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Stars of 2023 – rugby legend Mannion joins an elite club with Hall of Fame award

IT’S one of those sporting moments which still lives long in the memory – Noel Mannion’s lung-bursting run in scoring one of the legendary Irish tries against Wales in the 1989 Five Nations at Cardiff Arms Park.

The Ballinasloe native’s great rugby career will be celebrated when inducted into the Hall of Fame at the annual Medtronic Galway Sports Stars awards on Friday night, January 19, in the Galway Bay Hotel.

It’s a banquet which will recognise another year of high achievement by Galway sportspeople, not least the World Championships triumphs of rower Siobhán McCrohan and handballer Martin Mulkerrins.

World Player of the Year nominee, Connacht and Irish centre Bundee Aki, takes the rugby accolade, while Galway United’s Stephen Walsh – the on-field heartbeat of the team – is honoured as soccer sports star after a season in which John Caulfield’s squad finally achieved promotion to the top-flight.

It will be a night of treble celebration for Kilkerrin/Clonberne ladies’ footballers after completing the All-Ireland three-in-a-row. Nicola Ward will be presented with the top player award; her dad Willie is honoured as Manager of the Year, and Kilkerrin/Clonberne also win the team accolade.

In Gaelic football, Gary Sice is recognised for capturing a remarkable 13th county senior medal and his scoring exploits as Corofin regained the Galway title, while Galway’s lone All-Star Conor Whelan is honoured with the hurling award after another outstanding season in attack.

2023 was also a memorable year for Róisín Black on the camogie fields. The Oranmore/Maree defender was a consistent defensive presence for Galway, displays which helped her become the county’s only All-Star last year.

Galway don’t produce too many senior swimming national record holders, but John Shortt bucked that trend by setting a new mark for the 200m backstroke, Shauna Bocquet will collect the Para Athletics award after a string of strong showings at international level.

It was a landmark season on the basketball courts as University of Galway Maree claimed an historic Superleague National Cup, with Head Coach Charlie Crowley masterminding this breakthrough triumph.

Pictured: Galway Rowing Sports Star Siobhán McCrohan on her way to World Championships glory in the lighweight single skulls in Belgrade last August. 

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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