EXCLUSIVE: Carrick to get its very own sports awards

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Carrickfergus is to get its very own sports awards, the Times can exclusively reveal.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has agreed to host a ceremony recognising the sporting talent that exists in the town.

If the proposed event follows a similar format to those operating in Larne and Ballymena, then clubs and individuals will have the chance to be nominated in categories such as Junior Sportsperson of the Year and Team of the Year. Organisers may also opt for a Sporting Hall of Fame to honour elite or international competitors - past or present.

The town certainly has had a lot to shout about in recent years, with manager Gary Haveron leading Carrick Rangers to the Irish Premiership and scooping an historic trophy treble last season.

In 2014, Carrickfergus Cricket Club swept to an unprecedented quadruple haul of silverware. Fittingly, it was named Club of the Year at Cricket Ireland’s annual awards.

Carrick also boasts an Olympian in Ryan Seaton who, alongside race partner Matt McGovern, this week competed at sailing’s World Championships in Argentina. Seaton is also set to take part in next summer’s Olympics in Rio.

And, of course, Alastair Seeley shone at the NW 200 where he equalled the late Robert Dunlop’s win record.

While dates or a potential venue for the awards have yet to be revealed, a statement issued by the council read: “(The) monthly full meeting reached agreement to hold three separate sports awards events in the following three areas: Ballymena, Larne and Carrickfergus.

“It was also agreed there was potential for a combined event, such as a mayoral reception to involve everyone and also recognise the overall winner.”

Earlier this month the authority’s Operations Committee discussed four options on the future of local sports awards. The first was that it scrapped all of the awards. But a report, brought to councillors suggested: “The ... events which were previously held annually in Ballymena and Larne were a great success and were a highlight in the local sporting calendar. Given the wealth of sporting talent across Mid and East Antrim it would be a missed opportunity not to showcase this talent.”

The committee also considered continuing with events in Ballymena and Larne only for this year, or holding one sports awards for the Mid and East Antrim area.

But its members opted to include a separate event for Carrick which, according to the report, ‘would involve the delivery of three similar events across the borough, at substantial cost to Council (estimated at around £40,000). It would also mean introducing a new event into the Carrickfergus events calendar’.