THE former British and Irish Lions player, Trevor Ringland, has said that the importance of sport can be measured by the positive aspects it brings to society.

Speaking at the 17th annual sports awards, hosted by Moyle Sports Advisory Committee in Ballycastle at the weekend, Mr. Ringland spoke at length about how sport was a force for building relationships and character as well as enriching society as a whole.

“Sport brings so much to society where individuals and teams put a great deal of effort in striving to be the best.

“It is good for building up relationships and the whole concept of sport brings so much to society. It is character forming and provides those involved with a rich collection of memories,” Mr. Ringland told the audience at Ballycastle Golf Club.

He added: “Sport shows how to resolve problems, to find a way around difficulties. Sports people care about what they involved in, care about others and want them to do well.”

Mr. Ringland’s message was that sport could bring about a better understanding between communities whose divisions had been sharply brought into focus during the Troubles.

His speech, which contained many references to his distinguished playing career for club, Ulster and at International level, was received enthusiastically as was the contribution of comedian Gerry Donnelly.

Moyle Council Sports officer, Damian McAfee, who co-ordinated a very successful night and the chair of the Moyle Sports Advisory Committee, Tom Christie, who said the standard this year had been exceptional, handed out a total of 13 awards in seven categories.

The top award of the evening – the Outstanding Contribution to Sport - went to one of North Antrim’s most distinguished hurlers the late Daniel McNaughton.

Mr McNaughton passed away while playing for Ruairi Og, Cushendall, in July 1996 at Dunloy GAA club minutes after he had substituted himself because he felt unwell.

His family, Danielle, Emmett, Ruairi and Anne-Marie, were present to collect the award.

Mr McNaughton led Co. Antrim’s 1989 charge to the All-Ireland final against Tipperary.

He was selected as a replacement All-Star in 1988 and also recorded numerous awards both at club and County level.

Announcing the award, Damian McAfee described Mr McNaughton as one of the greatest hurlers to come out of County Antrim.

The other top award of the evening went to Ballycastle cyclist, John Madden, whose achievements at numerous road races in the country during the year have been outstanding.

Members of Armoy Rugby Club won the Special Merit Team award having raced to two successive league titles.

Ballycastle Ladies Golf Club whose victory in the Miele Fourball tournament earned them the Adult Team Award.

McQuillans hurlers picked up two titles - the Junior Team award (Under-14s) and the Junior award under 21.

The under-18 sports person of the year award was won by Conor Christie, from Armoy, who was victorious in the under-16 cross country championships.

Conor is an outstanding athlete and is one to watch for the future.

At the outset of the awards, presentations and tributes were paid to those who carried the Olympic torch through the Moyle area in preparation for the London 2012 Games.

Daniel Black, Paul McLister, Sophie Lynn, Ciaran Kinney and Kevin Bartlett were present but Lucia Quinney-Mee, the other representative, was unavoidably absent.

The chair of Moyle council, Cllr. Sandra Hunter, was present along with members of the Sports Committee.