Spirit & attitude key as Leitrim celebrates sporting stars

The famed Leitrim spirit may be most proclaimed by the county’s footballers but at last Saturday’s 2011 Leitrim Sports Star Awards, that spirit and positive attitude was evident in the 27 nominees and ten winners from a wide variety of sports in the splendid surroundings of the Lough Rynn Castle Hotel in Mohill.

The famed Leitrim spirit may be most proclaimed by the county’s footballers but at last Saturday’s 2011 Leitrim Sports Star Awards, that spirit and positive attitude was evident in the 27 nominees and ten winners from a wide variety of sports in the splendid surroundings of the Lough Rynn Castle Hotel in Mohill.

By John Connolly

With winners from Mohill, Dromahair, Carrick-on-Shannon, Manorhamilton, Carrigallen, Gortletteragh, Fenagh and Drumshanbo and ranged across sports as diverse as ladies football, handball, athletics, soccer and gaelic football, it was a night to celebrate all that is good in Leitrim sport.

Whether you call it punching above your weight or showing the right mental attitude, speaker after speaker mentioned the power of positive thinking at the event organised by the Leitrim Sports Partnership and it was certainly no wonder that the right mental approach was something that guest speaker Gerry Duffy emphasised.

In an enthralling speech that captivated the audience, Gerry recounted how he went from a passive watcher of sports to a man who completed an epic 32 marathons in 32 days in 32 counties or the almost unbelievable Deca-Ironman where he completed ten full Ironman triathlons on ten consecutive days.

To just put that into perspective, Gerry swam 2.4 miles, cycled 116 miles and then ran a full marathon every day for ten days so it is no wonder that the Mullingar man is an advocate of positive thinking.

Asked by the Observer what his advice would be to the young Leitrim stars of the future in the Lough Rynn Hotel – “First of all congratulations to anyone who is here. It is great to celebrate sport and what I like to share is what sport has given me because I believe that I’m the most average guy who ever took up sport.

“I was once someone who was at the very opposite end of the spectrum to what I am now, someone who was very unmotivated and not really into sport at all, I maybe watched it on television.

“But when I took up running quite late, in my late 20s, I didn’t realise what it was going to give me, not only in terms of physical fitness but mental fitness.

“It has opened up a whole world of opportunities for me but it is about participation in sport as well, that I’m lucky enough to be out there as well. Tonight is a celebration of achievement and I’m very much looking forward to meeting everyone.

“I think that we all aspire to be the people who were our heroes and I certainly know had plenty of those when I was growing up. But to realise that we can do it, that is the task. Irish people have been boxing above their own weight for the last hundred years in sport and thankfully, this is the next generation.

To read the full story see this week’s Leitrim Observer.