The 22-year-old champion golfer Rory McIlroy has been named BBC Northern Ireland's Sports Personality of the Year for 2011. The County Down man pipped Darren Clarke and, rugby player, Rory Best for the award.

McIlroy said “I am thrilled to be named as the BBC Northern Ireland Sports Personality of the Year ... Looking back on 2011, it's been an amazing 12 months of my life.

"It's been a year I will always remember, not least because I won my first major.

"That victory at the US Open in Washington would not have been possible without the fantastic support from my family.

"I would also like to thank all the great support from everyone in Northern Ireland.


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"Looking forward to getting to Belfast for Christmas - and then in 2012, hopefully bringing more silverware back home"

Other contenders for the award included paralympian Sally Brown, Donegal GAA All-Star Karl Lacey, Dungiven boxer Paul McCloskey and British Supersport champion Alastair Seeley.

BBC NI Shane Glynn said “Once again, we had a very strong shortlist for the judges to vote on - all would have been worthy winners.

"In the end it was a very close call between Rory and Darren, who both had extraordinary years.

"I'd like to congratulate Rory on his richly deserved award.

"He's thrilled us all with some of his golf this year, which at times, especially during the Masters and the US Open, was simply breathtaking.

"I'd also like to thank the judges for their time and commitment."

Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke are both on the shortlist for BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2011. he award will be presented at the live show on 22nd December.