By Tom Degun

McKillop and SmythDecember 9 - Sprint sensation Jason Smyth (pictured left) and middle distance star Michael McKillop (right) have shared the Outstanding Male Performance prize at the inaugural OCS Irish Paralympic Awards Ceremony at the Moran Red Cow Hotel in Dublin.

Smyth, the 25-year-old visually impaired sprinter from Derry, was honoured after claimed gold in the men's 100 and 200 metres T13 at the London 2012 Paralympics while 22-year-old McKillop from Ballymena, who has cerebral palsy, was granted a share of the prize for also taking two golds at the Games in the 800m and 1500m T37.

The other big winner on the night was 16-year-old swimmer Bethany Firth who took the Outstanding Female Performance prize after winning the 100m S14 in the intellectual disability category that was making its first appearance at the Paralympics since Sydney 2000.

The award for Outstanding Games Debut Performance went to hand cycling double gold medallist Mark Rohan with Young Paralympian of the Games being awarded to 18-year-old swimming gold medallist Darragh McDonald.

Meanwhile, the Outstanding member of the Irish Paralympic team 2012 (non-athlete) was awarded to cycling team manager Denis Toomey.

Toomey founded Irish Paracycling in 2001 and has overseen its growth to record success at London 2012 where they team secured two golds, one silver and two bronzes.

There were also a series of media awards handed out at the event with Setanta Sports taking the TV Broadcast prize, Adrian Eames from RTE taking the Radio Broadcast trophy, Brian Lawless from Sportsfile taking the Photographic Image award and Malachy Clerkin from The Irish Times taking the Written Media accolade.

Bethany FirthSwimmer Bethany Firth claimed the Outstanding Female Performance prize at the OCS Irish Paralympic Awards Ceremony after winning the 100 metre S14 at London 2012

Finally at the event, the Irish Paralympic Merit Awards were given out with former Paralympics Ireland secretary general Anne Ebbs taking the Irish Paralympic Order, disabled RTE sports anchor Colm Murray taking the President's Award and retired Paralympic swimmer David Malone receiving induction into the Hall of Fame.

The inaugural OCS Irish Paralympic Awards Ceremony was attended by International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven, who praised everyone in attendance at the event.

"The Irish performance in London was outstanding, created a huge stir within the Movement globally and is testament to the tremendous work that has been done by Irish athletes and coaches and also Paralympics Ireland as an organisation," said Sir Philip.

"Looking to the future it will be important to build on this success and enable this successful formula to continue to develop and grow as we move towards Rio 2016."

Also in attendance was Ireland's Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar, who was equally glowing of the Paralympians.

"The Irish success in London was astounding and I was privileged to be able to attend a number of events during the Paralympic Games," said Varadkar.

"Paralympics Ireland deserves great recognition for the work put in to the preparation of the team and we can all look forward with anticipation to Rio [2016]."

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