BY KIERAN McCARTHY
ONE of Ireland’s top young athletes has scooped the 2016 Celtic Ross West Cork Youth Sports Star of the Year Award.
After a sensational year, Glengarriff athlete Darragh McElhinney (16) has been rewarded with the coveted award that recognises and honours exceptional young sporting talent in West Cork.
‘This is a really special award, I’m delighted because it’s such a special award to win,’ a thrilled Darragh beamed.
‘There are other awards out there but this is the big one, this is the one I wanted to win because it’s great to get recognised in your own home area.’
Darragh’s list of achievements in 2016 makes for an exceptional read, as not only is he the reigning Schools’ International 1500m champion – a stunning finish saw him win the SIAB Schools’ International race in Kent – this talented athlete also won South Munster, Munster and All-Ireland titles, as well as represent Ireland at the European Cross-Country Championships in Italy in December (he was the youngest runner in the U20 race).
The Beara teeanger was also handpicked by Irish Olympic pentathletes, Arthur Lanigan O’Keefe and Natalya Coyle, to travel with them to Brazil for a two-week camp before last August’s Olympic Games in Rio.
His coach, and Athletics Ireland National Junior Endurance Coach, Steven Macklin, has desribed Darragh as ‘one of those special talents that you only come across, perhaps, once or twice in a coaching career.’
Darragh was one of a number of Youth Sports Star quarterly award winners in 2016, along with Bantry Bay Ladies RFC duo Rachel O’Shea and Laura Cato, European bowling champion Maria Nagle and world junior kickboxing champions Grainne Begley and Sean Brady.
Darragh will be honoured at the Celtic Ross West Cork Sports Star gala awards night in the Celtic Ross Hotel on Saturday, January 21st, starting at 7pm. Tickets (€35 per person) are available to the public by contacting Emma in the Celtic Ross on 023-8848722.
On the night, the 2016 Celtic Ross West Cork Sports Star will be revealed, while in next week’s edition of The Southern Star, we will unveil the 2016 Celtic Ross West Cork Sports Team of the Year.