IT’S not an easy task to try and stay one step ahead of Ireland’s fastest woman Phil Healy – but that was the challenge accepted by the organisers of the Celtic Ross Hotel West Cork Sports Star Awards.
Last Sunday night the Ballineen bullet was crowned the 2020 West Cork Sports Star of the Year in recognition of her tremendous success last year.
Healy (26) won three national senior titles in 2020 – 200m indoors, 100m and 200m outdoors – to confirm her position as the queen of Irish sprinting. She also set a new Irish 200m indoor record in February 2020. It was another successful season for the West Cork woman and once the judges in the Celtic Ross Hotel West Cork Sports Star Awards decided to honour Healy as the best in the West for 2020, that’s when the fun/sleepless nights began.
Because the awards were being streamed live online this year and the organisers wanted to keep the announcement of the winner live on the night, it meant enlisting top-secret help inside the winner’s inner circle.
Step forward Phil Healy’s mom, Phil.
Once Healy’s whereabouts last Sunday night were confirmed by her coach Shane McCormack early last week – she is usually based in Waterford but was home in Ballineen for a few days – the plan was kicked into gear, thanks to Phil’s mom who kept the secret, hid the trophy at home and also had the link ready on her laptop to join the awards as soon as she heard her daughter’s name read out as the winner by special guest Bríd Stack.
The plan worked. Healy was at home in her casuals, watching the awards on her phone as they went live on Sunday night and she got a huge shock when she heard her named called out as the winner.
‘I wasn’t ready for it all, I was in my training gear from earlier in the day, the hair was glued to my face and I certainly didn’t expect it,’ Healy says.
‘We got a text beforehand, it said you won’t be seen or heard watching the stream, so I thought that was perfect, I could sit back and enjoy it. Then I heard my name, mom came in from another room to plonk her laptop in front of me and I was live on the show!’
Having left her own laptop in Waterford, Healy had asked her mom for her laptop to watch the awards on Sunday night, but was told it hadn’t been working for a while. All the time it was hidden in another room, ready to be join the live awards ceremony.
For Healy, this is her second time winning the West Cork Sports Star of the Year award, adding to her 2018 win. She now joins a very exclusive club as a two-time winner of the Celtic Ross Hotel West Cork Sports Star of the Year award.
Previously, camogie great Jennifer O’Leary (2002 and 2014) and Skibbereen Olympic rowers Eugene Coakley and Timmy Harnedy (2003 and 2005) won two West Cork Sports Star of the Year awards.
‘I am thrilled to be selected for a second time, very few have been selected twice so it’s an honour to be picked from this massive pool of talent in West Cork,’ Healy says.
‘The talent here is unbelievable. It was great to see the talent on that list of monthly winners and there were so many who could have been added onto that list too.’
Healy has already hit the headlines this year with her heroics at the recent European Indoor Championships when she finished fourth in the women’s 400 metres, while she is also preparing for a busy summer and becoming an Olympian for the first time. She can now look forward to the next few months with a spring in her step, having been recognised, again, for her sporting success at home in West Cork.