMahon were the February winners for their roles in Athlone Community College's victory in the Leinster Schools Senior A Final.
It was the first time an Athlone school scooped the top prize in Leinster schools soccer.
Team captain Nevin was a real driving force throughout the campaign, while 'keeper Michael McMahon emerged as the hero in the final when his sudden death penalty earned his side a dramatic win against St Joseph's, Fairview.
The game went to the dreaded penalties after ending scoreless in normal time, and McMahon, as well as scoring the vital kick, also saved one of the 20 penalties in a dramatic shoot-out.
To vote for Andy Nevin & Michael McMahon as the Readers Choice text INDO 2 to 57199. Lines close at 12 noon on Friday, February 28th, 2014.
St Brigid's Senior Team (Gaelic Football)
The all-conquering St Brigid's senior team are the March winners after becoming the first Roscommon club to win the All-Ireland Club Senior Football title.
In one of the most thrilling All-Ireland finals of all-time, St Brigid's produced an epic comeback to defeat Dublin champions Ballymun Kickhams in the decider at Croke Park on St Patrick's Day. The Kiltoom side found themselves eight points down in the early stages but goals by Senan Kilbride and Karol Mannion helped turn the tide.
And, in a hugely exciting finish, veteran attacker Frankie Dolan kicked the winning point to bring the Andy Merrigan Cup back to Kiltoom.
The south Roscommon club's All-Ireland success came on the back of their achievement of winning three Connacht titles in a row.
To vote for St Brigid's Senior Team as the Readers Choice text INDO 3 to 57199. Lines close at 12 noon on Friday, February 28th, 2014.
Kevin Maguire (Gaelic Football)
Westmeath football star Kevin Maguire is the April winner by virtue of the significant role he played in Westmeath securing promotion to Division 1 of the Allianz Football League.
The Caulry player has become a key member of the Westmeath defence in recent years and regularly finds himself in direct opposition to some of the game's leading forwards.
Westmeath confounded all expectations by earning promotion, as they had been tipped as relegation candidates at the start of the campaign. However, wins over Louth, Longford, Wexford, Laois and Armagh, combined with a draw against Galway, saw the Lake County earn a place in the top-flight.
Later in the year, Kevin was a key figure in the Caulry team which reached the Westmeath Intermediate Football Championship final, but the Mount Temple side were defeated after a replay by St Malachy's.
To vote for Kevin Maguire as the Readers Choice text INDO 4 to 57199. Lines close at 12 noon on Friday, February 28th, 2014.
Niamh Ni Dhroma (Women's Rugby)
Buccaneers women's rugby ace Niamh Ni Dhroma is the May winner after she helped the Athlone club to reach the All-Ireland League for the first time.
Niamh's ball-carrying ability and try-scoring exploits have been central to the improvement shown by the Buccaneers over the past year. In only their second season, Buccaneers clinched a place in AIL Division 2 with a play-off victory over Fermoy last May.
Later in the year, Niamh was selected on the Ireland women's rugby sevens squad and she featured in all of Ireland's matches in the IRB World Series in Dubai. Niamh is the captain of the Buccaneers women's team for the 2013-14 season.
A member of the Defence Forces and based in Custume Barracks, Athlone, Niamh previously represented her native Dublin in camogie.
To vote for Niamh Ni; Dhroma as the Readers Choice text INDO 5 to 57199. Lines close at 12 noon on Friday, February 28th, 2014.
Robbie Henshaw (Rugby)
Robbie Henshaw, one of the rising stars of Irish rugby, made his Ireland senior debut against the USA in Houston last June.
The Athlone man was just 19 when he donned the green jersey for the first time at senior level.
The previous year, Henshaw captained the Marist College to their first Connacht Schools Senior Cup crown since the late 1970s. Since then, the Coosan native has made a meteoric rise for Connacht and his performances catapulted him into contention for the Ireland squad.
Now 20, Robbie came on as a substitute in the Test match against Australia last Autumn, and also memorably played a key role in Connacht's sensational away victory over French giants Toulouse in the Heineken Cup.
To vote for Robbie Henshaw as the Readers Choice text INDO 6 to 57199. Lines close at 12 noon on Friday, February 28th, 2014.
Patrick Munnelly (Rowing)
The July winner is rowing starlet Patrick Munnelly, who won a national title at Junior 16 level at the National Rowing Championships in Cork.
Patrick's success was the first time in 24 years that an Athlone Boat Club member won a gold medal at the National Championships.
In claiming gold, Patrick beat two highly-rated rowers whom he had previously lost to in the battle to qualify for the Junior 18 home internationals. Patrick also came second in the Novice (adult) category, where he was competing against far more seasoned rowers.
A son of PJ and Ann Munnelly, the Coosan teenager only took up rowing in 2012. His progress was initially stalled by an injury he picked up while playing football (he has represented Athlone in Gaelic football).
To vote for Patrick Munnelly as the Readers Choice text INDO 7 to 57199. Lines close at 12 noon on Friday, February 28th, 2014.
Aisling Egan (Soccer)
Aisling Egan was chosen for the August award having captained Bealnamulla to a League and Cup double in the Galway Women's Football League Final.
Later in the year, Aisling played for Castlebar Celtic in the FAI Women's Cup final at the Aviva Stadium.
Managed by Athlone native Adrian Carberry, Castlebar pushed a fancied Raheny Utd team all the way but eventually lost, 3-2, after extra-time.
However, taking part in the showpiece occasion was another highlight in Aisling's sporting year.
To vote for Aisling Egan as the Readers Choice text INDO 8 to 57199. Lines close at 12 noon on Friday, February 28th, 2014.
Ian Sweeney, Neil Harney, Garvan Broughall & Niall Scullion (Soccer)
Athlone Town enjoyed their best season in almost 20 years in 2013 as the club won the Airtricity League First Division title and therefore secured promotion to the Premier Division of Irish football. This success is reflected in the selection of four local stars for the September award.
All four players were valuable members of the squad. Sweeney was also part of the U19 National League winning team earlier in the year, thereby securing promotion to the elite tier at this age grade.
Harney was a versatile figure in the Athlone defence in 2013, while Broughall showed his worth in midfield. Ian, Garvan and Neil are all students in Athlone IT.
Currently on duty in Syria with the Defence Forces, the wholehearted Niall Scullion was also rewarded for his service to the club.
To vote for Ian Sweeney, Neil Harney, Garvan Broughall & Niall Scullion as the Readers Choice text INDO 9 to 57199. Lines close at 12 noon on Friday, February 28th, 2014.
Joe Ward (Boxing)
Moate's Joe Ward created his own piece of boxing history when claiming a bronze medal at the AIBA World Boxing Championships in Kazakhstan.
The powerful Moate man, 20, again showed his undoubted prowess when reaching the semi-finals of the World Championships in his first major tournament since sustaining a bad knee injury earlier in the year.
Ward comfortably beat Russian fighter Nikita Ivanov, to secure a bronze medal.
Ward was eventually beaten by the winner of the light-heavyweight competition, the impressive Cuban, Julio Cesar De La Cruz Peraza. However, the Moate man came away from the tournament having become the first boxer to win medals at the World Juniors, Youths and Senior events in three different weight categories.
To vote for Joe Ward as the Readers Choice text INDO 10 to 57199. Lines close at 12 noon on Friday, February 28th, 2014.
John Joyce (Boxing)
YOUNG Moate boxer John Joyce was chosen as the November winner after the 16-year-old won a coveted European boxing title when representing the St Michael's Athy (Kildare) club at the European Junior Championships in Anapa, Russia.
The highly-rated southpaw was crowned European Junior light-welterweight champion following a commanding victory over Russia's Shakhin Aslanov in the final. John earned a split decision after three two-minute rounds, to secure gold and his fourth successive win by the banks of the Black Sea.
Joyce was also a gold medal winner at the 2011 European Schoolboy Championships in Grozny, Russia.
Joyce is a son of John and Martina Joyce, of Ballycumber Road, Moate, and he has three brothers, Joe, Christy and David.
To vote for John Joyce as the Readers Choice text INDO 11 to 57199. Lines close at 12 noon on Friday, February 28th, 2014.
Sinead Farrell and Heather Payne (Soccer)
Sinead Farrell from Summerhill and Heather Payne from Ballinasloe were selected for the December award having been selected for the Ireland Schools U15 girls squad following a testing trial process.
Both players featured for Connacht in the FAI U15 Girls Interprovincial Tournament. From the players who featured in that tournament, an initial squad of 40 was selected and, following further trials, Heather and Sinead were named in the final squad of 18.
Both girls played in a friendly match against Northern Ireland and are due to travel to England for a further friendly in March before returning to England in April for the Five Nations Schools Tournament (the Bob Docherty Cup).
Heather, who recently turned 14, is a pupil of Ard Scoil Mhuire in Ballinasloe and plays for Ballinasloe Town in the Athlone District Schoolboy/Girl League.
A daughter of Brendan and Grainne Payne, Heather has been a member of the ADSL Development Academies for the last number of years.
A student at St Joseph's College, Summerhill, Sinead (14) is a daughter of Eamonn Farrell and Anne Egan Farrell. Sinead started playing soccer with Bealnamulla, but now plays with Tullamore Town FC
To vote for Sinead Farrell and Heather Payne as the Readers Choice text INDO 12 to 57199. Lines close at 12 noon on Friday, February 28th, 2014.