Sunday 19 April 2015

Rugby legend BOD bounces back for Leinster's big night

Published 05/05/2014 | 02:30

BRIAN O'Driscoll is human after all. The Ireland rugby legend admitted to feeling a bit under the weather as he missed the start of the annual Leinster Rugby Awards Ball.

But just as he has soldiered through many a knock on the pitch, the star centre again shrugged off his personal discomfort to make sure he could be there on the night.

"I didn't think he was going to make it," his wife Amy Huberman told the Irish Independent. "But he's made of tougher stuff than I am. He couldn't miss this – it's always a great night."

Members of the Leinster squad and their partners toasted the year's achievements at the dinner in Dublin's Mansion House on Saturday night.

Awards included Tackle of the Year going to Jimmy Gopperth, Jack McGrath being named Bank of Ireland Player of the year and Dave Kearney taking home the Irish Independent's Try of the Year award.

Special tributes were paid to O'Driscoll and Leo Cullen for their outstanding contribution to Leinster. A montage of the players' best tries, tackles and interceptions were projected onto one of the walls of the Round Room.

Brian O'Driscoll during the Leinster Rugby Awards Ball. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Brian O'Driscoll during the Leinster Rugby Awards Ball. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Brian O'Driscoll and Amy Huberman at the Leinster Rugby Awards at the Mansion House in Dublin. Picture: Declan Masterson Photography
Leo Cullen is presented with a cap as a farewell present on behalf of Leinster Rugby from Leinster President Paul Deering at the Leinster Rugby Awards Ball. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Brian O'Driscoll during the Leinster Rugby Awards Ball. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Brian O'Driscoll during the Leinster Rugby Awards Ball. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Portarlington RFC Club Captain James Hyland accepts the Irish Independent Pro of the Year award, for the absent Barry Lambkin, from Geoff Lyons, Marketing Director, Irish Independent, at the Leinster Rugby Awards Ball. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Sophie Spence, Old Belvedere RFC, accepts the Donnelly Women's Player of the Year award from Ciaran Donnelly, MD, Donnelly Fruit & Veg, at the Leinster Rugby Awards Ball. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Leo Cullen and his wife Dairine Kennedy at the Leinster Rugby Awards Ball
Leinster's Cian Healy and Holly Carpenter in attendance at the Leinster Rugby Awards Ball. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Zane Kirchner and wife Tasneem at the Leinster Rugby Awards Ball. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Leinster's Jack McGrath and Sinead Corcoran in attendance at the Leinster Rugby Awards Ball. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Leinster's Jordi Murphy and Laura Finnegan in attendance at the Leinster Rugby Awards Ball. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Mike and Kimberley Ross in attendance at the Leinster Rugby Awards Ball. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Leinster's Brendan Macken and Charlotte Cunningham in attendance at the Leinster Rugby Awards Ball. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Eoin and Aoife Reddan at the Leinster Rugby Awards Ball

Former team-mate Shane Horgan presented O'Driscoll with the Tipperary Crystal Cup and ran through some of the highs and lows of his career – although focusing mainly on O'Driscoll's questionable hairstyles and fashion choices down the years.

Speaking of his looming retirement at the end of the season, O'Driscoll said: "I'll miss the camaraderie in the dressing room the most, and seeing the team.

"But these are exciting times ahead. I'm looking forward to playing second fiddle to my very talented wife and seeing what the future holds."

O'Driscoll also thanked skipper Leo Cullen, saying he was "the best captain I've ever known. Leo epitomises the best of Leinster".

Cullen cited playing in the 2009 Heineken Cup as one of the most memorable moments of his career and said he was relishing his forwards' coach role next season.

Eoin Reddan, Devin Toner, Cian Healy and Ian Madigan were all in attendance but insisted it would be an early night.

"It won't be too wild," Madigan said. "There's a big match in Edinburgh next weekend so we can't stay up too late – but it should be a lot of fun."

For some, the party continued into the early hours, with band The Hitmen Trio keeping everyone on their feet.

"Dancing isn't something that comes naturally to me," Mike Ross said. "But you have to give it your best shot on a night like this."

Irish Independent

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