Sports stars select 2015 highlights... and look forward to new year’s goals

Olivia Mehaffey. Picture by Pat Cashman.
Olivia Mehaffey. Picture by Pat Cashman.

Portadown Times sports editor Patrick Van Dort made contact with a selection of the area’s sports stars and clubs to review 2015 and discuss future targets:


FOOTBALL: “It was great to be part of Hanover’s successful promotion into Mid-Ulster Intermediate League Section A, especially in our 50th anniversary season.

“On a personal note, Northern Ireland securing qualification to a first major tournament in 30 years was also special.

“Everyone connected to Hanover will go into 2016 with the aim of bringing silverware back to the club.”


WEIGHTLIFTING: “Helping to coach Emma Alderdice from Markethill was amazing as she became the first from Northern Ireland to ever compete at the World Weightlifting Championships in America.

“Emma’s focus now over the next two years will be on the European Seniors in Norway.

“Emma’s increased profile has played a big part in the growing number of participants within weightlifting.

“It is going to be an exciting 2016 due to the formation of a Northern Ireland team.”


FOOTBALL: “Coming into Loughgall last year and helping to keep the club safe in NIFL Championship One was a great moment as a young coach.

“Now, following my appointment as joint manager alongside Stephen Uprichard, the goal is to keep pushing the team forward, securing stability at this level and feeding local youth into the side.

“It was also a big boost to help the club reach this season’s Bob Radcliffe Cup final.”


GAELIC FOOTBALL: “It was a positive year for Tir na nOg in terms of club development and on the playing field.

“We managed to secure a major grant for new changing rooms and remain hugely indebted to the business community and individuals who responded to the efforts of our hard-working fundraising committee.

“We hope to have the project finished by the Spring of 2016.

“We fielded teams from the under sixes up to the seniors, plus enjoyed some individual progress.

“Aiveen McKeown won an Ulster Minor Championship medal and has been selected for trials with Armagh under 21s.

“Dearbhla Guy attended trials for Armagh seniors.

“Joe Hendron was selected for trials with Armagh under 21s.

“Shea Conaty, Conor Larkin and Leo Monteiro will now attend trials for Armagh minors.”


MOTORSPORT: “I can look back on a great year, having moved up to the National Hots Rods alongside the Two-Litre Hot Rods.

“I won the European Championship in Scotland and was third across the British final.

“I finished life in the Two-Litres as winner of the World and British prizes, plus was European runner-up.

“I closed the year with a civic reception hosted by the Lord Mayor Councillor Darryn Causby, which was a great way to celebrate everything alongside my family, friends, team and sponsors.”


GOLF: “My hat-trick of wins in Irish, Scottish and Welsh tournaments was really special, alongside representing Europe at the Junior Solheim Cup.

“The hope for 2016 is to make the Curtis Cup team in Ireland and get some more international wins.”


FOOTBALL: “To be part of the Northern Ireland squad that qualified for the EURO 2016 finals was amazing.

“Now my goal is to keep on working hard and play my best for Doncaster Rovers towards as high a finish as possible.

“Top club form can also give me the best chance to secure a seat on that Northern Ireland plane to France.”


HOCKEY: “As coach of Portadown, I hope Ireland men’s qualification for the Olympic Games can inspire the next generation of players.

“It was a fantastic achievement and reward for four years of hard work.

“It would also be great to see an increased profile for the sport thanks to that Olympic Games boost.

“It sends out a message to everyone of what you can achieve with belief and commitment.”


BOWLS: “Winning the Short Mat Players’ Tour World Masters pairs alongside Lisa Douglas was a great personal moment.

“As Armagh Zone convenor, it was also great to see our men and ladies reach the All-Ireland quarter-finals.”


FOOTBALL: “We enjoyed a fantastic second half of the season at Annagh United that ended with promotion out of NIFL Championship Two.

“Our goal for the first half of 2016 is to consolidate in our first season of football within the Irish League’s second tier.

“I think that would be a fantastic achievement.”


GOLF: “After working my way back from long-term injury it was great to get an invite to a Winter Series in Spain, where most of the EuroPro Challenge Tour and European Tour players go to warm-up.

“Most of 2015 was spent preparing my body and working with a personal trainer to help strengthen those key areas around my neck to prevent a reoccurrence of the injury.

“I’ve seen great progress in my ability and strength and winning two Winter Pro-Am Series events offered a great boost.

“The lasting support over the years from the area’s business community has been vital.”


MOTORSPORT: “To get a double win at Snetterton in the British Touring Car Championship with my new team, BMR, was brilliant.

“It catapulted me into strong contention for the title.

“A sporting highlight I enjoyed as a fan was Kris Meeke’s success in Rally Argentina - the first World Rally Championship win by a United Kingdom driver since Colin McRae.”