Sunday 28 May 2017

Praise for Paulie as Stander and Murphy win Munster awards

The winners at the Munster Rugby Awards at the Maryborough Hotel & Spa, Cork, were (back row, left to right) Ornagh Ferris (Listowel Rugby Club, Club Mini Section of the Year Award); Billy Bourke (Clonmel Rugby Club, Junior Club of the Year Award); Gerry Buggy (Ennis Rugby Club, Club Youth Section of the Year Award); Jack O’Donoghue (John McCarthy Award for Greencore Munster Rugby Academy Player of the Year); George Bradfield (Bandon Grammar School, School of the Year Award); Andy Brace (Referee
of the Year); (front row, left to right) Duncan Casey (Munster Young Player of the Year Award); Ciara Griffin (Women’s Player of the Year); Noel Murphy (Hall of Fame Award); CJ Stander (Munster Player of the Year); and Brendan Collopy (Young Munster RFC, Senior Club of the Year). Photo: INPHO/ Morgan Treacy
The winners at the Munster Rugby Awards at the Maryborough Hotel & Spa, Cork, were (back row, left to right) Ornagh Ferris (Listowel Rugby Club, Club Mini Section of the Year Award); Billy Bourke (Clonmel Rugby Club, Junior Club of the Year Award); Gerry Buggy (Ennis Rugby Club, Club Youth Section of the Year Award); Jack O’Donoghue (John McCarthy Award for Greencore Munster Rugby Academy Player of the Year); George Bradfield (Bandon Grammar School, School of the Year Award); Andy Brace (Referee of the Year); (front row, left to right) Duncan Casey (Munster Young Player of the Year Award); Ciara Griffin (Women’s Player of the Year); Noel Murphy (Hall of Fame Award); CJ Stander (Munster Player of the Year); and Brendan Collopy (Young Munster RFC, Senior Club of the Year). Photo: INPHO/ Morgan Treacy

John Fallon

Former Lions player and coach Noel Murphy has hailed Paul O'Connell as the greatest Irish player he has ever seen.

Murphy was speaking at the annual Munster Rugby Awards in association with the Irish Independent in Cork, where he was presented with the province's Hall of Fame award.

He was one of 11 award winners at the annual event in the Maryborough Hotel in Cork, which was hosted by the President of the Munster Branch of the IRFU Mick Goggin and attended by over 270 people.

South African flanker CJ Stander is the first overseas player to win Munster Player of the Year.

Former Irish captain Murphy was a key figure on the International Rugby Board when the game went professional after the 1995 World Cup. He said that helping the move to professionalism was worthwhile when players like O'Connell came through.

"I think there have been some wonderful players, but probably the best player I have ever seen playing for Ireland - and I have been following rugby for over 60 years - is Paul O'Connell.

Hooker Duncan Casey won the Young Player of the Year, Jack O'Donoghue took home the Academy honour, and Ciara Griffin won the Women's award. Referee of the Year was Andy Brace, while Young Munster (senior), Clonmel (junior), Ennis (club youth), and Listowel (club mini) won the club awards, with Bandon Grammar the School of the Year.

The Munster professional team - led by coach Anthony Foley, manager Niall O'Donovan and captain Peter O'Mahony - were also at the awards.

Also in attendance was Irish Independent editor Fionnán Sheahan, head of sports content David Courtney, Independent News & Media marketing director Geoff Lyons, and marketing and partnerships manager Niamh Boyle.

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