Rugby

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Murray crowned player of year as tributes paid to Munster coach

Ralph Riegel

Published 09/05/2014|02:30

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Peter O'Mahony, Munster Player of the Year Conor Murray and ‘Irish Independent’ Editor Claire Grady. Picture: Daragh McSweeney/Provision
Cian Bohane, Gerhard van den Heever and Simon Zebo. Picture: Daragh McSweeney/Provision
Back row, Hall of Fame winner Brian O'Brien, Club youth section of the year winner Eugene McCarthy of Bantry RFC, Junior club of the year winner John Connery of Clonmel, Shane Buckley Academy Player of the Year winner, Senior Club of the year winner Keith Hayes of Nenagh Ormond RFC, Referee of the year Kieran Barry, School of the year winner Principal Nicholas Cuddihy of Crescent College Comprehensive. 
Front Row, Women's player of the year Siobhan Fleming, JJ Hanrahan wins the young player of the year, Conor Murray player of the year and Club Mini section of the year winner Martina Moriarty of Killorglin RFC 
©INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Back row, Hall of Fame winner Brian O'Brien, Club youth section of the year winner Eugene McCarthy of Bantry RFC, Junior club of the year winner John Connery of Clonmel, Shane Buckley Academy Player of the Year winner, Senior Club of the year winner Keith Hayes of Nenagh Ormond RFC, Referee of the year Kieran Barry, School of the year winner Principal Nicholas Cuddihy of Crescent College Comprehensive. Front Row, Women's player of the year Siobhan Fleming, JJ Hanrahan wins the young player of the year, Conor Murray player of the year and Club Mini section of the year winner Martina Moriarty of Killorglin RFC ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Munster now hope to end a roller-coaster season on a winning note as the province paid tribute to departing coach Rob Penney.

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The tributes to the 50-year-old Japan-bound coach came as Munster named Ireland and Lions scrum-half Conor Murray (25) as their 2014 Player of the Year.

The Limerick player said that he was "deeply honoured" by the award, which was presented at a gala ceremony in Cork.

"In this Munster squad at the moment there is real talent... this year there was a real belief in ourselves. Going forward we have laid good blocks to build on and win trophies," he said.

Munster Rugby and Independent News & Media have a long-term partnership agreement which has already seen the rebranding of the province's Cork home as Irish Independent Park.

Munster now hope to win the RaboDirect Pro12 as the team face Glasgow Warriors in the semi-final.

Penney was hailed for his faith in Munster youth development and a positive philosophy that delivered two successive Heineken Cup semi-finals. Penney, who joined Munster in 2012, admitted that leaving the province was a difficult decision to take given the potential of the squad.

"I have to take this opportunity presented to me and prioritise my family and personal circumstances," the coach said.

The past 18 months has witnessed a transformation of Munster's squad with the retirement and departure of a number of legendary players including Ronan O'Gara, Marcus Horan and Doug Howlett.

Tributes were also paid to Niall Ronan (31), who confirmed he has now decided to retire following a serious injury which required surgery and lengthy rehab. However, the retirements have been offset by the emergence of a galaxy of young Munster stars including Tommy O'Donnell, Conor Murray and Simon Zebo.

Munster captain Peter O'Mahony said the future is very bright for the province.

"It was disappointing to miss the Heineken Cup semi-final (through injury) but the surgery went well and I'll be doing rehab over the summer," he said.

Irish Independent

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