Paul O'Connell named Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Player of the Year
Ireland skipper Paul O'Connell has been named the named The Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Player of the Year at the annual Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Awards dinner at the Guinness Storehouse.
The inspirational lock, who won his 100th cap on the way to leading Ireland to a second successive Six Nations triumph and helped bring Munster back into a Pro12 decider, was honoured with the award.
“It’s a great honour. I’m delighted to receive it, we had a very successful season with Ireland winning the championship, so I suppose I’m capitalising on a lot of other people’s hard work," he said.
"There are a lot of very clever rugby people writing about the game in Ireland and I’ve been at the awards night as Irish captain and as a winner before and it’s a great night. We’re delighted with their support and I’m delighted with the award”
The Toulon second row was outstanding for his country last season, and his efforts along with the rest of the squad resulted in Ireland being awarded the Dave Guiney Team of the Year after claiming back-to-back RBS Six Nations titles last March.
Sophie Spence picked up the Women’s Player of the Year after an impressive campaign in the second row for her country. The Old Belvedere and Leinster player played an integral role in the Women’s National side winning the Women’s Six Nations title last season.
On receiving the award, Spence said: “It’s something you can only dream of. I didn’t think I had my best performances this year, but I really enjoyed it and it’s come as a big surprise when I see the other players who have won it like Claire Molloy, Lynne Cantwell and Niamh Briggs so it’s fantastic.
"It’s nice to see our forwards getting the recognition, too. Our pack has had a lot of continuity in the past season which helped us deliver real consistency so this award is as much about the forwards as anything else.”
Lansdowne FC was voted Club of the Year after an impressive season at all levels culminating in the AIL title as they beat last season’s winners Clontarf by a single point in a pulsating final at the Aviva Stadium.
The Tom Rooney Award was awarded to Fred Casey – Fred has been involved in Cork Con since 1964 and has been credited with the development of sixteen Ireland Internationals and four British & Irish Lions. Fred has also coached a huge number of current and former Munster players.
There were two players inducted into the Hall of Fame on the night.
Tom Grace – Grace won 25 Ireland caps between 1972 and 1978, including eight as captain. He led Ireland on the tour to New Zealand and Fiji in 1976 as well as gaining Lions selection on the most celebrated tour of all to South Africa in 1974 where he scored 52 points and made 11 appearances.
Dave Hewitt – Hewitt was capped 18 times for Ireland (during which time he scored 1 try, 2 conversions and 3 penalties), and played in 6 Test matches while on tour with the British Lions to Australia and New Zealand in 1959, and South Africa in 1962. His personal points tally for the New Zealand matches came to 112.