McGregor’s star rises

by Stephen Findlater

CONOR McGregor was last Thursday night named as the Gazette Sports Star of the Year having made the breakthrough into the Irish public consciousness in 2013, bringing mixed martial arts very much into the Irish sports arena.

He was on hand to pick up the last award of a glittering evening at the Wright Venue in Swords, quickly relocating from the city centre from a Newstalk live show to pick up the marquee award.

His father Tony had originally picked up his April Star of the Month title but he raced across town to be sure of picking up the trophy from the news outlet that was a regular supporter of his as he worked his way up the Cage Warriors ranks.

“I was down in the Mercantile earlier tonight and I was told my Dad was collecting an award on my behalf,” he said when accepting the honour from Sports Editor Rob Heigh.

“This was a fella who didn’t want me doing this sport in the first place and now he is accepting my awards! The Gazette was there when no one was paying attention to this sport so this is an award I am really going to cherish.”

The 25-year-old has long been a regular on the Lucan Gazette pages for his exploits, landing the Cage Warriors featherweight and lightweight belts in 2012, the latter on New Year’s Eve with knock-out of Ivan Buchinger.

From there, he was snapped up by the UFC, signing a multi-fight contract in February 2013. He won his first bout with the world leading organisation in breathtaking fashion in Stockholm, taking just 67 seconds to dispose of Marcus Brimage.

He won knock-out of the night for his efforts, a gong that came with a $60,000 bonus.

It was enough to earn him the Gazette Sports Star of the Month for April and he followed up with a second UFC win in August against Max Holloway in Boston but suffered a torn ACL in that fight, forcing him to be out of action for ten months.

Nonetheless, with his charm and style, McGregor has become one of the most recognisable figures in Irish sport and is set to return to action on July 19 in the O2 as the headline act and believes “2014 is the year I am going to get that [world title] belt.”

He was one of a number of big local winners at the event. Lucan Sarsfields’ camogie section picked up the Team of the Year award for a stunning 2013, winning both the Dublin Feile while also landing their first senior title among a string of other achievements.

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