From left, Maeve Phelan (Portlaoise Panthers), Mo Nerney (Laois Ladies), Paul Byrne (St Abban's AC), Stephen Maher (Laois and IT Carlow), Saragh Buggy (St Abban's)
There are five nominees for our February Sports Star of the Month award, in association with Downey's Auto Stop, Portlaoise. Once again there are some outstanding sports men and women to choose from, read below to find out why each person has been nominated.
Voting closes at 1.30pm on Friday, March 3rd.
Outstanding throughout February for both college and county, Maher lead IT Carlow to a first-ever Fitzgibbon Cup final, while also helping Laois to a six point win over Offaly. On the Fitzgibbon Cup weekend, he scored 1-19 in total in games against UL and Mary I, while in NFL Division 1B he added another 0-23 in Laois's two games. He scored 0-12, with five of those from play, as Laois beat Offaly in O'Moore Park.
February was a good month for the Laois Ladies football team, as they moved into top position in NFL Division 2. They recorded impressive wins over Clare and Sligo, with Nerney at the heart of both those victories. She scored 1-5 against Clare and then followed it up with 0-8 against Sligo last weekend, as Kevin Doogue's side show some promising early-season form.
St Abban's athlete Saragh Buggy has been forging a reputation as the most talented triple-jumper in the country over recent years, and she further enhanced that in February as she won the All-Ireland Indoor Triple Jump gold medal. She covered 12.86m (a little over 42 ft) to retain the title she first won in 2016, and it caps off an excellent indoor season for her.
Another St Abban's athlete in the running, hurdler Paul Byrne has arguably been in the form of his life over the last 12 months or so, and he backed up that line of thinking in February. At the 'Meeting Indoor De L'Eure' in Val-de-Reuil, Normandy, France, Byrne broke his own Irish Indoor 400m hurdles record, while February also saw him won gold in the 60m hurdles at the Irish Universities Championships.
Our final nominee is Portlaoise Panthers point guard Maeve Phelan. The Irish youth international found herself starting for the clubs senior ladies team in the National Super League after a serious knee injury to Maeve O'Sullivan. Phelan, still a student in Scoil Chríost Rí, has been outstanding ever since taking on the added responsibility, leading the Panthers to successive wins over WIT Wildcats and Meteors, scoring 20 points in the latter game, as the Panthers try to claim a playoff place.