Ireland’s European show jumping European Gold Medallists have won the RTE Team of the Year award in tonight’s ceremony in Dublin.

Pitched against six other teams representing soccer, GAA and rowing, the Irish jumping quartet of Shane Sweetnam, Denis Lynch, Cian O’Connor and Bertram Allen scooped tonight’s award in a public vote by Irish sports fans.

Cian O’Connor was in the RTE studio to represent Ireland’s European team, and accepted the prestigious award from Ireland’s Minister for Tourism, Transport and Sport, Shane Ross TD, on their behalf.

He said: “We know we have a lot of support here, and everyone has put in a lot of work behind the scenes to make it happen. We’re really thrilled with our performances this year – first the European Championships and now this recognition on top of it. We’re looking forward to next year, with the World Championships giving us a chance to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics”

When asked by presenter Joanne Cantwell how the riders, who competed against each other during the year, managed to coalesce as a team for the championships, he said: “This year we have a new manager, Rodrigo Pessoa, and a very strong high performance committee around him, and he put different structures in place and before the championships brought us all together at his place in Belgium for a week, and worked with us and our horses. That kind of thing brings all the lads together and makes us pull together as a team, and engenders team spirit.”

O’Connor later went on to thank, on behalf of the team, all the support staff, including the 2017 High Performance chairman Gerry Mullins, and the grooms, owners and sponsors Devinish Nutrition and The Underwriting Exchange for the team’s success this year.

Jack Burns