It’s that time of the year again as the best local sports stars of 2018 battle it out for YOUR VOTE to be crowned the Derry News Sports Personality of the Year.
With representatives from football, GAA, cricket, athletics, snooker, netball, boxing and hockey there are some tough choices to be made.
It’s up to you to cast your vote in the poll below on who you believe deserves the trophy.
Below is a summary of what each nominee achieved in 2018.
Ronan Curtis (Football)
Surely even Ronan Curtis could not have foreseen what he would go on to achieve in 2018 when the year first began.
After another superb start to the season with Derry City – with his early contribution to the League Cup campaign earning him a winner’s medal - the striker signed a two-year deal with League One outfit Portsmouth in May before making the move to Fratton Park in June.
In his first 24 games for the English side he scored nine times and registered eight assists – and the numbers continue to rise, with the 22-year-old already on the radar of Premiership outfits, including Leicester City.
Things only got better and better for Curtis as he made his senior Republic of Ireland debut at half-time in a 0-0 friendly draw with Northern Ireland in November. Curtis then made his competitive debut in a Nations League game against Denmark later that month.
Davy Scanlon (Cricket)
It was an exceptional year for the Bready captain as he led his club side to a first-ever North West senior title in their 80th anniversary season.
Scanlon was a key figure in that success as he and Craig Young fronted up a bowling attack that took the division by storm. Both men also provided vital runs down the order for the new champions in a superb season.
The Bready skipper was also a vital cog in the wheel for the North West Warriors as they stunned Interprovincial Championship holders Leinster Lightning.
The Dublin outfit have won the IP title every year since the series started but had to play second-fiddle to Ian McGregor's team in 2018 as they ran out deserving winners.
A real 'champion summer' for Davy Scanlon in both formats.
Megan Devine (GAA)
The Steelstown forward has become one of the first names on the team sheet at both club and inter-county level and she showed exactly why as Derry claimed the Ulster crown in 2018.
Devine was highly influential in Derry’s 2017 campaign as they came so close to the All-Ireland title – scoring a goal in Croke Park in the final before a late Fermanagh penalty sealed a replay - and she continued that form last year.
The Ulster Junior Championship was a trophy that had evaded the Oak Leafers in recent years, but after a tough league campaign they put Antrim to the sword in the provincial showpiece, with Devine notching 1-2 on the day, as well as the Player of the Match award.
Derry then faced Louth in the All-Ireland semi-final, with Devine grabbing a score in a tense and dramatic encounter that ended with the Oak Leafers missing out by the narrowest of margins.
Shea Moore (Snooker)
Glenowen youngster Shea Moore stamped his name on the national snooker season following a blistering 2018.
He became the first ever Derry player to win the Northern Ireland U21 Championship, and claimed three of the four total U21 titles – finishing a runner up in the other.
In February, Moore represented Northern Ireland at the European U21 and U18s Championship in Bulgaria where he reached the last 16.
He went to Leeds to play in the Home Internationals against England, Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Moore also travelled to France where he contested the International Challenge Cup and returned with an award for the Best Junior Player at the tournament.
Locally, Moore has been busy with his Tracy’s Bar team in the NWASA City Cabs Premier League, as well as playing for Resevoir in Division Two.
The extent of his achievements last year were signalled by his ranking at the end of 2018 – number one at U21 level and number nine in the senior ranks.
Paddy Mclaughlin (Football)
It’s was a whirlwind 2018 for Paddy McLaughlin who led Institute to Championship glory and promotion in May, navigating a number of obstacles along the way.
Flooding the previous August at the Riverside left them having to play their home games between Wilton Park and Limavady Showgrounds, but McLaughlin still managed to guide his side to title glory following several years of play-off heartbreak.
‘Stute kicked off their Premiership campaign in their new home – the Brandywell – in August, and they have been the surprise package of the season, with McLaughlin earning praise across the country for setting his team up to play attacking, passing football.
The Blues have managed to distance themselves from the danger zone in the Premiership, and already have significantly more points than they finished their last season in the top flight with back in 2015.
Tyrone McCullagh (Boxing)
Tyrone McCullagh stamped his place on the world stage in 2018 and finished the year 12-0, picking up two belts along the way and becoming only the city’s second ever European champion – in good company alongside Charlie Nash.
At the end of June, he took on undefeated Scotsman Joe Ham, 14-0 at the time, at the SSE Arena and, despite an early knock down, McCullagh recovered well and strolled to a unanimous points win to take the Celtic Super Bantamweight title.
Attentions turned to European glory and, on October 5, McCullagh was the main event at the Titanic Exhibition Centre as he put on a masterclass of boxing against the also undefeated Josh Kennedy (11-0) for another unanimous points win and the WBO European Super Bantamweight belt – taking him to the number 13 ranking in the world.
Megan Frazer (Hockey)
Megan Frazer’s 2018 was the tale of a true warrior who simply didn’t know when she was down. The former Ireland hockey captain had her third knee surgery in less than three years in June.
The World Cup was just five weeks away, and with the coaching staff wanting the 28-year-old to play in a warm-up game against Japan at the start of July before the tournament began on the 21st, it left the defender with just three weeks to get fit – something that was given a five per cent chance of actually happening.
Despite those odds, Frazer kitted out to face Japan and played an important role in a historic run to the World Cup final - a game she unfortunately missed with a hamstring injury - but her incredible comeback to play a vital role in one of the biggest chapters of Irish hockey history made 2018 an unforgettable year for Frazer.
Michael McCrudden (Football)
2018 was one of the most successful in Institute’s illustrious history, and a lot of that was down to captain Michael McCrudden.
The striker led by example as ‘Stute dealt with having no home ground to finish the Championship season strongly, with McCrudden lifting the trophy in May.
Irish League football was back at the Brandywell in August for the first time in 50 years as Newry City came to town, and McCrudden ensured it was to be a winning day as he scored the game’s only goal in a 1-0 win.
That was just the start of it as the 26-year-old ended 2018 as the league’s top scorer, with 18 goals already under his belt, including goals against almost every team in the division.
Jason Smyth (Athletics)
Jason Smyth continued to prove that he is the fastest Para-athlete on the planet as he claimed his 17th and 18th major gold medals at the World Para-Athletics European Championships in August.
The 31-year-old beat his own championship record in the T13 200m final as he finished comfortably ahead of the chasing pack in 21.44 seconds.
Next up was the T13 100m final two days later, and it was a case of much of the same from the Eglinton man who recorded another championship record – 10.66 seconds – in Berlin.
"I'm running better this year than I was last year and I'm in a much better place,” he explained at the time. “I'm just going to keep building and hopefully continue to be successful."
Smyth’s 2018 success will act as a warning sign to his nearest rivals that the local athlete isn’t willing to give up his unbeaten record anytime soon.
Ben McCarron (GAA)
It was a year of firsts for 18-year-old Steelstown player Ben McCarron as he made his debut for both club and county at senior level.
He was part of the Oak Leafers’ first U20 panel and they made history – defeating Armagh 2-15 to 0-14 in the Ulster final in June, with McCarron knocking over two points. He was named in the Top 20 U20s contingent in the summer.
After featuring in the league, the forward found the net against Lissan in his first senior championship appearance, and he was also included in the Intermediate Team of the Year.
The Lumen Christi student featured prominently for Cathair Dhoire as they won their McLarnon Cup group, and now await a quarter-final at the end of this month. He was also Lumen Christi’s first ever recipient of an Ulster All-Star.
The Steelstown man ended the year on a high as he came off the bench and scored a point in Derry’s McKenna Cup defeat to Tyrone in Celtic Park on December 20.
Elaine Rice (Netball)
It was a year of individual and team success for Elaine Rice as the netball coach ended her tenure at the head of Northern Ireland on a high.
The St Mary’s University lecturer was crowned as the Sport NI High Performance Coach of the Year in February 2018 just a few weeks after winning the Belfast Telegraph Coach of the Year accolade.
Rice helped her Northern Ireland side to a number eight ranking in the world, and in April the squad travelled to Australia for the Commonwealth Games – just the second time that the country had qualified for the event, after taking part in 2014.
A superb 73-46 win over Fiji to finish fourth in Pool A was the highlight as the squad left the Gold Coast having finished in eighth place at the tournament.
It was the final act for Rice as she announced she was stepping down from the role, being hailed as the greatest netball coach that Northern Ireland has ever had.
Darren McCauley (Football)
Darren McCauley produced possibly his best year in football yet as he finished 2018 with silverware.
The winger was the Player of the Season for Coleraine as they ran Crusaders all the way in the league title race before beating Cliftonville 3-1 to lift the Irish Cup.
Top of the Hill native McCauley scored a sensational opening goal in that cup final, and it was one of 20 goals he scored for the Bannsiders in the season as he made 46 appearances – 44 of which were starts – and also registered 10 assists.
There was little rest for McCauley and his team mates, however, as they were back into action in July against Spartak Subotica, with McCauley opening the scoring in an historic 1-1 first leg draw in Serbia.
He ended 2018 as the club’s leading scorer for the current league campaign – his final act in a Coleraine shirt.
Voting will open at midday Thursday 10th January at derrynow.com. The first round of voting will close at 9am on Wednesday 16th January.
The top three will go through and there will be a new vote from midday on Thursday 17th January which will close at 9pm on Friday 25th January, with the winner revealed in the Derry News on Monday 28th January.
Maximum number of votes is five per day.
You can vote using the form below.
If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Derry Now editorial team on 028 7129 6600 for Derry City stories Or 028 7774 3970 for County Derry stories. Or you can email [email protected] or [email protected] at any time.