DEBBIE Byrne’s efforts in leading the Irish Junior eventing team to the verge of European gold saw her crowned as Coach of the Year.
The Ballymena woman has been involved in equestrianism for 30 years and was appointed manager of the Irish Junior European Eventing team in 2010, where her responsibilities included organising training for junior eventers all over Ireland and ultimately selecting a team for the Championship.
Her hard work bore fruit at the 2012 championship in Poland where the team finished in silver medal position in a competition which included countries like Britain, Germany, France and Italy.
“We were in the lead at one point but we ended up missing out on the goal by 2.5 penalty points,” said Debbie.
“I have never been in such a tense situation as it was that afternoon.
“We still have three remaining riders from that team available for this year’s event in France and I would like to think that we are in a strong position to go for a gold medal this year,” she added.
Also short-listed: David Toney (ju-jitsu); Stephen Armstrong (football/running).