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Jersey's star duo hope to build on Sharp success

Sport | Published:

WILL Jersey make it two in a row at tonight's Sportingbet Channel Islands Sports Personalty of the Year gala dinner at Beau S?jour?

With the votelines, published below, not due to close until 10.30 this evening there is still a good chance that, like last year when transatlantic yachtsman Phil Sharp became Jersey's first-ever winner of the main prize, a late surge of voting will tip the scales in favour of an Island athlete, in this case either professional rugby star Matt Banahan or national badminton champion Elizabeth Cann.

To become Jersey's first 'away' winner they must overcome Guernsey's international athlete Dale Garland, a previous winner, and world bowls star Alison Merrien.

Also to be unveiled tonight, live on television, will be the NatWest Rising Star, the Sporting Hero, the Aurigny Team Award winners and the Cenkos Coach of the Year for 2007.

In February Cann regained her national singles title, which she previously won in 2005, beating the top seed Jill Pittard 21-17, 21-13 in the final.

Having faced the fourth seed and the second seed along the way it was considered a well deserved title for the unseeded Cann, who didn't drop a set on her way to victory.

There was another title for the Jersey player in December, at the Yonex Irish International Championship, which rounded off a year that included reaching four European finals.

The success in the year earned Cann, who has represented Jersey at Island and Commonwealth Games, second place in the national rankings as she finished only 66 points behind Pittard.

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Having impressed many on the hockey pitch Banahan found he could do the same on the rugby pitch and gained a late introduction to the game with the Jersey RFC Youth team.

County and Divisional honours followed at U18 and U20 level before he started his professional career with Guinness Premiership club London Irish as a lock forward - during which time he won the NatWest Rising Star award in 2006.

Moving to Bath also brought a move on the field, to the wing, and now Banahan finds himself as the leading try-scorer with his club while also gaining England caps with the Sevens side involved in the world championship series.

Dale Garland won gold for Great Britain in the European indoor championships and was crowned national champion in the 400m hurdles.

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Top of the UK rankings when injury slowed his progress, he still competed in the NatWest Island Games in Rhodes where he took top spot in the 400 metres and a second gold in the one lap relay.

Dedicated bowler Alison Merrien reached the semi-final of the World indoor pairs championships with Scotland's Alex Marshall, and progressed even further to take the Champion of Champions title in Australia in November.

Again the NatWest Rising Star award nominees are bursting with talent but only Olivia Jordan-Higgins makes the list for Jersey.

The talented golfer made an impressive NatWest Island Games debut in Rhodes last year when she made the play-off for the individual gold medal.

Although she came away with silver her performance aided the ladies' team to secure the team gold, helping Jersey to the top of the medal table.

Returning to Charleston Southern University in America, where she gained a scholarship to study, her form remained and she was twice named Big South Golfer of the Week.

She was also awarded with the Big South All Conference Award for her golf results which included winning the Draper Valley Intercollegiate tournament.

Competition for the award - which Jersey have won or shared ever since 2002 - comes from 13-year-old table tennis star Alice Loveridge, considered a potential player for Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics, who became the youngest ever Sarnian gold medallist at the Island Games; Tim Ravenscroft, a Guernsey cricketer who toured the West Indies with the England West Region Under 15s as well as helping Hampshire become the new England Under 17 County Champions.

They beat Durham in the final at Hove, with Ravenscroft hitting a century.

The third and final nomination is Guernsey's tennis starlet Heather Watson recognised as a major prospect by many in the game.

She was crowned the British U16 champion a year after gaining victory in the U14 final and also made it to the semi-final of the U18 event.

The Island dominates the Team Award v with Jersey Bowls, Jersey Cricket, Jersey RFC Academy Under-18s and Guernsey 4 X 400m relay team all nominated.

The Island's bowlers had a superb tournament - probably their best ever - at the Atlantic Rim, while Jersey Cricket has revelled in the European tournaments as their seniors and juniors took to the international stage with relish, home and away.

Jersey cricketers had an astonishing year, making it to the final of the Division II European Championships at U15, U19 and U23 level - winning two out of three.

The senior team also experienced considerable success twice beating Italy in a crucial ECC tournament (thus fulfilling playing requirements for associate membership of the ICC; winning a triangular tournament featuring Guernsey and France; as well as ending Guernsey's long run of successes in the inter-insular.

Jersey RFC Academy's feat of winning the club's first ever Hampshire trophy, the U18 Cup, (something which qualified them for the National Colt's Cup) deservedly earns them selection.

Jersey, coached by Bob Shambrook, Mick Mayo, Mick Curzons, Andy Mayo and Les Small, beat county giants Havant and Gosport and Fareham along the away, and retained their Siam Cup age group trophy 74-0 and have since reached the last 16 of the National Colts Plate competition.

Guernsey sole representatives are their outstanding 4x400m relay team from the Rhodes Islands Games.

The coaching award short-list consists of Jersey' John Grady, of the British Gymnastics Disabilities Squad; Chris Minty, the director of Jersey Cricket; Mavis Richards, of Guernsey's Junior Indoor Bowling Team; and Jason Shambrook, the Guernsey Cricket coach.

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