Lacey lifts the top award

Karl Lacey is the Donegal Sports Star of the Year for 2012. Donegal’s most decorated Gaelic Footballer of all time was named the overall Donegal Sports Star of the Year for 2012 at the Donegal County Council Donegal Sports Star of the Year banquet in the Mount Errigal Hotel on Friday night.

Karl Lacey is the Donegal Sports Star of the Year for 2012. Donegal’s most decorated Gaelic Footballer of all time was named the overall Donegal Sports Star of the Year for 2012 at the Donegal County Council Donegal Sports Star of the Year banquet in the Mount Errigal Hotel on Friday night.

The Four Masters man, who had a most successful season, was presented with his award by Irish Boxing’s Head Coach, Billy Walsh, before an attendance of 582 in a packed Glenveigh Suite in the Mount Errigal, Letterkenny.

The year was a remarkable one for the 28 year-old from Donegal Town. He began the year by helping Ulster to yet another Interprovincial title. He won back-to-back Ulster championship medals, and an All-Ireland Celtic Cross, picked up a fourth All-Star Award, and was named the GPA/GAA Gaelic Footballer of the Year, following a vote from his playing peers from the other 31 counties as well as New York and London.

On Friday night he was recognised by his own county as Donegal’s Overall Sports Star of the Year.

Echoing sentiments that his manager Jim McGuinness would have been proud of, Karl insisted that he was collecting the award on behalf of his teammates and all those involved with the Donegal success.

“It is brilliant to receive awards and it is a reward for all the hard work and dedication that goes into being successful,” said Karl.

“The game I’m in, though, is a team game and it is not about individual awards; it’s all about team awards. But yes, it is a reward for all those 7 am sessions in the gym, and all those cold wintry nights in January training in Castlefin, when all you ever think about is winning things with your team and winning with the lads.

“While it is a nice to win awards, it is all about team and the reason I’m standing up here is because of all the effort and hard work put in by the players, the management and the backroom team, the medical staff the physios and this award is every bit as much theirs as it is mine. I dedicate this award to all those involved with the Donegal team.”

Karl is currently on the injury list and is going to miss most of the National Football League following surgery on a hip injury before Christmas. Nevertheless, he is looking forward to getting back into action and defending the All-Ireland crown.

“I had the surgery five weeks ago and at the time I was told the recovery period was 12 weeks, so I’m almost half way there and I‘m looking forward to getting back to training and preparing for the season ahead.”

As for winning back-to-back All-Irelands and successfully defending their Ulster and All-Ireland crowns, Karl had this to say: “ It is definitely harder to put All-Irelands back-to-back. Every team is out to get us. I spoke to Henry Shefflin at the All-Stars night and I asked him how difficult was it to retain the All-Ireland and his response was, ‘twice as hard’.

“But that is the challenge for us this year, but it is a challenge we are looking forward to. We had a team holiday in Dubai after Christmas and during the holiday we had a number of team meetings to discuss the challenge ahead of us and it is a matter of just knuckling down and being ready for all those challenges ahead of us.

“The National League starts next week and, of course, we are into the big game in the first round of the Ulster championship against Tyrone and that is the first big challenge. But the aim is to retain Ulster and then move on and begin the defence of the All-Ireland.

“There are a lot of teams out there hurting. Kerry have not won an All-Ireland in a few years; they are once again going to be in the reckoning. You also have Tyrone and Dublin and there are a few others out there as well. It is wide open, and I feel there are at least five or six teams capable of winning the All-Ireland and on any given day any of those teams are capable of beating each other. I don’t think any team is unbeatable.”

And as for those trademark Lacey white boots, expect to see them again in 2013, even if it is summer time or late Spring at the earliest before they appear.

“They are just something I started wearing a few years ago and at the time I got a lot of stick from the rest of the lads. But I’m so stubborn I continued to wear them and I really don’t give it much thought. I’m 28 now, so I don’t think there is any point changing them at this stage.”

For Jim McGuinness and all of Donegal it is very much a case of the sooner the better that Karl and those white boots are back in action and once more at the heart of the Donegal defence.

SEE CENTRE PAGES FOR FULL REPORT OF SPORTS STARS NIGHT.