The Micheál O'Muircheartaigh National Sports Commentator of the Year Award

Our very own Paddy Hunter, the Q101.2fm commentator and sports journalist, has created history by becoming the first winner of The Micheál O'Muircheartaigh National Sports Commentator of the Year Award, orgainsed in association with the annual Sam Maguire Festival in Dunmanway.

The Omagh- based journalist beat off stiff competition from all over Ireland to claim the honour of being the initial winner of the special commissioned piece of sculpture by the famous sculptress Cliana Cussen.

Kerry man Michael O'Muircheartaigh himself handed over the award to Paddy quipping that “it might be the first of three or indeed the only title going to the O’Neill County in the coming days”.

Speaking to a packed gathering that included former GAA president Sean Kelly and incoming president Cork’s Christy Coney, the RTE broadcast legend spoke of the importance of and the wonderful work done by local radio over the country,

“In 1926, there was only one radio station on this island - now there are dozens, covering the length and breadth of the country all covering our Gaelic games. I am delighted to lend my name to this award and to be associated with it. I trust it will be a fitting reward for the local broadcasters who do so much valuable work”

Festival director Declan Hurley outlined the background to the award. “We continue to develop the Sam Maguire Festival here in Dunmanway and this award opens the interest to a national audience. We contacted all the local radio stations on the island of Ireland and we had a stunning response.

“The quality of the entrants was superb and a big judging panel had quite a difficult job. I am delighted that Paddy Hunter from Tyrone was confirmed as the very first winner.”

Paddy Hunter is based with Q101 in Omagh and covers a wide range of sports for the six radio stations within the Northern Media Group. The former Omagh St Enda's hurler, handballer and GAA administrator has covered Tyrone, Fermanagh and Ulster football since the Omagh station’s inception in 2002.

Luckily for him it coincided with the most successful years of Tyrone and Fermanagh Gaelic football in their histories.

“To say I was shocked when I got the call would be an understatement. I am deeply honoured to be the first winner and to receive the Micheál O'Muircheartaigh award from the man himself was the icing on the cake,” says Paddy.

The Festival committee is hopeful the award will help raise the profile of the festival in the years to come. Congrats Paddy.

Omagh District Council held a Reception in his honour on Wednesday, August 12th at 7pm in the Council Offices.  Councillor Patrick McGowan’s speech is quoted HERE.