Wednesday 7 December 2016

Award-winning Towell in frame for another step forward

Published 09/01/2016 | 02:30

Dundalk’s Gary Rogers receives the 2015 ‘goalkeeper of the year’ award from Ireland manager Martin O’Neill at last night’s SSE Airtricity Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland Awards. Picture credit: Matt Browne / Sportsfile
Dundalk’s Gary Rogers receives the 2015 ‘goalkeeper of the year’ award from Ireland manager Martin O’Neill at last night’s SSE Airtricity Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland Awards. Picture credit: Matt Browne / Sportsfile

Richie Towell started a major weekend in his career off on a successful note by being named as the SSE Airtricity/SWAI Personality of the Year for 2015.

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Towell, who could debut Brighton at Hull in the FA Cup today, scooped the award ahead of his manager Stephen Kenny following a remarkable campaign where he scored 29 goals in all competitions for the double winners to earn his transfer to the Championship.

The 24-year-old was unable to attend the ceremony in Dublin because of his possible debut, but he sent a video message expressing his gratitude to everyone at his former club. "I'm very honoured to have won the award," said Towell, who spoke in Brighton yesterday about his task ahead.

"There are a lot of games coming up thick and fast so I just need to take my chance when it comes," he stressed.

"The training has been a step up, you can see the quality here. To be fair at Dundalk we trained at a really high intensity as well, we had really good players, but there is definitely a step up in quality. Time will tell when I get my game time. Nothing compares to playing competitive football, and that's what I'm here to do."

Dundalk netminder Gary Rogers picked up the Goalkeeper of the Year gong, while former Ireland international Arthur Fitzsimons was inducted into the Soccer Writers' Association Hall of Fame and a special presentation was made to the recently retired Damien Duff for his outstanding contribution to Irish football. The late Johnny Fullam was also honoured at the event.

Towell became the first player to pick up the main award since Owen Heary in 2008. Chris Hughton said this week that he was seriously thinking of pitching the Dubliner into the Hull encounter to see where he stands after making the step up from the League of Ireland.

That is one Irish angle that could be of interest from the weekend's FA Cup action. Martin O'Neill will hope that it gives out-of-favour players a chance to put themselves in the shop window. With a midweek round of Premier League fixtures over the horizon, Darron Gibson and Aiden McGeady could come into contention for Everton's encounter with Dagenham & Redbridge.

Marc Wilson is due a game for a Stoke side that are away to Doncaster. The hosts will have ex-League of Ireland midfielder Paul Keegan in their ranks, a former underage team-mate of Glenn Whelan, who this week hailed the underrated influence of his old colleague.

Elsewhere, Conor Sammon has drifted out of Irish contention but could figure at Old Trafford for Sheffield United against Manchester United, while Michael Doyle, Enda Stevens and Brian Murphy will be part of Paul Cook's Portsmouth squad which travels to take on Mick McCarthy's Ipswich at Portman Road.

Irish Independent

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