Echo Sports Awards 2019: Fantastic Five scoop ‘Leading Light’ Awards

FIVE individuals in both the amateur and professional sporting spheres were honoured with ‘Leading Light’ accolades at The Echo 2019 Sports Awards Gala Night.

Donore Harriers’ 81-year-old European and World Masters Championship medallist Ann Woodlock was the first recipient on the night with seven-time All-Ireland winner with Dublin, Eoghan O’Gara completing the line-up in this awards section.

leading light collage 2019

Eoghan O’Gara, Stephen Kenny and Vinny Perth receive their ‘Leading Light’ Awards.

In between, The Echo paid tribute to three Tallaght men, who as managers, have had a huge influence on soccer in Ireland this year.

Indeed Vinny Perth led Dundalk to an Airtricity League and EA Sports Cup double while Stephen Bradley saw his Shamrock Rovers team bridge a 32-year-gap since the Hoops last raised the FAI Cup and Stephen Kenny has seen his Republic of Ireland Under 21 team go top of their European Championship qualification group on, what is already, a record points total for an Ireland Under 21 outfit.

Kenny, one of the most successful managers in the domestic game and the future Ireland senior international boss, spoke of his fellow ‘Sports Leading Light’ recipients Perth and Bradley on the night

“Obviously I’ve worked with Vinny. I signed him as a player and he became my assistant manager at Dundalk. He’s gone on and done brilliantly this year. I’m delighted for him.

“Stephen Bradley, of course, has won the FAI Cup this year with Shamrock Rovers. A manager who saw out a period of uncertainty, came through it and has done brilliantly.

“It speaks volumes. We all grew up within a couple of miles of each other” he told The Echo.

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Looking ahead to the challenge his Ireland Under 21 side faces in the new year, he added “I’m very focused now on the Under 21 games against Iceland here in March.

“It would be brilliant to qualify for the European Championships for the first time. If the players can do that, it would be a great experience for them, to play in the Champ-ionships and then to try and qualify for the Olympics. We should be thinking like that.”

Also delighted with the recognition of his superb achievement with Dundalk, Vinny Perth said “It’s been an amazing season for Dundalk and as Head Coach and managing that team it’s been a real honour to represent them.

“And when you come back to nights like this in your local community and people appreciate what you’ve done and recognise you, it’s a real honour.

“Of all the plaudits you get over the years, sometimes it’s the one that is closest to your heart or to your family that means the most so, really it’s a special night and I just want to thank The Echo for recognising what I have done and what ultimately Dundalk have done. It means the world to me.”

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