World Superbike star Eugene Laverty hailed Isle of Man TT legend Joey Dunlop as a 'true hero' after being crowned the Adelaide Irish Motorcyclist of the Year.

Laverty was unable to travel to Northern Ireland for the event in Belfast, but received the prestigious Joey Dunlop trophy at his Monaco home after the organisers made the trip to present the accolade.

The annual award is voted for by the public and a panel of expert judges including past and present riders such as Jeremy McWilliams, Phillip McCallen and Ryan Farquhar.

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Crescent Suzuki rider Laverty, who won nine races on his way to the runner-up spot in the World Superbike championship in 2013, fended off opposition from road racer Michael Dunlop to scoop the main gong.

The delighted 27-year-old said: "I am really shocked to receive the Joey Dunlop trophy this year as I faced some stiff competition, especially from Michael Dunlop. What he did on the roads this year was superb - I have so much respect for him.

"This trophy means so much to me. Joey Dunlop was the reason I took up racing - the man I wanted to go and see when I was growing up, he's a true hero of mine.

"To have this trophy flown to me at my home in Monaco was something really special and something I will never forget," he added.

"I am so sorry I couldn't be in Belfast but I was testing with my new team and I want to be ready to try and win the World Superbike Championship this season.

"Joey Dunlop was Northern Ireland's last World Champion and I want to be the next."

Laverty previously won the top accolade in 2010 after finishing as the runner-up in the World Supersport Championship.

He also claimed the Short Circuit Rider of the Year award, which was received on his behalf by his brother and PBM MotoGP rider Michael.

Dunlop, meanwhile - who won four TT races in 2013 - was named as the International and National Road Racer of the Year.