Record-breaking jockey AP McCoy was named RTÉ Sports Person of the Year for 2013 on Saturday night.
McCoy beat off some seriously stiff opposition to claim the award for the first time, with world champions Rob Heffernan, Martyn Irvine, Michael McKillop and Jason Smith, European champions Annalise Murphy and Jason Quigley, All-Ireland winners Tony Kelly and Michael Darragh Macauley, rugby star Jonathan Sexton and fellow jockey Joseph O’Brien amongst the other nominees.
The 39-year-old Moneyglass native, who is pursuing a 19th consecutive champion jockey’s title in Britain and has never failed to be champion since turning professional, earned one of Irish sport’s top awards after recording his 4,000th winner on board Mountain Tunes at Towcester on November 7.
“It’s great and a fantastic honour to win such a prestigious award here at home” said McCoy, who was the first winner from the racing world since Barry Geraghty got the nod in 2003.
McCoy won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award in 2010 after finally winning the Aintree Grand National and was third in this year’s renewal.
A winner of all of jump racing’s major races, he broke a 55-year-old record when setting a record of most winners in a season in 2002 (289) and an indication of his enduring brilliance despite an astonishing catalogue of injuries lies in the fact that he became the first jump jockey to ride 2,500 winners more than seven years ago.
There was plenty consolation for Kelly as the Clare hurling panel was named Sports Team of the Year as a result of ending a 16-year drought for the Banner in annexing the All-Ireland hurling title.
Clare were honoured on the double when Davy Fitzgerald received the gong as Sports Manager of the Year.
Fitzgerald, goalkeeper when Clare got their hands on the Liam MacCarthy Cup in 1995 and ’97, oversaw the progress of his young panel, who produced some breathtaking hurling to win ultimate honours after a replay against Cork.
Fitzgerald pulled a rabbit out of the hat in deciding to start 19-year-old Shane O’Donnell on the second day and the teenager responded with a man-of-the-match performance that included three goals inside 20 minutes.
Former Republic of Ireland international Paul McGrath was inducted into the RTÉ Sports Awards Hall of Fame.
The ex-Manchester United and Aston Villa centre-half, who played 83 times for the Boys In Green and starred in two World Cups, described the 1990 World Cup in Italy, when Ireland reached the quarter-final, as a career highlight.
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