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Alastair Elliott and Joe Brolly named top performers of the Championship

Dunloy's Alastair Elliott celebrates scoring a goal in the Antrim County hurling final at Casement Park. Picture by Seamus Loughran

ALASTAIR Elliott isn't fond of collecting individual awards but did so with some comfort at the AIB Ulster Club Championship dinner in Belfast last night.

At the gala reception, the Dunloy hurling captain, along with Dungiven football star Joe Brolly, were named top performers of the championship in Ulster.

Elliott who returns with the county champions to face Birr in the All-Ireland hurling semi-final next Sunday doesn't feel that the club has lost its way, after drawing with the Galway champions in Mullingar last week.

“I don't think we blew our chance,” said Elliott.

“We came back twice to draw. They talked about their injured players and to me none of them looked injured. So I don't think we have anything to fear in the replay.

“We are not sorry about the replay going back to Mullingar, we may not have won there but we didn't lose there either.”

All county champions of football and hurling were represented at last night's function and recognised by the sponsors when presented with commemorative crystal awards.

AFTER Hungary the edge left Stephen Kirk's appetite for ring wars, having returned from Budapest with a bronze that glittered after his light-heavyweight exploits at AIBA's World Seniors.

As the focus zooms in on the 1998 Commonwealth Games, which take place in Malaysia in September, Kirk says he's back on track after a few months rest.

“It is something I want to achieve, and that's to get in among the medals, gold if at all possible, at the Games after missing out at the last Commonwealth's in Victoria.”

Kirk was speaking after yesterday's prestigious Outstanding Sports Persons Awards by the Ulster Sports Trust, when he was one of four personalities honoured. The 25-year-old Cairn Lodge fighter was delighted to be selected to represent amateur boxing at the reception.

The event paid tribute to his achievements in the past 12 months and those of world bowls star Margaret Johnston, world handball champion Fiona McKenna and leading junior ice-skater Matthew Davies.

“I am very pleased and honoured to have been chosen for this award. It is very nice to be recognised in this way by such a prestigious awards scheme,” said Kirk.

PAUL IRELAND has not quit boxing and intends to return to the ring later this year, the fighter said last night.

After going to ground for seven months of inactivity, Ireland said he had become “disillusioned” with the sport.

Holding a professional record of nine wins and no defeats, Ireland was building a boxing CV which could have led to crack at the British super-bantamweight belt.

“I have decided to return to fighting but I must admit I had thought of quitting altogether,” said Ireland.

“I was disillusioned last year. I had gone nine fights without defeat and wondering where it would take me, if anywhere.

“I was messing about for a bit and not concentrating on what I should have been doing. Now everything that got in the way has been sorted. I've been kept busy with work and I'm studying an aromatherapy course.”

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