Promising rugby star Daniel Qualter and Westmeath under-21 footballer Kieran Martin have been chosen as monthly award winners in the 2010 Westmeath Independent Sports Stars of the Year Awards. Qualter was chosen for the January award after receiving international recognition with the Ireland under-18 schools team.
A Leaving Certificate student at Sligo Grammar School, the Athlone teenager played for Ireland in the Five Nations Festival in Wales. After losing to Wales and England, Ireland ended the tournament on a high with a win over Scotland, having also defeated. The Buccaneers player also played a starring role in Sligo Grammar School's success in this year's Connacht Schools Senior Cup. Sligo defeated renowned Galway school, Coláiste Iognáid (The Jes') 26-11 in the final. Qualter is a current member of the Connacht Academy and he recently helped Buccaneers to win the Connacht U-19 Cup. The Athlone youth first made his mark for the Ireland under-18 rugby schools side with a brace of tries in a demolition of Italy at Donnybrook.
Ireland reeled off nine tries as they overcame Italy by 60-3 in the international, with No. 8 Qualter weighing in with the last two tries. A son of former Westmeath senior hurling manager and current Roscommon boss Seamus Qualter, Daniel showed considerable promise as an underage hurler with Southern Gaels. Since switching to Clann na nGael on the other side of the Shannon, Qualter has represented Roscommon with distinction in minor football and he played for Roscommon in the All-Ireland MFC quarter-finals last year.
Maryland star Kieran Martin was chosen for the February award for the part he played in Westmeath reaching their first Leinster Under-21 FC final in ten years. This has been a very difficult year for Westmeath football, but the one positive on the horizon has been the performances of the U21s. They defeated three of the main powers of Leinster football - Kildare, Meath and Laois - to book a final meeting with Dublin. Although Westmeath lost the provincial final to Dublin, reaching the decider provided a major lift amid very challenging times for football in the Lake County.
More known as a forward, Martin was deployed in an unfamiliar centre half-back role for the U21s, but he adapted to the task impressively, and was one of the team's most consistent performers. In the quarter-final clash against Meath, Martin was switched to full-back, and his performance in curbing the threat of the previously rampant Brian Sheridan, was one of the key factors in Westmeath's victory. The Maryland attacker was captain of the Moate Community School team which reached the semi-finals of the Leinster Colleges SF 'A' Championship in the 2008/2009 campaign, when they were unlucky to be narrowly defeated by eventual provincial champions St Mary's, Edenderry. Martin tasted action for the Westmeath seniors in the 2009 NFL Division 1 campaign.
He won a Westmeath Intermediate Football Championship medal with Maryland in 2008 - and he helped the Drumraney club to reach the knockout stages of the SFC last year. Maryland began their 2010 championship campaign last weekend, and Martin scored one of his side's goals in a 2-9 to 0-10 win over Coralstown/Kinnegad.